ChapterPDF Available

Creativity in Engineering

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

Creativity is a fundamental element of Engineering . Creativity is concerned with the generation of effective, novel solutions to problems, while Engineering , and Engineering Design has a similar goal, focused on technological solutions. It was the Sputnik Shock of October 1957 that prompted, for the first time, research into the people who generate creative solutions, the cognitive Process es they employ, the environment in which they undertake these activities, and the characteristics of the Product s they create. This chapter summarises the psychological framework that guides efforts to understand how Creativity is fostered so that Engineering organisations can maximise their capacity for Innovation . Of special importance is embedding Creativity in Engineering Education .
Content may be subject to copyright.
Cropley, D. H. (2015) Creativity in engineering. In G. E. Corazza and S. Agnoli (Eds.), Multidisciplinary
Contributions to the Science of Creative Thinking, Chapter 10 (pp. 155-173), London, UK:
Springer.
1
Creativity in Engineering
David H Cropley
School of Engineering, University of South Australia
Email: david.cropley@unisa.edu.au; Tel: +618 8302 3301
Abstract
Creativity is a fundamental element of engineering. Creativity is concerned with the
generation of effective, novel solutions to problems, while engineering, and engineering
design has a similar goal, focused on technological solutions. It was the Sputnik Shock of
October 1957 that prompted, for the first time, research into the people who generate creative
solutions, the cognitive processes they employ, the environment in which they undertake
these activities, and the characteristics of the products they create. This chapter summarises
the psychological framework that guides efforts to understand how creativity is fostered so
that engineering organisations can maximise their capacity for innovation. Of special
importance is embedding creativity in engineering education.
Keywords
Creativity, Engineering, Innovation, Design, Technology, Education
Introduction
The Sputnik Shock that occurred on October 4, 1957 (Dickson, 2001) was pivotal to the
process of linking creativity (the generation of effective novelty), innovation (the
exploitation of effective novelty) and engineering (the design and development of
technological solutions to problems) in a systematic and scientific way. After the launch of
Sputnik I, US lawmakers began to look more deeply for the underlying causes of the Soviet
Cropley, D. H. (2015) Creativity in engineering. In G. E. Corazza and S. Agnoli (Eds.), Multidisciplinary
Contributions to the Science of Creative Thinking, Chapter 10 (pp. 155-173), London, UK:
Springer.
2
Union’s strategic achievement. The US Government understood that highly skilled people
were essential to technological progress, and the Congress addressed this through the
National Defense Education Act (NDEA
1
) of 1958. The NDEA was designed to rectify a
shortage of graduates in mathematics and engineering. However, the key step in linking
creativity, innovation, engineering and technology was the hypothesis that the Soviet threat in
space was not only a quantitative problem (e.g. a shortage of engineers in the US) but also a
qualitative one. There was a belief that Soviet engineering achievements, and their Sputnik I
success, resulted from superior creativity (A. J. Cropley & Cropley, 2009). This led to
attention moving, for the first time, from economic issues that underpin the growth and
development of technology, to the particular qualities of a product that make it creative, the
qualities of the people and organizations that make the technology, and the processes by
which they achieve the development of new and effective technological solutions to
problems. In other words, Sputnik I prompted a focus on psychologically oriented creativity
research.
The shift to a qualitative explanation for engineering creativity was aided by the fact
that a scientific foundation linking creativity, engineering and technology already existed. In
1950, the psychologist J. P. Guilford delivered a pivotal presidential address to the American
Psychological Association’s annual convention. Guildford (1950) argued that human
intellectual ability had been defined too narrowly in terms of factors such as speed, accuracy
and correctness what he termed convergent thinking and needed to be understood in a
broader sense, to include factors such as generating alternatives and seeing multiple
possibilities. Guilford saw intellectual ability as involving both convergent and divergent
thinking.
1
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Defense_Education_Act
Cropley, D. H. (2015) Creativity in engineering. In G. E. Corazza and S. Agnoli (Eds.), Multidisciplinary
Contributions to the Science of Creative Thinking, Chapter 10 (pp. 155-173), London, UK:
Springer.
3
Engineers, in fact, are no strangers to the need for both forms of thinking: analysis
and synthesis. Horenstein (2002), for example, reminds us that design requires both: “…if
more than one solution exists, and if deciding upon a suitable path demands … making
choices, performing tests, iterating, and evaluating, then the activity is most certainly design.
Design can include analysis, but it also must involve at least one of these latter elements.” (p.
23).
In fact, the relationship between creativity and engineering runs much deeper.
Creativity is concerned with the generation of effective and novel solutions to problems.
Engineering is concerned more specifically with generating technological solutions to
problems. Despite this, engineering is still frequently seen as predominantly analytical in
nature “a common misconception … is that engineering is “just” applied math and science”
(Brockman, 2009) (p. x). It follows that successful engineering design must focus on both
analysis (convergent thinking) and synthesis (divergent thinking) in the creation of
technological solutions. Concentrating on one at the expense of the other risks the integrity of
the solutions (products) themselves, and the skill-base of the engineers involved in the
creation of these solutions. Engineering, in short, is fundamentally a process of creative
problem solving.
The Importance of Creativity to Engineering
Few would disagree that creativity is an essential element of 21st century life. In relation to
engineering, this was explicitly identified as long ago as 1959 by Sprecher (1959), while
Mokyr (1990) discusses the more general importance of creativity and innovation to national
prosperity. There is widespread agreement that creativity is a vital component in the success
and prosperity of organizations. Despite this, it is also clear that many leaders, managers,
professional practitioners and educators are either apathetic to creativity or, uncertain of how
Cropley, D. H. (2015) Creativity in engineering. In G. E. Corazza and S. Agnoli (Eds.), Multidisciplinary
Contributions to the Science of Creative Thinking, Chapter 10 (pp. 155-173), London, UK:
Springer.
4
to foster and exploit it in practice. This situation is not unique to engineering, and is typically
the result of a lack of practical understanding of what creativity is, of how it can add value to
the solution of real problems, and of what needs to be done to foster it. This in turn results
from several misconceptions. For example, creativity has been, in the past, thought of (Olken,
1964) as a trait that people are born with “you either have it, or you don’t” (p. 149). At the
same time, it is frequently conceived of too narrowly, as exclusively concerned with
aesthetics “creativity is about art, isn’t it?” Creativity is also regarded frequently as simply
a matter of thinking and especially free and unconstrained thinking. Benson (2004), for
example, reports anecdotal evidence suggesting that primary school teachers see creativity as
simply a matter of letting children “do their own thing” (p.138) and that creativity is
“developed mainly through art and music” (p.138). Other researchers have noted similar
conceptual hurdles. Kawenski (1991), for example, writing about students in an apparel
design course, found that “In the first place, their romantic notions led them to believe that
creative thinking consisted of just letting their minds waft about dreamily, waiting for the
muse to strike them.” (p. 263). The result of this is that creativity is often associated with lack
of rigor, impulsive behaviour, free expression of ideas without regard to quality, and other
“soft” factors. In engineering, there is then also the hurdle that these soft factors may be
dismissed as “not real engineering”.
In recent years, it seems as though there is little cross-fertilization and sharing of ideas
taking place between psychology and engineering. The strong connection between creativity
and engineering, which existed immediately after the Sputnik Shock, seems to have
dissipated. Buhl (1960) exemplifies this, but also highlights the fact that the early cross-
fertilization seemed to fade away, so that from the 1970s onwards the connections between
creativity and engineering were largely broken.
Cropley, D. H. (2015) Creativity in engineering. In G. E. Corazza and S. Agnoli (Eds.), Multidisciplinary
Contributions to the Science of Creative Thinking, Chapter 10 (pp. 155-173), London, UK:
Springer.
5
Engineering, in relation to creativity, may have been a victim of its own success. By
the late 1960s, the success of the Apollo Space Program may have engendered a feeling
among engineers in the United States, as well as other Western countries, that the concerns
identified by the Sputnik Shock had been solved. US and Western engineers had
comprehensively demonstrated their technical abilities, and the West could stop worrying
about creativity in engineering!
