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The fast paced environment with ever evolving technology necessitates an education system facilitating creativity, innovation and critical thinking. The Indian management education system needs to make rigorous efforts to create a nation of thinkers capable of changing the box; rather than thinking out of the box. We need to move towards an approach wherein students" autonomous learning and self expression is put in front. This self-directed and open-ended learning will inculcate "divergent thinking" among the students; equipping them with higher level of potential to handle the uncertainties enveloping any situation. Divergent thinkers are capable of identifying gaps and inconsistencies in life, and they often derive contentment by exploring or filling those gaps by applying their intelligence (Maxwell, 2009). As educators we should present conditions where solutions are not apparently visible, where students are encouraged to search for order in a seemingly chaotic situation. Simply "telling" will not work; we need to make the students capable of finding clarity amidst all the obstacles of confusion and complexity. Learning as a productive process should produce stages of disequilibrium brought on by novel ideas to foster and cultivate divergent thinking among the students. Divergent thinking will empower the students to come up with creative ideas or solutions and augment their problem-solving skills. Management teaching strategies that hone divergent thinking skills not only makes the classroom environment vibrant but also helps the students in developing an understanding and appreciating differences in various approaches directed towards solving a problem. With this background, the objective of our present work is to promote an approach which encourages divergent thinking among the students in management educational institutes. Deliberation on the concept and benefits of divergent thinking will lead to identifying various means/methods of cultivating and strengthening divergent thinking skills among the budding managers of tomorrow. Design / Methodology / Approach-Through different keywords, relevant research papers on Google scholar were taken for the study. In addition, various databases like Questia on-line library, EBSCO Host, Emerald Management, Elseiver, etc were selected for conducting the present exploratory work. Originality / Value-The findings of the study will offer guidance to the management institutes towards developing a teaching pedagogy which encourages divergent thinking among the students; thus preparing them as the backbone of innovation in our economy. The outlined management teaching strategies to hone divergent thinking skills among students will make the classroom environment vibrant and will also help them in developing an understanding and appreciating differences in various approaches directed towards solving a problem.
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Volume-03 ISSN: 2455-3085 (Online)
Issue-10 RESEARCH REVIEW International Journal of Multidisciplinary
October-2018 www.rrjournals.com [UGC Listed Journal]
© RRIJM 2015, All Rights Reserved 1004 | P a g e
Divergent Thinking It‟s Time to Change the Box!
1Puja Khatri & *2Sumedha Dutta
1Professor, University School of Management Studies, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Delhi (India)
*2Assistant Professor with Maharaja Agrasen Institute of Management Studies, Delhi & Research Scholar at University School of
Management Studies, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Delhi (India)
ARTICLE DETAILS
ABSTRACT
Article History
Published Online: 10 October 2018
The fast paced environment with ever evolving technology necessitates an education
system facilitating creativity, innovation and critical thinking. The Indian management
education system needs to make rigorous efforts to create a nation of thinkers capable of
changing the box; rather than thinking out of the box. We need to move towards an
approach wherein students‟ autonomous learning and self expression is put in front. This
self directed and open ended learning will inculcate „divergent thinking‟ among the
students; equipping them with higher level of potential to handle the uncertainties
enveloping any situation. Divergent thinkers are capable of identifying gaps and
inconsistencies in life, and they often derive contentment by exploring or filling those gaps
by applying their intelligence (Maxwell, 2009). As educators we should present conditions
where solutions are not apparently visible, where students are encouraged to search for
order in a seemingly chaotic situation. Simply „telling‟ will not work; we need to make the
students capable of finding clarity amidst all the obstacles of confusion and complexity.
Learning as a productive process should produce stages of disequilibrium brought on by
novel ideas to foster and cultivate divergent thinking among the students. Divergent thinking
will empower the students to come up with creative ideas or solutions and augment their
problem solving skills. Management teaching strategies that hone divergent thinking skills
not only makes the classroom environment vibrant but also helps the students in developing
an understanding and appreciating differences in various approaches directed towards
solving a problem. With this background, the objective of our present work is to promote an
approach which encourages divergent thinking among the students in management
educational institutes. Deliberation on the concept and benefits of divergent thinking will
lead to identifying various means/methods of cultivating and strengthening divergent
thinking skills among the budding managers of tomorrow.