The challenges of the early 21st century health, security, climate, population, food
remain, and finding effective and novel technological solutions is more important than ever.
We know creativity is vital to engineering success, but we struggle to understand why or
how, and therefore, the role of creativity is often ignored, especially in engineering education.
At the same time that engineers forgot about creativity, another factor was conspiring
to make it harder to re-establish the connection. As the study of creativity grew within the
field of psychology, a gradual shift in our understanding of the term creativity took place.
Creativity became tied strongly to the arts (D. H. Cropley & Cropley, 2013) in the public eye
(p.12-13), and this contributed to the difficulty of reconnecting creativity to engineering. Any
manager or teacher working in engineering, and interested in creativity, must now actively
“unhook” creativity from the arts (McWilliam, Dawson, & Tan, 2011) before they can absorb
the wealth of material that is available on the subject.
It seems that before any reconnecting and rebalancing of creativity and engineering
can take place, it is first necessary to dispel some of the myths and misconceptions of
creativity. What is creativity, and how should we understand it?
What is Creativity?
The most significant factor that is holding back the development of creativity in engineering
is the fact that, beyond the field of psychology, creativity is poorly understood. Baillie (2002)
Cropley, D. H. (2015) Creativity in engineering. In G. E. Corazza and S. Agnoli (Eds.), Multidisciplinary
Contributions to the Science of Creative Thinking, Chapter 10 (pp. 155-173), London, UK:
Springer.
6
illustrates this problem perfectly. She stated, “It is however not clear how creativity can be
nurtured or fostered in students or how it can be assessed. What is creativity? What blocks it
and what facilitates it?” (p. 185). These questions have been the focus of research for more
than 50 years, with results widely published and readily available!
Florida (2002) noted that creativity involves the production of “meaningful new
forms”. He highlighted the fact that such forms involve:
physical objects that can be made, sold and used;
theorems or strategies that can be applied in many situations;
systems for understanding the world that are adopted by many people;
music that can be performed again and again.
Embedded in this approach to creativity is the emphasis on products and the idea that
the product must be public (other people come to know about it and find it useful in some
way) and enduring (its application or use persists for some time in some cases for a very
long time). This means that the creativity of ephemeral remarks or fleeting ideas is of lesser
interest. The emphasis on meaningful new forms is especially relevant for practical settings
such as engineering.
The Definition of Creativity
Two basic components are needed by engineers entering the field of creativity to answer the
question what is creativity? These not only answer the fundamental question, and remove the
basic blocks to reconnecting creativity with engineering, but also ensure that progress is made
with a minimum of duplication. The first component is a clear, and widely accepted,
definition representing the consensus that has emerged over decades of creativity research.
Such a definition should be broad enough to satisfy the needs of any domain. Plucker,
Beghetto and Dow (2004) have captured all the essential ingredients in the following:
Cropley, D. H. (2015) Creativity in engineering. In G. E. Corazza and S. Agnoli (Eds.), Multidisciplinary
Contributions to the Science of Creative Thinking, Chapter 10 (pp. 155-173), London, UK:
Springer.
7
Creativity is “the interaction among aptitude, process and environment by which an
individual or group produces a perceptible product that is both novel and useful as defined
within a social context” (p.90).
The Five Ps of Creativity
The second component needed by engineers for the reconnection with creativity is to
recognise that creativity is characterised in terms of 4Ps: Person, Product, Process and Press
(environment). This conceptual framework was first described by Rhodes (1961) and
provides an excellent framework for understanding the who, what, when, where and how of
creativity in engineering.
Phase The Stages of Creativity
Even divided into the 4Ps, this framework for understanding creativity may be still too
diffuse to provide a concrete framework for recognising and fostering creativity in
engineering. Creativity in engineering is concerned with solving problems; however, the
solutions engineers devise do not emerge in a single step. Engineers understand that there is a
sequence of stages that is followed starting with the recognition that there is a problem to be
solved, and followed by the determination of possible ways of solving that problem,
narrowing these down to one, or a few, probable solutions, before selecting the best option
for development and implementation. Creativity in engineering is embedded across this
sequence of stages. To understand creativity in engineering, it is first necessary to understand
how the 4Ps intersect with the stages that we know characterise engineering problem solving.
The answer to this issue is therefore a fifth P Phases. These are the steps involved
in the generation of novel and effective engineering products. Guilford (1959) described
creativity as problem solving, and defined it as having four stages:
recognition that a problem exists;
Cropley, D. H. (2015) Creativity in engineering. In G. E. Corazza and S. Agnoli (Eds.), Multidisciplinary
Contributions to the Science of Creative Thinking, Chapter 10 (pp. 155-173), London, UK:
Springer.
8
production of a variety of relevant ideas;
evaluation of the various possibilities produced;
drawing of appropriate conclusions that lead to the solution of the problem.
Table 1 sets out these four steps in sequence. Importantly, Guildford’s stages are also
characterised very clearly in terms of contrasting phases of convergent and divergent
thinking.
Table 1: Stages of creative problem solving (Guilford, 1959)
Stage
1
2
3
4
Description
Recognition
that a problem
exists
Production of a
variety of
relevant ideas
Evaluation of
the various
possibilities
produced
Drawing of
appropriate
conclusions that
lead to the
solution of the
problem
Summary
Problem
Recognition
Idea Generation
Idea Evaluation
Solution
Validation
Characteristic
Convergent
Divergent
Convergent
Convergent
Guilford’s model corresponds closely to Wallas’s (1926) well-known four-phase
model: In the phase of Preparation a person becomes thoroughly familiar with a content area,
in the Incubation phase the person “churns through” or “stews over” the information obtained
in the previous phase, in the phase of Illumination a solution emerges, not infrequently
seeming to the person involved to come like a bolt from the blue, and finally comes the phase
of Verification, in which the person tests the solution thrown up in the phases of Incubation
and Illumination. More recently, the Wallas model has been refined by adding three
additional phases (Activation, Communication, Validation) (A. J. Cropley & Cropley, 2008;
Cropley, D. H. (2015) Creativity in engineering. In G. E. Corazza and S. Agnoli (Eds.), Multidisciplinary
Contributions to the Science of Creative Thinking, Chapter 10 (pp. 155-173), London, UK:
Springer.
9
D. H. Cropley, 2006) conceptualizing creativity as involving seven consecutive Phases
(Figure 1).
Figure 1: The Extended Phase Model of the Creative Process
The Phases of creativity captured in the Extended Phase Model shown in Figure 1, and the
fundamental oscillation between stages of convergent and divergent thinking, tie strongly to
the steps of Engineering Design as the mechanism by which products and systems are
realised. Dieter and Schmidt (2012) remind us that “… it is true that the professional practice
of engineering is largely concerned with design; it is often said that design is the essence of
engineering” (p.1). Citing Blumrich (1970), they characterize the process of design as “to pull
together something new or to arrange existing things in a new way to satisfy a recognized
need of society” (p.1). Dieter and Schmidt (2012) describe the essence of design as synthesis.
Preparation
Activation
Generation
Illumination
Verification
Communication
Validation
Cropley, D. H. (2015) Creativity in engineering. In G. E. Corazza and S. Agnoli (Eds.), Multidisciplinary
Contributions to the Science of Creative Thinking, Chapter 10 (pp. 155-173), London, UK:
Springer.
10
Horenstein (2002) contrasted design with other essential activities in engineering by
focusing on the process of solving problems. The core of engineering practice is therefore
design, but that design activity involves two stages: a stage of creative synthesis, followed by
a stage of logical analysis. The first stage is synonymous with divergent thinking (Guilford,
1950), while the second is synonymous with convergent thinking. This may be illustrated as
shown in Figure 2 and we usually think of this process proceeding, as illustrated from left to
right.