Design / Methodology / Approach - Through different keywords, relevant research papers
on Google scholar were taken for the study. In addition, various databases like Questia on
line library, EBSCO Host, Emerald Management, Elseiver, etc were selected for conducting
the present exploratory work.
Originality / Value - The findings of the study will offer guidance to the management
institutes towards developing a teaching pedagogy which encourages divergent thinking
among the students; thus preparing them as the backbone of innovation in our economy.
The outlined management teaching strategies to hone divergent thinking skills among
students will make the classroom environment vibrant and will also help them in developing
an understanding and appreciating differences in various approaches directed towards
solving a problem.
Keywords
Creativity, Divergent Thinking,
Convergent Thinking, Higher Education
JEL Classification D83, O30, I23
*Corresponding Author
Email: sumedha.maims[at]gmail.com
1. Introduction
The early 21st century strikes with the start of a novel
„dynamic era‟ of business. The vibrant and multi-faceted
environment is characterized by cut-throat competition, rapid
changes and turbulence. The operations in modern
organizations is characterized with expressions, such as,
Digitalization, Information Age, Internet era, the Web economy,
knowledge based economy and a time filled with vagueness
and disruptions. These listed expressions necessitate fresh
approach towards working of the organizations with a view to
earn competitive advantage. Under such conditions, it is
imperative for managers to keep abreast with the current
trends, concepts, techniques, methods and principles for
continuous improvement and effective management of the
organizations. Sustainable competitive edge is earned by
organizations which are able to carve a niche for themselves
by significantly outperforming their rivals. Such organizations
augment their performance and break their own performance
benchmarks by implementing innovative techniques,
introducing unique quality products and providing services;
building a strong and positive brand image in the minds of
target audiences. Thus, organizations hunt for managers, who
are well equipped with unparallel challenges arising on account
of technological pace, technological advances, diverse
workforce, etc. The managers need to be effectual in
generating sustainable growth for the future by making the
most of the opportunities.
In this connection, the management institutes should strive
towards creating divergent thinking environment in their
Volume-03, Issue-10, October-2018 RESEARCH REVIEW International Journal of Multidisciplinary
© RRIJM 2015, All Rights Reserved 1005 | Page
classroom teaching so that the same can be extended by the
students when they enter into the corporate world. They should
encourage the students to challenge and overcome the
traditional techniques and concepts of management in the
advent of a new dynamic era. Not only should they develop
attributes like integrity, communication, vision, inquisitiveness
among students; they should also be equipped with the skills of
identifying unexplored and not-so apparent solutions in the
face of challenges. In other words, the institutes need to create
more „divergent‟ managers for the organizations.
Research suggests that, as children, our divergence ability
is at its peak; however, this ability tends to significantly
decrease as we attain adulthood. Perhaps, as faculty and
adults, we should lay focus on encouraging imagination into
everyday life in our educational curriculum. Yet, at times,
teachers become frustrated with the inability of the students to
think creatively, as illustrated by Sir Ken Robinson‟s celebrated
Ted Talk, identifying fault in education system itself for putting
an end to this imagination. In educational institutes, divergent
thinking is discouraged when students worry about doing or
saying „wrong thing‟ in class. This scenario has become quite
common in the educational institutes as teachers and peer
groups keep a watch on those who say or do things which are
„off - script‟. Such a system of overt - convergence in a
consciously established tolerant environment is imposed by a
grading culture that emphasizes on penalizing the students for
acting „wrong‟ or going „off the script.‟ And thus, in such an
educational environment students exhibiting non normative
behaviours are ridiculed by other students. Hence, if divergent
thinking is critical to facilitate creativity, it explains why students
face inhibitions in spelling out their imagination and divergent
thoughts.
In our classrooms, we can observe certain well-founded
reasons for discouraging divergent thinking. In divergent
thinking, all ideas are treated at par irrespective of applicability
or context and discounts criteria or any assessment process. It
refers to a way of thinking in which ideas breeds into the mind
with the knowledge that there are no incorrect answers.
Starting from the elementary education, divergent thinking is
important as it provides freedom to students to practice putting
imagination at front in almost every situation. This imagination,
in the long run, may yield to improved problem solving skills
among students as they grow up and become mature adults.
At times, in specific situations, like chemistry lab or playground,
divergent behaviour may actually result in physical impairment.
Moreover, we expect display of good judgement from our
students; we expect them to follow convergent thinking so as
to arrive at right decisions. When rules or guidelines are
discarded by students, divergent thinking and behaviour
becomes a challenge to be addressed by the educators at all
levels.
The onus of viewing good judgement from a different lens
and taking into account what is best for our student‟s humanity
and character lies on the academia. Continuously evolving job
landscape makes it imperative for educational institutes to
prepare students for an unpredictable future. Thus, divergent
thinking is possibly the most significant skill we ought to teach
students. It is in this spirit, that the current work is presented to
highlight the importance of divergent thinking and also clarify
the factors inhibiting the spread of divergent thinking and
behaviours, in the educational environment. We have also
enumerated how divergent thinking skill will prepare our
students to handle the unpredictable changes taking place in
the business environment. Towards the end, strategies
encouraging divergent thinking in the classroom environment
are also enumerated.
2. Literature Review
The term „divergent‟ refers to the tendency to stand apart
or identify a different direction. It describes the capability of the
mind to produce ideas beyond the agreed expectations and
rote thinking. In simple terms, it is „thinking outside the box‟;
frequently associated with creativity. „Divergent thinking‟
denotes the strategy of resolving problems/issues by
considering various possible solutions with a view to search for
a workable one. This happens in a spontaneous and a free
flowing manner; wherein numerous creative ideas are
stimulated and appraised. Various possible solutions are
deliberated in a short time span and unconventional
connections may be sketched. Maintaining a journal,
meditation, bubble mapping, subject mapping, creating
artwork, preparing lists of questions, free wheeling, brain
storming, etc are some of the activities which prompt divergent
thinking. The two process comprising of divergent thinking are
free writing and brain storming. This divergence indicates the
capacity to generate various complex or complicated ideas
from a single idea. This requires making unexpected
permutations, altering information into unexpected forms,
recognizing links among far-off associates, etc. In their book,
titled, Visionizing, both Osborn and Parnes, highlight the need
for breaking all the barriers restricting the area of divergent
thinking. In their opinion, adverse criticism should be avoided.
To augment the quantity as well as quality of ideas, free
wheeling should be used in management teaching. Through
this we encourage students to chalk out as many as solutions
related to a problem or concept. Students should be
consistently exposed to this exceedingly vital skill.
Razumnikova, Olga (2012) states that J.P Guilford
characterized divergent thinking as a mental process having
the following main attributes in The Encyclopaedia of the
Sciences of Learning (1028):
Fluency - refers to the ability to rapidly identifying
many varied solutions to an issue or problem at hand.
Flexibility implies the feature of being capable to
change effortlessly according to the situation. The
element of flexibility focuses on the ability to approach
a problem from varied view points or perspectives.
Originality is the ability to discover unique, novel or
fresh ideas. It refers to the aspect of creating or
inventing a work which is novel or unique or fresh and
thus discernible from forgeries, clones, reproductions
or derivative works.
Elaboration refers to the ability to actualize each
and every element of ideas and see their role towards
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© RRIJM 2015, All Rights Reserved 1006 | Page
a bigger solution. It refers to the process of
accumulating more information to already available,
comparatively straight forward information to craft a
more multi faceted, evolving whole. Elaboration
involves initializing an idea by integrating aspects to
magnify the original idea. It has the capacity to put in
weight to ideas by adding details.
3. Elements of Divergent Thinking
The structure of divergent thinking firmly rests on the
following elements as indicated in The Encyclopaedia of the
Sciences of Learning (ESL):
Lateral thinking Dr. Edward de Bono, a UK
psychologist, coined the term lateral thinking in 1967
in his book The Use of Lateral Thinking. Dr Bono
elucidated usual problem solving techniques
comprises of step-by-step, linear approach. He
proposes a more creative solution can be arrived at
by following a step sideways to re-assess an issue,
situation or a problem from a completely different
point of view. Lateral thinking attempts to solve a
problem by employing indirect and creative approach,
usually by considering the problem in a novel and
atypical perspective. This unconventional thinking
aids an individual in identifying a creative solution
which otherwise may not be apparent in a given
situation.