Figure 2: Convergence and Divergence in Problem Solving
Buhl (1960) notes many important, and recurrent themes both in creative, and
engineering, problem solving. These include the non-linear progression that the process
frequently follows. However, the most prescient of Buhl’s (1960) points is that “It is
necessary to understand all the factors which tend to prohibit or retard the work at each
phase, and to understand what things tend to increase the possibility of an unusual answer”
(p. 15).
Here is where creativity and engineering come together. As engineering design moves
through a series of stages, these involve either convergent or divergent thinking. We also
know that four factors Person, Product, Process and Press either help or hinder creative
Problem/Need
Solution = X3
X1
Xn
Divergent Thinking
(Synthesis)
Convergent Thinking
(Analysis)
Cropley, D. H. (2015) Creativity in engineering. In G. E. Corazza and S. Agnoli (Eds.), Multidisciplinary
Contributions to the Science of Creative Thinking, Chapter 10 (pp. 155-173), London, UK:
Springer.
11
problem solving (and therefore engineering problem solving) in each of the phases.
Understanding engineering creativity therefore involves understanding this interplay between
Phases and the 4Ps. This is discussed in the following sections.
Person Who are the Creators?
The Person addresses the factors relating to the psychology of the individual actor involved
in the creation of the Product. Research has shown that personal properties (e.g. optimism,
openness, self-confidence), motivation (both intrinsic and extrinsic) and feelings (e.g.
excitement, hope, fear) are distinct dimensions of the Person that each have a bearing on
creativity (D. H. Cropley & Cropley, 2013). Furthermore, these dimensions of the Person
interact with each other in a variety of ways such that different combinations have unique
consequences for creativity. Table 2 summarises these properties mapped to each stage of the
Extended Phase Model (Figure 1).
Table 2: Examples of creativity-enabling Personality Traits
Phase
Motivation
Personal Properties
Feelings
Preparation
hope of gain
willingness to work hard
optimism
self-discipline
openness
interest
curiosity
Activation
preference for complexity
problem-solving drive
(intrinsic)
dissatisfaction with the status
quo
critical attitude
willingness to judge and
select
self-confidence
dissatisfaction
excitement
hopefulness
Generation
freedom from constraints
tolerance for ambiguity
willingness to take risks
relaxedness
acceptance of fantasy
nonconformity
adventurousness
determination
fascination
Illumination
trust in intuitions
sensitivity
excitement
Cropley, D. H. (2015) Creativity in engineering. In G. E. Corazza and S. Agnoli (Eds.), Multidisciplinary
Contributions to the Science of Creative Thinking, Chapter 10 (pp. 155-173), London, UK:
Springer.
12
willingness to explore ideas
resistance to premature
closure
openness
flexibility
Verification
desire for closure
desire to achieve quality
hardnosed sense of reality
self-criticism
satisfaction
pride in oneself
Communication
desire for recognition
(intrinsic)
desire for acclaim or reward
(extrinsic)
self-confidence
autonomy
courage of one’s
convictions
anticipation
hope
fear
Validation
desire for acclaim
mastery drive
toughness
flexibility
elation
Engineering creativity is therefore fostered by supporting the creativity-enabling personality
traits that are active in the different phases of the problem solving process.
Product What do they Create?
The Product addresses the output of the creative activity. It is no surprise that psychologists
are interested in the creative person, however, it is also widely accepted that an essential core
of creativity, whether in art and poetry, or engineering and science, is the tangible artefact.
This definition of Product can be extended to any product, process, system or service that is
both novel and useful (Table 3) (D. H. Cropley & Cropley, 2005).
Table 3: Different Types of Creative Product
Product Type
Product Characteristics
Artefact
A manufactured object
Process
A method for doing or producing something
System
A combination of interacting elements forming a complex,
unitary whole
Service
An organized system of labour and material aids used to satisfy
defined needs
Cropley, D. H. (2015) Creativity in engineering. In G. E. Corazza and S. Agnoli (Eds.), Multidisciplinary
Contributions to the Science of Creative Thinking, Chapter 10 (pp. 155-173), London, UK:
Springer.
13
Mackinnon (1978) concluded that “analysis of creative products” is “the bedrock of
all studies of creativity” (p.187), and indeed, Morgan (1953) came to a similar conclusion.
While more recent definitions of the creative product debate the existence of higher order
characteristics (D. H. Cropley & Cropley, 2005) the foundation of definitions as far back as
Stein (1953) is a combination of novelty and usefulness. For an object, for example, to be
regarded as creative, it must be original and surprising, and it must solve a real problem or
satisfy a real need.
Four criteria define the creativity of a product (D. H. Cropley & Kaufman, 2012; D.
H. Cropley, Kaufman, & Cropley, 2011): relevance and effectiveness; novelty; elegance and
genesis. Products can be classified using these four dimensions arranged in a hierarchy
ranging from “routine” products (characterised by effectiveness alone) to “innovative”
products (characterised by effectiveness, novelty, elegance and genesis), with “original” and
“elegant” products between these poles (Table 4). In the table, a plus sign means that a
criterion is associated with this kind of product, while a minus sign indicates that it is not.
The classifications in Table 4 also demonstrate the idea of pseudo- and quasi-creativity,
where the only necessary property of products seems to be novelty. The table shows that
products higher in the hierarchy incorporate all of the properties of products at lower levels,
but add something to them. According to this classification, routine products are not creative,
because the second necessary criterion (novelty) is absent. However, this does not mean that
these products are not useful, or that they are not common. In engineering, many products
perform important and valuable functions, yet are devoid of creativity, in the sense that they
do not possess novelty.
Cropley, D. H. (2015) Creativity in engineering. In G. E. Corazza and S. Agnoli (Eds.), Multidisciplinary
Contributions to the Science of Creative Thinking, Chapter 10 (pp. 155-173), London, UK:
Springer.
14
Table 4: The Hierarchical Organization of Products
Criterion
Kind of Product
Routine
Original
Elegant
Innovative
Pseudo or quasi-
creativity
Effectiveness
+
+
+
+
-
Novelty
-
+
+
+
+
Elegance
-
-
+
+
?
Genesis
-
-
-
+
?
Process How do they Create it?
Process addresses the styles of thinking that result in creative products. Although more
complex than suggested here, two main thinking styles are commonly associated with
creativity. It was Guilford (1950) who laid the groundwork for understanding the roles that
convergent and divergent thinking play in the production of creativity. While divergent
thinking is often exclusively associated with creativity, it is important to recognise that
convergent thinking is also critical, particularly in the context of problem solving and
engineering. Engineers will immediately recognize this as a feature of the design process.
The core of engineering design therefore involves two fundamental stages: a stage of creative
synthesis (i.e. divergent thinking), followed by a stage of logical analysis (i.e. convergent
thinking).
Table 5 sets out processes typical of divergent thinking, and lists the associated results
of these processes.
Cropley, D. H. (2015) Creativity in engineering. In G. E. Corazza and S. Agnoli (Eds.), Multidisciplinary
Contributions to the Science of Creative Thinking, Chapter 10 (pp. 155-173), London, UK:
Springer.
15
Table 5: Characteristics of Divergent Thinking
Typical Processes
Typical Results
thinking unconventionally
seeing the known in a new light
combining the disparate
producing multiple answers
shifting perspective
transforming the known
seeing new possibilities
alternative or multiple solutions
deviation from the usual
a surprising answer
new lines of attack or ways of
doing things
opening up exciting or risky
possibilities
Divergent cognition (Boden, 1994) involves not only the generation of many possible
ideas or solutions, but also involves seeing connections between disparate pieces of
information (e.g., recognizing patterns, relating diverse concepts, combining unrelated ideas).