Deducting and Inducting Numerous scholars of
repute have established a link between creativity and
reasoning ability (Cattell, 1971; Sternberg & O‟Hara,
1999). Kris (1952) drew a comparison between
primary process thinking (analogical and free
associative) and secondary process thinking
(nonfigurative and target oriented). It is believed that
creative persons exhibit flexibility along the primary
process secondary process continuum, and that
creative view or perspectives have higher chances of
formation in primary process mode of cognition
(Martindale, 1989; Suler, 1980). Creativity,
categorized by idea generation and imagination, is
typically coupled with inductive reasoning (Johnson
Laird & Wason, 1977; Nickerson, 1999); while
deductive reasoning symbolizes the eventual kind of
secondary process thinking (Martindale, 1995).
In induction reasoning an individual makes an effort to
strike at the best existing estimate of the right solution
to problem at hand (Rescher, 1980). It is an attempt
to regulate observations in accord with mental
economy.
Identifying One needs to be alert to identify the
problem so that one can identify the various possible
sources from which relevant information can be
solicited. Identification helps in discovering the strong
links or associations with not so apparent information
sources related to the problem.
Synthesizing The word „synthesis‟ implies merging
diverse range of ideas or parts to arrive at a new /
original theory or solution. In divergent thinking,
synthesizing information is of vital importance.
Synthesizing information, comprises of three parts,
namely, accurate reporting of information solicited
from vivid sources, clear and concise organization of
the information to identify traces of correlation
between the ideas that these sources share and
finally, an unambiguous communication of the
information. This enables one to draw conclusions
and create novel ideas based on information so
learnt.
Differentiating Just like identification of traces of
correlation among different sources of information is
necessary, in the similar lines identifying traces of
difference among these sources also holds equal
importance. This helps in generating a pool of
possible solutions which share some dissimilarity with
each other, though they pertain to the given problem
or issue.
Problem solving refers to the process of finding
solutions to a complex or difficult issues. It also
implies the process of working through aspects of a
problem to strike at a solution. In other words, it is the
act of defining a problem, recognizing its origin,
discovering, prioritizing and deciding on various
possible alternatives for a solution and then
application of the solution.
Critical thinking refers to a particular mode of
thinking, - in which the thinker skilfully analyzes,
assesses and reconstructs his / her thinking about
any issue, subject or problem and thus, augments the
quality of his / her thinking. Critical thinking helps an
individual to comprehend the logic associations
among ideas; recognize, develop and appraise
arguments; identify inconsistencies or errors in
reasoning; systematically solve problems; recognize
the appropriateness and value of ideas and reflect on
the rationalization of one‟s own values and beliefs. In
other words, critical thinking enables an individual to
infer end results from what is known to him / her, seek
out sources of information to update and use
information to find solution to problems.
Creating In divergent thinking creating a solution
holds as much importance as creating a problem.
Asking students to create the problem helps them to
discover all the various perspectives of the problem
which results in a better understanding of it.
4. Importance of Divergent Thinking
Researchers have taken a fancy to the concept of
divergent thinking for varied reasons. For instance, divergent
thinking is often viewed as a good metaphor for cognition
type leading to creation of original ideas. Divergent thinking
stands strikingly apart from convergent thinking, which
characteristically produces predictable and „correct‟ thoughts
and explanations instead of imaginative or unusual
alternatives. Yet divergent thinking, which is referred as
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© RRIJM 2015, All Rights Reserved 1007 | Page
divergent production by Guilford (1950, 1968) goes beyond the
label of a metaphor. One major reason accounting for the
attraction offered by this concept is that it guides straight to
testable hypotheses and provides dependable evaluation of
the probability for creative thought.
Divergent thinking is considered as a significant
constituent of creativity as the generation of various retorts to a
single situation enhances the possibility of an individual of
arriving at a unique and fresh idea (Eysenck, 1995; Mednick,
1962). Undoubtedly, creativity is seen an asset in the place of
work, for individuals as well as organizations.
A movement in education considers divergent thinking as
a potential means for creating more resourceful students.
Divergent thinking provides open ended problems and
promotes students to build up their own answers to problems
rather than offering a chain of problems for rote memorization.
Students demonstrate better mode, a higher level of
confidence and scholastic ability and proclivity for
entrepreneurship when they are encouraged to use divergent
thinking methods (Mrochuk, Aliya, 2016). In the views of
intelligence scholar, James Flynn, divergent thinking tends to
have a cascading effect on a standardized scale. At a global
level, there has been a consistent increase in average IQ
scores since 1930. One rationalization associates this
enhancement to improvements in human being‟s „mental
artillery‟; skill to organize, apply logic on abstract concepts as
well as to seriously consider the imaginary situation. The
ability to construct and evaluate hypothetical situations by
using divergent thinking facilitates individuals to become better
thinkers.
Divergent thinkers are fervent learners. The dynamism in
business scenario continues to rise higher, leaving no room for
inflexibility. Organizations require flexible employees having
eagerness to face unique challenges and look at diverse
opportunities. Divergent thinkers retort to change exceptionally
well. They unhesitatingly come forward to try something
dissimilar. Such employees can be a valuable asset for an
organization which wishes to control costs and develop leaders
from within its manpower.
5. Divergent Thinking vs Convergent Thinking
Though the present work essentially focuses on the need
for nurturing divergent thinking among management students,
we also need to deliberate upon its important counterpart
convergent thinking. Joy Paul Guilford is credited for coining
this problem solving technique, called, convergent thinking. It
entails combining varied ideas from diverse areas or
participants to settle on a single finest answer to a coherently
spelled out problem. Thus, convergent thinking lays emphasis
on identifying a single best solution to a problem in hand.
Convergent thinking is apt for situations for which a readily
available answer is present or it has to be recollected by
decision making strategists. Such thinking primarily rests on
knowledge as it involves using present knowledge via standard
procedures. Convergent thinking lays stress on speed and
depends on high precision and judgment.
Divergent thinking indicates solving problems by
identifying varied possible solutions with an effort to find out a
workable one. This stands in contrast to convergent thinking
wherein the focus is on identifying a pre determined or finite
number of solutions instead of suggesting manifold solutions.
Divergent thinking rests on the idea that at times, numerous
unrelated solutions may have the potential to bring forth a best
one.
Colzato, Ozturk & Hommel (2012) disputed that
convergent thinking necessitates a sturdy top down control
since it symbolizes a securely inhibited look for very few or just
a single solution. Whereas, divergent thinking thrives on weak
or frail top down control because it requires a broad, freely
delineated exploration space with a view to trigger as many
varied solutions or items satisfying the comparatively supple
criterion (Hommel, 2012). Therefore, convergent and divergent
thinking are expected to vary from each other in their
dependence on managerial control for information processing.
Both the above thinking strategies show many shades of
similarity as they both are applied to determine solutions to
problems. Moreover, both strategies aim at identifying the best
solutions. In practical situations, a blend of divergent and
convergent thinking is frequently observed. Best outcomes are
determined through divergent thinking when it is applied for
open ended problems which facilitate creativity. On the other
hand, convergent thinking is supremely apt for situations
characterized by the possibility of a single best correct answer
which can be derived at by valuation of accessible
accumulated information. Since, the focal point of divergent
thinking is on ideas generation rather than process; any
solution arrived at via divergent thinking invariably requires
convergent thinking to transform the idea into a practicable
one.
6. In the classroom Strategies for Divergent Thinking
As educators, we need to push management students to
engage in divergent thinking so that their knowledge can be
taken to the next level. The researchers have enumerated a
set of 10 strategies that can be conveniently conducted in the
class room environment without compromising on syllabus
curriculum.
Strategy 1 - Reverse the Question / Answer Concept
As educators we should strive towards adopting problem
based learning approach‟. This approach is based on a
simple premise: rather than posing a question for which a
correct answer is readily available, ask students to craft /
construct the problem. Students create their problem by initially
focussing on their own wishes and goals which may contain
actual life outcomes. Questions such as “How to increase
sales without a substantial increase in the expenditure
budget?” or “How can the entire population be fed in a
sustainable manner?” Such questions prompt students to think
in a divergent way.