One particularly interesting aspect of divergent thinking, especially in an engineering context,
is the process of making associations. In fact, Mednick (1962) argued that what is necessary
for producing novelty is that such associations go beyond the traditional, conventional or
orthodox, and are remote. He described the formation of remote associates and their
connection to novelty production in the following way: In the course of their lives, people
learn a number of possible responses to any given stimulus. Responses most frequently linked
with a particular stimulus in the past are likely to be selected as appropriate if the stimulus is
encountered again (i.e., they are common). On the other hand, responses seldom paired with
the stimulus in the past have a low probability of being chosen (i.e., they are uncommon or
remote). This means that when a particular stimulus recurs in a new situation, people
typically select a common, familiar response. These responses and quick, reliable and
efficient, but they are routine, and lack creativity. For example, Chicken is a common
associate to the stimulus Egg, since these two ideas often occur together. A person with a
Cropley, D. H. (2015) Creativity in engineering. In G. E. Corazza and S. Agnoli (Eds.), Multidisciplinary
Contributions to the Science of Creative Thinking, Chapter 10 (pp. 155-173), London, UK:
Springer.
16
high preference for common associates might associate Green with Grass. This is not a
problem until a situation requiring novelty is encountered.
In engineering problem solving, the impact of both forms of association (common and
remote) can be seen when examining the functions of common objects. A paper clip’s
common association is with the function clip paper. The name of the object reinforces this
common association. When asked to devise alternative uses for a paper clip, engineers must
first overcome functional fixedness that tendency to associate objects with their customary
function. These common associations do have, however, certain advantages to engineers.
They represent the routine solutions that are sufficient for many situations. Standardized
electronic components, for example resistors and capacitors with known values, are
extremely useful in speeding up design and manufacturing processes. The penalty, however,
is that the habit of forming common associates can become so ingrained that it is difficult to
make the transition to remote associates in situations where novelty is required.
In any discussion of Process, it is also important to recognize the fact that creativity does not
come from nowhere. It rests on a foundation of knowledge and requires effort. To be a
creative engineer, you first need to be a capable, technical engineer! The characteristics of
convergent thinking (A. J. Cropley, 2006) that are vital in supporting the overall process of
creative problem solving are summarised in Table 6.
Cropley, D. H. (2015) Creativity in engineering. In G. E. Corazza and S. Agnoli (Eds.), Multidisciplinary
Contributions to the Science of Creative Thinking, Chapter 10 (pp. 155-173), London, UK:
Springer.
17
Table 6: Characteristics of Convergent Thinking
Typical Processes
Typical Results
thinking logically
recognizing the familiar
combining what “belongs together”
homing in on the single best answer
reapplying set techniques
preserving the already known
seeking accuracy and correctness
greater familiarity with what already
exists
better grasp of the facts
a quick, “correct” answer
improvement of existing skills
closure on an issue
Divergent thinking is both necessary and appropriate at certain stages of the engineering
problem solving process. Equally, convergent thinking is necessary and appropriate at other
stages of the process.
Press Where Does the Creativity Happen?
The Press examines the role of organisational and social factors on creativity. More
specifically, Press can be considered to address both: (a) how the “climate” can either
facilitate or inhibit creativity, and; (b) how the “environment” reacts to the production of
creativity. Press touches on not only factors such as management support for creativity (e.g.
rewarding creativity, encouraging risk-taking), and how the physical environment may foster
creativity (e.g. through the provision of plants and adequate lighting in the workplace), but
also on the way that society tolerates radical deviations from norms (are creative people
ridiculed or hailed), and even the rules and standards that govern professional activities such
as engineering.
In the institutional environment for example, an engineering firm it is helpful to
define, more precisely, the aspects of the organisation that influence creativity:
Cropley, D. H. (2015) Creativity in engineering. In G. E. Corazza and S. Agnoli (Eds.), Multidisciplinary
Contributions to the Science of Creative Thinking, Chapter 10 (pp. 155-173), London, UK:
Springer.
18
material institutional structures and facilities such as work stations, laboratories,
information-processing facilities, libraries, classrooms and workshops, etc. These are
found in businesses, factories and the like, but also in schools and universities;
people, not only managers or instructors, but also fellow workers or students;
immaterial institutional factors influencing the interactions between material
structures and people, such as traditions, standards, norms and customs;
psychological institutional factors influencing these interactions, such as roles,
relationships, social hierarchies, interaction rules, communication pathways, and the
like.
Figure 3 shows this organizational Press in more detail.
Figure 3: Factors of the Institutional Environment
The Press can act either to foster or to inhibit creativity. A congenial environment
provides the specific conditions that permit, release, encourage or foster the creativity of
individual people or of groups. These include:
the amount of divergence or risk-taking that is tolerated/encouraged;
Social Environment
Institutional Environment
Material
factors
People
Immaterial
factors
Psychological
factors
Cropley, D. H. (2015) Creativity in engineering. In G. E. Corazza and S. Agnoli (Eds.), Multidisciplinary
Contributions to the Science of Creative Thinking, Chapter 10 (pp. 155-173), London, UK:
Springer.
19
the kind of variability that is tolerated/encouraged (for instance, routine extensions of
the already known vs. radical deviations);
the resources that are made available (not only material, but also human) to support
production of novelty;
the rewards (or punishments) that are offered to people who diverge from the usual.
Paradoxes of Creativity
To understand the interaction of creativity and engineering, one critical factor must be
acknowledged. Each of the 4Ps described in previous sections is not uniformly good or bad
for creativity (A. J. Cropley, 1997; A. J. Cropley & Cropley, 2008). For example,
Horenstein’s (2002) description of engineering, cited earlier, makes it clear that the steps
involved in designing and developing an engineering solution involve different cognitive
skills. Sometimes it is necessary, in other words, to think analytically, and sometimes
synthetically. This suggests a paradox in engineering creativity. Cognitive processes that
appear to be mutually exclusive, are both necessary for creativity. How can creativity in
engineering be developed and fostered if it requires us simultaneously to think both
convergently and divergently? Discussions of creativity, therefore, are confronted by a
number of apparent paradoxes: Aspects of the processes of creativity, the personal properties
associated with it, the conditions that foster its emergence and the products it yields seem to
be mutually incompatible. Similarly, a lack of structure and management pressure in the
environment may encourage creativity some of the time but inhibit it at other times.
Properties of the individual a willingness to take risks, for example may be favourable to
creativity at some points in the process, but unfavourable at other times. The solution to this
paradox lies in the fifth P - Phases. Engineering creativity takes place across distinct phases.
It is possible to build a model of creativity in engineering that identifies the relationships
Cropley, D. H. (2015) Creativity in engineering. In G. E. Corazza and S. Agnoli (Eds.), Multidisciplinary
Contributions to the Science of Creative Thinking, Chapter 10 (pp. 155-173), London, UK:
Springer.
20
between the Person, the Process, the Product and the Press, at each Phase, and specifies
exactly what conditions favour or inhibit creativity, at each point in the problem solving
process.
The Innovation Phase Model
Resolving the paradoxes of engineering creativity the apparent need for simultaneous, but
conflicting, qualities of the person for example is achieved by recognising that each of the
4Ps can move between two poles(D. H. Cropley & Cropley, 2011). The best example is
Process both convergent and divergent thinking are required at different stages of the
engineering problem solving process (see Table 7). In some stages, for example the
Generation phase, divergent thinking is most favourable to the overall process of creativity.
In other phases, for example Illumination, convergent thinking is most appropriate. Mapping
the creativity-enabling state of each of the 4Ps against the seven Phases of the process
resolves the paradoxes of engineering creativity (see Table 7). Phase by phase, Table 7 shows
that the conditions that foster creativity and innovation change. What is good for creativity
and innovation in, for example, the Activation Phase, may actually hinder innovation in the
Verification Phase. The key to successful engineering creativity and innovation therefore is to
adapt to the favourable conditions, at each stage of the process.
The Innovation Phase Model has been tested empirically through the Innovation
Phase Assessment Instrument (IPAI) described in (D. H. Cropley & Cropley, 2012; D. H.
Cropley, Cropley, Chiera, & Kaufman, 2013). In addition to demonstrating that teams and
organisations may be well-aligned, or misaligned to the different poles that favour creativity
across the different phases, the IPAI also highlights the relationship between creativity and
innovation. The former is a necessary pre-requisite to the latter, and while other researchers
frequently explore innovation from an economic or organizational viewpoint, the focus of the
Cropley, D. H. (2015) Creativity in engineering. In G. E. Corazza and S. Agnoli (Eds.), Multidisciplinary
Contributions to the Science of Creative Thinking, Chapter 10 (pp. 155-173), London, UK:
Springer.
21
research described in this chapter remains fundamentally psychological what aspects of
personality, emotions and motivation help or hinder engineers engaged in creativity and
innovation? What cognitive processes do they draw on to aid in their creativity? What
institutional and social factors help or hinder their efforts to design and develop novel
products and systems? How do we assess whether those novel products and systems are,
indeed, creative?
A framework for understanding creativity and engineering the Innovation Phase
Model is a necessary pre-requisite for embedding these concepts in engineering practice.
However, without substantial change to engineering education, these concepts are unlikely to
have beneficial impact.
Cropley, D. H. (2015) Creativity in engineering. In G. E. Corazza and S. Agnoli (Eds.), Multidisciplinary Contributions to the Science of Creative Thinking, Chapter 10 (pp.
155-173), London, UK: Springer.
22
Table 7: The Innovation Phase Model (IPM)
Invention
Exploitation
Phase
Preparation
Knowledge,
problem
recognition
Activation
Problem
definition,
refinement
Generation
Many
candidate
solutions
Illumination
A few
promising
solutions
Verification
A single
optimal
solution
Communication
A working
prototype
Validation
A successful
‘product’
Dimension
Poles
Process
Convergent
vs
Divergent
Convergent
Divergent
Divergent
Convergent
Convergent
Mixed
Convergent
Person
(Motivation)
Reactive
vs
Proactive
Mixed
Proactive
Proactive
Proactive
Mixed
Reactive
Reactive
Person
(Properties)
Adaptive
vs
Innovative
Adaptive
Innovative
Innovative
Innovative
Adaptive
Adaptive
Adaptive
Person
(Feelings)
Conserving
vs
Generative
Conserving
Generative
Generative
Generative
Conserving
Conserving
Conserving
Product
Routine
vs
Creative
Routine
Creative
Creative
Creative
Routine
Routine
Routine
Press
High Demand
vs
Low Demand
High
Low
Low
Low
High
High
High
Cropley, D. H. (2015) Creativity in engineering. In G. E. Corazza and S. Agnoli (Eds.), Multidisciplinary Contributions
to the Science of Creative Thinking, Chapter 10 (pp. 155-173), London, UK: Springer.
23
Educating Engineers for Creativity
The failure of engineering education to adequately address the need for creativity is reflected in the
1996 report of the Alliance of Artists’ Communities (1996) which concluded, that American
creativity is at risk. The problem is not confined to the United States of America, and goes beyond
the artistic or aesthetic focus areas of the report. For example, employers surveyed in Australia in
1999 noted that three-quarters of new university graduates there show skill deficiencies in
creativity, problem-solving, and independent and critical thinking. Also in Australia, in 2013, the
annual Graduate Outlook Survey
2
indicates that “Critical reasoning and analytical skills/Problem
solving/Lateral thinking/Technical skills” is high on the list of selection criteria for employers, and
yet, when asked to rate the employability skills of graduates actually hired in 2013, employers
indicated that only 57.3% exceeded average expectations in problem solving. Tilbury, Reid and
Podger (2003) also reported on an employer survey in Australia which concluded that Australian
graduates lack creativity.
In the United Kingdom, Cooper, Altman and Garner (2002) concluded that the education
system discourages innovation. As an example, The British General Medical Council noted that
medical education is overloaded with factual material that discourages higher order cognitive
functions such as evaluation, synthesis and problem solving, and engenders an attitude of passivity.
Bateman (2013), meanwhile, reports on results of UK employment survey data in the area of
computer science and IT, suggesting that graduates in this domain miss out on employment
opportunities due to a lack of creativity.
A similar picture is reported widely in the United States in various sources. Articles in Time
and Forbes Magazines, for example, suggest that employers are frustrated by the fact that new
graduates are emerging from universities lacking skills in creativity and problem solving.
2
http://www.graduatecareers.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Graduate_Outlook_2013.pdf
Cropley, D. H. (2015) Creativity in engineering. In G. E. Corazza and S. Agnoli (Eds.), Multidisciplinary Contributions
to the Science of Creative Thinking, Chapter 10 (pp. 155-173), London, UK: Springer.
24
The problem is not unique to higher education. Over a period of decades, research has
shown that, while most teachers claim to have a positive attitude to creativity, in classrooms in
many different countries, properties and behaviours actually associated with creativity are
frequently frowned upon. The evidence summarized by Cropley (2001) is that teachers discourage
traits such as boldness, desire for novelty or originality, or even actively dislike children who
display such characteristics. Therefore, despite widespread calls for creativity, there may be limited
efforts to foster its emergence, or even dislike of people who display it.
The situation in engineering education seems to be no different. The United Kingdom’s
Royal Academy of Engineering published the report Creating Systems that Work: Principles of
Engineering Systems for the 21st Century in June 2007 (Elliott & Deasley, 2007). Among six
principles that the report states are necessary for “understanding the challenges of a system design
problem and for educating engineers to rise to those challenges” (p.11) is an ability to “be creative”.
The report further recognizes the key role that creativity plays in successful engineering and defines
creativity as the ability “to devise novel and … effective solutions to the real problem” (p. 4)!
Baillie (2002) similarly noted an “…increasing perception of the need for graduates of engineering
to be creative thinkers…” (p. 185).
Cropley and Cropley (2005) reviewed findings on fostering creativity in engineering
education in the United States of America, and concluded that there is little support for creative
students. It is true that there has been some effort in recent years to encourage creativity in colleges
and universities: For instance, in 1990 the National Science Foundation (NSF) established the
Engineering Coalition of Schools for Excellence and Leadership (ECSEL). This had the goal of
transforming undergraduate engineering education. However, a subsequent review of practice
throughout higher education in the United States (Fasko, 2001) pointed out that the available
information indicated that deliberate training in creativity was rare.
Cropley, D. H. (2015) Creativity in engineering. In G. E. Corazza and S. Agnoli (Eds.), Multidisciplinary Contributions
to the Science of Creative Thinking, Chapter 10 (pp. 155-173), London, UK: Springer.
25
Kazerounian and Foley (2007) restate the fundamental problem: “If creativity is so central to
engineering, why is it not an obvious part of the engineering curriculum at every university?” They
suggested that this is because it is “not valued in contemporary engineering education” (p. 762), but
the problem runs deeper than that. Why is the compelling pressure for creativity in engineering
education largely ignored? Cropley (2015) suggests at least three problems are causing creativity to
be ignored in engineering education: (a) engineering degrees are focused on narrow specializations;
(b) teaching focuses too much on the acquisition of factual knowledge; (c) educators lack a detailed
understanding of creativity.
Solutions to these problems require many changes. A starting point is Sternberg (2007) who
outlined three things promote the habit of creativity (p. 3). These should serve as general principles
for curriculum and program design in engineering. First, students must have the opportunity to
engage in creativity. These must be embedded throughout programs and courses in an integrated
and mutually reinforcing manner. Second, students must receive positive encouragement as they
engage in tasks requiring creativity. Third, students must be rewarded when they demonstrate the
desired creativity.
Sternberg (2007) (p.8-15) further outlines twelve strategies (Table 8) that guide the
development of the creativity habit. This is not to suggest that every aspect of engineering learning
must be transformed. There will remain many areas of the curriculum that are best served by
convergent approaches there is, after all, still only one right answer to the question “what is
2+2?”. However, wherever practical, these strategies should be used to guide the development of
creativity as a desirable and vital graduate quality:
Cropley, D. H. (2015) Creativity in engineering. In G. E. Corazza and S. Agnoli (Eds.), Multidisciplinary Contributions
to the Science of Creative Thinking, Chapter 10 (pp. 155-173), London, UK: Springer.