In other words, we are encouraging the students to „Start
from the end‟. Rather than soliciting solutions from students by
Volume-03, Issue-10, October-2018 RESEARCH REVIEW International Journal of Multidisciplinary
© RRIJM 2015, All Rights Reserved 1008 | Page
using brainstorm techniques, we are encouraging them to
formulate a problem. The problem can be framed either by
giving reference to a subject, location, demographic, or
anything deemed fit, provided that a lucid, crisp and purposeful
problem is framed towards the end.
Few psychometricians hold a very negative view of tests
used to assess divergent thinking capability as they believe
that such tests merely tap the predictable expressions of
intelligence. While there are some who view divergent thinking
as an unreliable, dry and unexciting characteristic of the
intellect. This criticism reminds us the criticism attached at the
Intelligence Quotient (IQ) which was at the outset held in high
regard (Cox, 1926), then condemned and ultimately
acknowledged as a flawed but valuable measure (Jensen
1979). Perhaps, divergent thinking tests are also surfacing
along a comparable dialectical trail.
Strategy 2 - Let us celebrate the Differences
A classroom should resonate with vibrancy wherein
differences of any kind, be it gender, taste, are celebrated. This
would help in creating an environment in which judgment of
each other is tardy, controlled and more considerate. Student‟s
ability to defer judgement opens the learning environment to
other thoughts and influences. Deferring judgment doesn‟t
imply having no judgement; it simply implies „hold your horses
for a while‟. Students freely express their thoughts and
opinions when they have no fear of being immediately judged
by their taste. Thus, they become less fearful of expressing or
sharing our divergent thoughts and ideas. In specific terms, we
can say that, in the divergent thinking phase, avoid judging
ideas as either good or bad.
Strategy 3 - Inquiry based feedback
A value based feedback should be replaced by an inquiry
based feedback. Such an inquiry based feedback tied with
deep observation motivates students to adopt a more in
depth and open ended approach for appraising students‟
work. Rather, than coming straight way to expressing their
likes and dislikes, students should be first encouraged to spare
few minutes in silently observing things around them and then
coming forth with queries prefixed by phrases such as, “why”
and “I observed that...” and “how it works...”.
Strategy 4 - Encourage Play and Handle Failure
Land & Jarman (1992) conducted a study on 1,600
children aged between 4 5 years to measure their progress.
98% of the 1,600 participants who took the test lied at the
„genius level‟. The implausible findings motivated them to
conduct a longitudinal study on these subjects. The same
subjects were again given the same test after a time gap of 5
years. The scores of these subjects saw a reduction of 68% as
it stood at 30%. After another 5 years the same test was re-
conducted on the same set of participants, who were now in
high school and now the scores had drastically dropped to
mere 12%. Generally, we as well as students are likely to fall
back upon our efforts and we are afraid of committing
mistakes. This can be corrected when failure doesn‟t attract
penalty; rather it is framed by iteration and reflection. Play and
experimentation can become a dominant feature of class room
environment when the students are not afraid of making an
error in their attempts. A failure is presented as a situation
wherein students get time to introspect and draft new
strategies for „scaling up‟ their projects or ideas.
Divergent thinking flourishes when people play. This
interesting link between divergent thinking and playfulness has
been explained by researchers as “physical, social and
cognitive spontaneity; manifest joy and sense of humour”
(Spenser, 2018, http://www.spencerauthor.com/divergent-
thinking/). Given the tight curriculum maps and narrow time
lines, encouraging play activities presents a challenge to
educators. However, a success in discovering means to
incorporate joy, play and humour into the curriculum opens
avenues for students to think divergently.
Divergent thinking strategies go a long way in nurturing
creativity in the learning environment. They help in
acknowledging, appreciating and celebrating differences in
varied fields of our student‟s lives. A plethora of benefits can
be reaped from these creative possibilities when our budding
students are given the freedom to be who they actually are.