26
Table 8: Twelve Keys for Developing the Creativity Habit (Sternberg, 2007)
Summary of Habit Key
Redefine Problems
Question and Analyse Assumptions
Do Not Assume that Creative Ideas Sell Themselves: Sell Them
Encourage Idea Generation
Recognize That Knowledge is a Double-Edged Sword and Act Accordingly
Encourage Children to Identify and Surmount Obstacles
Encourage Sensible Risk-Taking
Encourage Tolerance of Ambiguity
Help Children Build Self-Efficacy
Help Children Find What They Love to Do
Teach Children the Importance of Delaying Gratification
Provide an Environment That Fosters Creativity
There is a great deal needed to transform the understanding of creativity in engineering, and
to embed creativity in engineering education. An important starting point is the recognition that
creativity is already well defined, and that there is an accessible and useful framework for
understanding the factors that foster, and inhibit, creativity. Perhaps the single most important factor
for progress in engineering creativity is to avoid reinventing the wheel, and to build on the body of
knowledge much of which sits in the discipline of psychology that has been developed since the
late 1950s.
References
Baillie, C. (2002). Enhancing creativity in engineering students. Engineering Science & Education
Journal, 11(5), 185-192.
Cropley, D. H. (2015) Creativity in engineering. In G. E. Corazza and S. Agnoli (Eds.), Multidisciplinary Contributions
to the Science of Creative Thinking, Chapter 10 (pp. 155-173), London, UK: Springer.
27
Bateman, K. (2013, April 18, 2013). IT students miss out on roles due to lack of creativity.
ComputerWeekly.com.
Benson, C. (2004). Professor John Eggleston Memorial Lecture 2004-Creativity: Caught or Taught?
Journal of Design & Technology Education, 9(3), 138-144.
Blumrich, J. F. (1970). Design. Science, 168, 1551-1554.
Boden, M. A. (1994). What is creativity? In M. A. Boden (Ed.), Dimensions of creativity (pp. 75-
118). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Brockman, J. B. (2009). Introduction to engineering: modeling and problem solving. Hoboken, NJ:
John Wiley & Sons Inc.
Buhl, H. R. (1960). Creative engineering design: Iowa State University Press.
Communities., A. o. A. (1996). American creativity at risk: Restoring creativity as a priority in
public policy, cultural philanthropy, and education. Retrieved from Portland, OR:
Cooper, C., Altman, W., & Garner, A. (2002). Inventing for Business success: Texere, Nueva York.
Cropley, A. J. (1997). Creativity: A bundle of paradoxes. Gifted and Talented International, 12(1),
8-14.
Cropley, A. J. (2001). Creativity in Education and Learning: A Guide for Teachers and Educators.
London, UK: Kogan Page.
Cropley, A. J. (2006). In praise of convergent thinking. Creativity Research Journal, 18(3), 391-
404.
Cropley, A. J., & Cropley, D. H. (2008). Resolving the paradoxes of creativity: An extended phase
model. Cambridge Journal of Education, 38(3), 355-373.
Cropley, A. J., & Cropley, D. H. (2009). Fostering creativity: A diagnostic approach for education
and organizations. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.
Cropley, D. H. (2006). The role of creativity as a driver of innovation. Paper presented at the IEEE
International Conference on the Management of Information Technology, Singapore.
Cropley, D. H. (2015) Creativity in engineering. In G. E. Corazza and S. Agnoli (Eds.), Multidisciplinary Contributions
to the Science of Creative Thinking, Chapter 10 (pp. 155-173), London, UK: Springer.
28
Cropley, D. H. (2015). Creativity in engineering: Novel solutions to complex problems. San Diego:
Academic Press.
Cropley, D. H., & Cropley, A. J. (2005). Engineering creativity: A systems concept of functional
creativity. In J. C. Kaufman & J. Baer (Eds.), Faces of the Muse: How People Think, Work
and Act Creatively in Diverse Domains (pp. 169-185). Hillsdale: NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Cropley, D. H., & Cropley, A. J. (2011). Understanding value innovation in organizations: A
psychological framework. International Journal of Creativity and Problem Solving, 21(1),
17-36.
Cropley, D. H., & Cropley, A. J. (2012). A psychological taxonomy of organizational innovation:
resolving the paradoxes. Creativity Research Journal, 24(1), 29-40.
Cropley, D. H., & Cropley, A. J. (2013). Creativity and crime: A psychological approach.
Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Cropley, D. H., Cropley, A. J., Chiera, B. A., & Kaufman, J. C. (2013). Diagnosing organizational
innovation: Measuring the capacity for innovation. Creativity Research Journal, 25(4), 388-
396.
Cropley, D. H., & Kaufman, J. C. (2012). Measuring functional creativity: Non-expert raters and
the creative solution diagnosis scale. The Journal of Creative Behavior, 46(2), 119-137.
Cropley, D. H., Kaufman, J. C., & Cropley, A. J. (2011). Measuring creativity for innovation
management. Journal of Technology Management & Innovation, 6(3), 13-30.
Dickson, P. (2001). Sputnik: The shock of the century. USA.: Walker Publishing Company.
Dieter, G. E., & Schmidt, L. C. (2012). Engineering design (5th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill
Higher Education.
Elliott, C., & Deasley, P. (Eds.). (2007). Creating systems that work: Principles of engineering
systems for the 21st century. London: The Royal Academy of Engineering.
Fasko, D. (2001). Education and creativity. Creativity Research Journal, 13(3-4), 317-327.
Cropley, D. H. (2015) Creativity in engineering. In G. E. Corazza and S. Agnoli (Eds.), Multidisciplinary Contributions
to the Science of Creative Thinking, Chapter 10 (pp. 155-173), London, UK: Springer.
29
Florida, R. (2002). The rise of the creative class. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Guilford, J. P. (1950). Creativity. American Psychologist, 5, 444-454.
Guilford, J. P. (1959). Traits of creativity. In H. H. Anderson (Ed.), Creativity and its cultivation
(pp. 142-161). New York: Harper.
Horenstein, M. N. (2002). Design concepts for engineers (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ:
Prentice-Hall, Inc.
Kawenski, M. (1991). Encouraging creativity in design. The Journal of Creative Behavior, 25(3),
263-266.
Kazerounian, K., & Foley, S. (2007). Barriers to creativity in engineering education: A study of
instructors and students perceptions. Journal of Mechanical Design, 129, 761-768.
MacKinnon, D. W. (1978). In search of human effectiveness: Identifying and developing creativity.
Buffalo, NY: Creative Education Foundation.
McWilliam, E., Dawson, S., & Tan, J. P.-L. (2011). Less elusive, more explicit. The challenge of
‘seeing’creativity in action. In P. Thomson & J. Sefton-Green (Eds.), Researching creative
learning: methods and issues (pp. 113-125). London: Routledge.
Mednick, S. A. (1962). The associative basis of creativity. Psychological Review, 69, 220-232.
Mokyr, J. (1990). The lever of riches: Technological creativity and economic progress. New York,
NY: Oxford University Press.
Morgan, D. N. (1953). Creativity today: A constructive analytic review of certain philosophical and
psychological Work. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 12(1), 1-24.
Olken, H. (1964). Creativity training for engineers - its past, present and future. International
Association for Engineering Education Transactions in Education, 149-161.
Plucker, J. A., Beghetto, R. A., & Dow, G. T. (2004). Why isn't creativity more important to
educational psychologists? Potentials, pitfalls, and future directions in creativity research.
Educational Psychologist, 39(2), 83-96.
Cropley, D. H. (2015) Creativity in engineering. In G. E. Corazza and S. Agnoli (Eds.), Multidisciplinary Contributions
to the Science of Creative Thinking, Chapter 10 (pp. 155-173), London, UK: Springer.
30
Rhodes, M. (1961). An analysis of creativity. The Phi Delta Kappan, 42(7), 305-310.
Sprecher, T. B. (1959). A study of engineers' criteria for creativity. Journal of Applied Psychology,
43(2), 141-148.
Stein, M. I. (1953). Creativity and culture. Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied,
36, 311-322.
Sternberg, R. J. (2007). Creativity as a habit. In A.-G. Tan (Ed.), Creativity: A handbook for
teachers (pp. 3-25). Singapore: World Scientific.
Tilbury, D., Reid, A., & Podger, D. (2003). Action research for university staff: changing curricula
and graduate skills towards sustainability, Stage 1 Report. Retrieved from Canberra:
Wallas, G. (1926). The art of thought. New York, NY: Harcourt Brace.
INDEX Terms
Convergent Thinking
Creativity
Design
Divergent Thinking
Education
Effectiveness
Elegance
Engineering
Genesis
Habit
Innovation
Novelty
Paradox
Person
Cropley, D. H. (2015) Creativity in engineering. In G. E. Corazza and S. Agnoli (Eds.), Multidisciplinary Contributions
to the Science of Creative Thinking, Chapter 10 (pp. 155-173), London, UK: Springer.
31
Phases
Press
Process
Product
Sputnik
Technology
... Creativity is essential to engineering [30]. Creativity is more like a mental attribute to generate new and helpful ideas, and engineering is a field in which to manifest the level of creativity and make creative ideas concrete [31]. In higher education, however, fostering creativity in engineering has been underemphasized [31]. ...
... Creativity is more like a mental attribute to generate new and helpful ideas, and engineering is a field in which to manifest the level of creativity and make creative ideas concrete [31]. In higher education, however, fostering creativity in engineering has been underemphasized [31]. Using the Ten Maxims of Creativity in Education, an instrument to evaluate students' perceptions of how creativity is encouraged in their learning, researchers [32] found that creativity fostering methods are severely missing from students' perceptions. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
(Permanent URL: https://peer.asee.org/41420) Creativity is critical to innovation; therefore, it is essential that engineering faculty members seeking to prepare their students for an increasingly complex, innovation-driven workforce should demonstrate not only understanding of and desire for creative thinking in their classrooms, but also competency in teaching creativity, including creative thinking and creative practices. However, to help cultivate such competency, it is first important to understand how faculty members’ growth environments and cultural backgrounds inform their understanding of creativity, including how such understanding affects their choices of teaching methods or strategies to foster students’ creativity. In this work, we interviewed ten engineering faculty members from diverse backgrounds at a Midwest R1 university in the United States to explore (1) how their cultural backgrounds impacted their perceptions and understanding of creativity and (2) their selection of creativity-fostering methods in instruction. Of the ten faculty members, nine were early-career faculty (with less than five years of teaching experience in higher education), while one had five to ten years of teaching experience in higher education. Eight of the faculty were tenure-track faculty, with one being recently tenured, and two were non-tenure-track teaching faculty. Two of the faculty identified as women, while the remaining eight identified as men. Five were born and reared in Asian countries (two from China, one from India, one from Sri Lanka, and one from Turkey), while the other five were born and reared in the United States. The use of “(inter)national” within the title of this essay is intended to represent the analytical tensions between (1) faculty that were born in the same country, which is expressed through emphasizing the prefix inter- within parentheses, as well as (2) faculty living and working in a country different from their country of upbringing, expressed through the term international. We explored their teaching philosophies, perceptions of creativity, and classroom teaching during the interviews. Here, we discuss the differences that arose amongst the ten faculty members’ understanding of creativity, and their choices of teaching methods, from the perspective of their cultural backgrounds. Overall, we found that, despite differences in cultural customs, the faculty shared similar views on the perceptions and importance of creativity. All of them defined creativity as a competency to demonstrate a “different thinking” mindset or to propose novel ideas, methods, or solutions. Some of them also defined creativity as the problem-solving ability. They mentioned similar methods to implement creative thinking and creative practices in an engineering classroom, but their perceptions also divided in some cases. They all enjoyed discussing with students. They believed that free discussion helped students open their minds and would be beneficial to foster students’ creativity. However, the U.S. faculty members mentioned using lectures or slide presentations more than the Asian faculty members. The Asian faculty members, who are traditionally believed to be more used to a teacher-centered teaching preference, were eager to demonstrate how creatively they can teach. More detailed results and potential causes ars discussed in our manuscript. This study provides us with knowledge about how cultural backgrounds might impact faculty members’ perceptions of creativity and their preferences of choosing or using creativity-fostering methods in their teaching. This exploration allows us to meet faculty where they are and develop an effective intervention to help faculty build competency in integrating evidence-based creative thinking practices and exercises into their engineering teaching. The intervention should, in turn, help engineering students engage more with creativity concepts/practices/activities in engineering classes.
... Thus, if solutions to new problems remain like past problems, they face a stagnation of development. Otherwise, if an obtained solution is new or novel, a creative solution, this certainly will drive technology or redirects the market pull (Cropley & Cropley, 2016). ...
... C. Kaufman, Plucker, & Baer, 2008). creativity in engineering is concerned with solving problems, but the solution engineers devise does not emerge in a single step; engineers use a sequence of stages (Cropley, 2016). ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Creativity grows in importance, and it is considered one of the skills that an engineering curriculum should be instilled in future professionals. Creativity is crucial for engineering, given the growing scope of challenges and complexity, and the diversity of technologies. However, creativity has not been sufficiently included in the engineering curricula because it is considered innate to the area. Consequently, we observe barriers to creativity in engineering education like lack of or poor conceptualization of creativity by students, little attention to creativity by teachers, and 'insufficient time' for activities aimed to develop problem-solving and creativity skills. This work focuses on presenting how the creative process and research on creativity can be integrated into Project-Based Learning (PBL) approaches. Thus, this paper intends to relate the creative process, the five Ps model of creativity (Person, Process, Product, Press, and Phases), and the aligned model proposed by (Kolmos, de Graaff, & Du, 2009) that considers seven elements. For example, we observe a close relationship between the elements of the PBL alignment model and the creativity integration as explicitly part of a curriculum; the element progression, size and duration, and creative process; the element spaces and organization, and environments for encouraging creative thinking, only for citing some matches. Likewise, we observe an important link between creativity for problem-solving in a novel way and PBL as a learning approach for solving problems under the exemplarity principle. The analysis seeks to create a general framework to enhance the comprehension of creativity in engineering education when a PBL approach is considered. The goal is to show the distinctive characteristics of PBL that favour the encouragement of the creative process and how the PBL alignment model's elements correspond to crucial elements and factors of creativity.
... Creative thinking is a key ingredient for a successful career, with the need for generating novel and innovative solutions to real-world problems typically posing a greater challenge than finding simple correct solutions to schoolwork-type problem sets (e.g., Cropley, 2016;Puccio, 2017). A growing literature has used creativity (e.g., divergent thinking (DT); Guilford, 1967) tasks, in which people generate as many creative ideas for an open-ended prompt as possible, to examine neural processes associated with creative thinking. ...
Article
When people are placed in a situation where they are at risk of substantiating a negative stereotype about their social group (a scenario termed stereotype threat), the extra pressure to avoid this outcome can undermine their performance. Substantial and consistent gender disparities in STEM fields leave women vulnerable to stereotype threat, including the stereotype that women are not as good at generating creative and innovative ideas as men. We tested whether female students' creative thinking is affected by a stereotype threat by measuring power in the alpha frequency band (8-12Hz oscillations) that has been associated with better creative thinking outcomes. Counter to expectations that a stereotype threat would reduce alpha power associated with creative thinking, analyses showed increased alpha power following the introduction of the stereotype threat. This outcome suggests that women may have attempted to increase their internal attention during the task in order to disprove the stereotype. Behaviorally, this effort did not lead to changes in creative performance, suggesting that the stereotype threat decoupled alpha power from creative thinking outcomes. These results support a growing school of thought in the neuroscience of creativity literature that the alpha power often seen in conjunction with creative behavior is not necessarily related to the creativity processes themselves, but rather might be part of a larger network modulating the distribution of attentional resources more broadly.
... Creativity in engineering is concerned with solving problems, but the solution engineers devise does not emerge in a single step; engineers use various stages (Cropley 2016). To understand creativity in engineering, it is necessary to understand how the 4P model intersects with the stages used in engineering problem-solving, leading to a fifth P (Phases) (Cropley 2015a). ...
... Given that deficits in cognitive flexibility have been associated with depression and anxiety (Gabrys et al., 2018), suicidal ideation (Lai et al., 2018), and eating disorders (Tchanturia et al., 2012), it would be beneficial to further investigate whether using lighthearted statements and humor can help create a cheerful mindset and environment that is conducive to creativity and cognitive flexibility in a therapeutic setting and whether or not this aids in developing a strong therapeutic alliance. It may also be of interest to investigate whether increasing self/everyday creativity, through a variety of cognitive trainings that encourage divergent thinking such as symbolic relations, divergent figural transformations, and divergent semantic relations (Cropley, 2016), also increase one's cheerfulness. Additionally, conducting research on various daily activities that have the potential to increase self/everyday creativity (e.g., various artistic endeavors, endeavors that involve problem solving and critical thinking, etc.), which may in turn increase one's cheerfulness could have positive implications to improving upon one's quality of life. ...
... As a result of this study, we identify a theoretical framework to illustrate the engineer best prepared for the future of work through an environment where management facilitates creative problem solving. Much research has considered occupational factors that foster or impede creativity at work (see Carmeli et al., 2013;Tavares, 2016;Reiter-Palmon and Royston, 2017;Greenbaum et al., 2020) and some research has examined creativity and engineering (see Cropley, 2015bCropley, , 2016. However, to the best of our knowledge, no research has examined the concept of creativity and PSC in the engineering workplace. ...
Article
Full-text available
The future of work is forcing the world to adjust to a new paradigm of working. New skills will be required to create and adopt new technology and working methods. Additionally, cognitive skills, particularly creative problem-solving , will be highly sought after. The future of work paradigm has threatened many occupations but bolstered others such as engineering. Engineers must keep up to date with the technological and cognitive demands brought on by the future of work. Using an exploratory mixed-methods approach, our study sought to make sense of how engineers understand and use creative problem solving. We found significant associations between engineers’ implicit knowledge of creativity, exemplified creative problem solving, and the perceived value of creativity. We considered that the work environment is a potential facilitator of creative problem-solving. We used an innovative exceptional cases analysis and found that the highest functioning engineers in terms of knowledge, skills, and perceived value of creativity, also reported working in places that facilitate psychosocially safe environments to support creativity. We propose a new theoretical framework for a creative environment by integrating the Four Ps (Person, Process, Product, and Press) and psychosocial safety climate theory that management could apply to facilitate creative problem solving. Through the acquisition of knowledge to engage in creative problem solving as individuals or a team, a perception of value must be present to enforce the benefit of creativity to the engineering role. The future of work paradigm requires that organisations provide an environment, a psychosocially safe climate, for engineers to grow and hone their sought-after skills that artificial technologies cannot currently replace.
Article
Full-text available
This article presents how Problem- and Project-Based Learning (PBL) in engineering education can exploit the theoretical framework of the Space–Time (ST)-Continuum, according to which educational contexts can be classified in terms of the tightness vs. looseness of the relevant conceptual space S and available time T. By crossing these two dimensions, four quadrants are obtained in the ST-Continuum: tight space and tight time, loose space and tight time, tight space and loose time, loose space and loose time. Different pedagogies are adaptive to different quadrants. We show how PBL can be mapped onto the ST-Continuum depending on the context characteristics or the chosen problem or project. Further, this article discusses how the intelligence and creativity constructs can be developed through diverse educational scenarios, giving examples of PBL interventions that can be located in different quadrants. Moreover, the analysis shows how through suitable planning, it is possible to have educational activities that consider all the quadrants of the ST-Continuum, even in traditional education curricula or teacher-centered approaches. Finally, the article discusses how teaching practices can promote intelligence and creativity in the curricula at different PBL organisational levels depending on their relationship with the ST-Continuum.
Chapter
Through a school case study, we explore how creativity can be enhanced through the integration of the arts in approaches to science, technology, engineering and mathematics [STEM]. STEM approaches have achieved increasing prominence in the Australian educational context in recent years, due to the perceived benefits of improving student creativity and innovation, as well as the potential enhancement of Australia’s performance in international testing and the global economy (Office of the Chief Scientist, 2014). Incorporating the arts into STEM approaches has been identified as a potential way that creativity can be enriched (Conradty and Bogner, Creat Res J 31(3): 284–295, 2019). A key recommendation for the National Science and Innovation Agenda has been a more explicit recognition of the importance of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics [STEAM] and the arts in general (Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, 2017). This chapter discusses the benefits and challenges of STEAM approaches and examines some of the issues with implementing a whole-school approach to STEAM. It will consider key literature in relation to pedagogical approaches, teacher development and the influence of STEAM approaches on creativity. The STEAM story of a primary Western Australian Catholic school will be presented as an illustrative case study to support the discussion.
Article
p style="text-align: justify;">Corresponding to industry trends and changes in engineering education accreditation criteria, non-technical professional skills training is now seen as central to baccalaureate engineering education. Beyond simply developing good managers in the engineering fields, engineering educators have adopted a goal to prepare engineering students to be leaders who can provide vision to their organizations with strong ethical standards. This study investigated engineering undergraduate students’ leadership efficacy development associated with such professional skills as self-awareness, global competence, ethical awareness, creativity, and teamwork skills. Responding to an online survey, 247 engineering undergraduates who were enrolled in an engineering leadership course participated in this study. Results of this study indicated that there are positive associations among the five professional skills (e.g., self-awareness, ethical awareness, global competency, creativity, and teamwork skills), and engineering leadership self-efficacy for engineering undergraduate students. The five professional skills (self-awareness, ethical awareness, global competency, creativity, and teamwork skills) predicted 54% of the overall variance of engineering leadership self-efficacy.</p
Chapter
The promotion of creativity in education is intended to address many of the political challenges and goals for the development of a country, but among all of them the role of creativity in technology and economics is seen as crucial in helping nations to achieve higher employment, better economic performance and to cope with global competition. This study, currently in its preliminary phase, aims to compare the creativity levels of first-year students at a medium-sized Italian university. The degree courses in Engineering Management, Mechanical Engineering, Law and Motor Sciences were analyzed. In this analysis, students’ creativity is measured with the “Forward Flow” test by Gray et al. This test implements a new metric that uses latent semantic analysis to measure the evolution of thoughts over time. Operationally, students are asked to produce a sequence of semantically related words from a given initial word. Latent semantic analysis calculates the semantic distance between words by examining the frequency with which they appear together in a very large collection of documents. Studies conducted on the test, found in the literature, reveal that Forward Flow can predict the creativity of college students. According to these studies, even that membership in real-world creative groups (e.g. professional actors or entrepreneurs) is statistically predicted by scores on the Forward Flow test, even when controlling for divergent thinking.
Article
The subject of creativity has been neglected by psychologists. The immediate problem has two aspects. (1) How can we discover creative promise in our children and our youth, (2) How can we promote the development of creative personalities. Creative talent cannot be accounted for adequately in terms of I.Q. A new way of thinking about creativity and creative productivity is seen in the factorial conceptions of personality. By application of factor analysis a fruitful exploratory approach can be made. Carefully constructed hypotheses concerning primary abilities will lead to the use of novel types of tests. New factors will be discovered that will provide us with means to select individuals with creative personalities. The properties of primary abilities should be studied to improve educational methods and further their utilization. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Conference Paper
Humour has long been associated with creativity, however the link has rarely been applied to engineering design. This paper highlights analogies between humour creation and engineering design, and discusses opportunities to develop new processes and methods that could reinvigorate engineering concept design. Idea generation methods have been explored within the realms of improvised comedy and the visual medium of comic strips. The structures and principles of these creative humour processes present opportunities to view complex engineering problems from new and surprising perspectives. http://strathprints.strath.ac.uk/56133/