Strategy 5 - Seek Wild Ideas - Brainstorming
Separating divergent thinking from convergent thinking
helps in the creation of new ideas; it helps in generating lots
and lots of opinions without any analysis. Brainstorming
techniques help in the generation of wild ideas as it rests on
the principle of free wheeling. Such wild ideas may not work
directly; however moving away from the line of conventional
thinking helps in embarking on an „extra ordinary idea‟; an
idea which is „out of the box.‟
Strategy 6 - Alternate Uses Task
Divergent thinking represents a style of thinking which
permits generations of varied fresh ideas, in a framework
where many correct solutions are possible. In this line, we
have Alternate Uses Task (AUT) pioneered by Guilford, a
renowned American Psychologist, in 1967. Guilford uses AUT
to gauge the productivity of divergent thinking. In this exercise,
participants are given an object, like a scale and their task is to
produce / list out as many possible uses of that particular
object.
Strategy 7 - Play Devil’s Advocate
„Devil‟s advocate‟, a well known term, implies to a
situation when someone debates with you only for the sake of
raising an argument, irrespective of whether one‟s believes or
does not believe in the position he / she is arguing. It is a very
frustrating moment when someone plays devil‟s advocate for
us. However, there is a brighter perspective attached to it.
When someone plays devil‟s advocate, the person inspires you
to engage in divergent thinking by questioning reasoning and
assumptions.
In the class room setting, faculty may promote students to
play devil‟s advocate to attain two objectives. At the outset,
students‟ thinking is challenged in their thinking by their peers.
Moreover, the student playing devil‟s advocate also has to
challenge his own thoughts to formulate a dissimilar
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© RRIJM 2015, All Rights Reserved 1009 | Page
perspective than what was there in his mind before stepping
into the discussion. A faculty has to execute a small activity
repeatedly to support students attain familiarity with the role of
devil‟s advocate. In this activity, students are placed in pairs
and then they are provided with two cards having contrasting
arguments or opinions. Randomly students select one of the
cards, ponder upon their argument and take on the discussion.
The underneath principle is that students need to solemnly
argue their side, whether they agree or not.
Strategy 8 - Establish a Tolerant Environment
For divergent thinking to flourish, we need to create an
environment which allows failure, approves varied expression
and encourages risk. As teachers, we should facilitate and
support individual expression to encourage divergent thinking
among the students.
The above outlined strategies will make a definite
contribution towards making the class room environment
more innovative and creative. These strategies will also help
significantly in familiarizing students will problem solving
topics, like, discovering more than one workable solution,
altering view-points and valuing diversity in thinking.
Strategy 9 - Embrace Creative Constraint
Divergent thinking flourishes in when we are looked with
impediments; this being the central idea of creative constraint.
When an individual faces paucity of resources, he / she is
stimulated to unearth unusual means to use the existing
resources available to him / her.
Creative constraint can be incorporated in class room
environment in a few dissimilar ways by educators. One of the
ways is to restrict the time by rapid prototyping. Rapid
prototyping involves a speedy, time bound challenge, wherein
one has to move through iterations swiftly. Or it might be a
timed free write, where students pen down their words without
any formal planning beforehand. Through this activity, students
develop the ability to take risk in their creativity endeavours.
Additionally students also develop creative fluency which helps
them to plan, execute and rework a creative work speedily and
with a sense of control as well as agency. Educator may also
put constraint on material or options provided. These
constraints do not restrict creativity rather they stimulate
divergent thinking among students. Quite often, we come
across the term „think inside the box‟, but divergent thinking
lays stress on „think differently about the box.‟
Strategy 10 - Collaboration
Collaboration with faculty and students belonging to
different streams or disciplines helps to broaden our horizons.
The discourse formed between you and your collaborator helps
in diversifying your perspective as both benefit from new-
fangled insights for present and future endeavours. We are
more prone to involve in divergent thinking when we are faced
with unusual viewpoints. Collaboration unearths many
prospects to discover unconventional approaches and
explanations to our problem or issue at hand. Also, these
enriching collaborative experiences may impel the educators to
develop a link with other schools of thoughts in their future
research.
Here, we would like to make a mention of several
divergent thinking tests which are readily accessible (Guilford,
1968; Meeker, 1982; Torrance, 1974; Wallach & Kogan, 1965).
Each of the test shows striking difference from tests
administered to measure conventional intelligence. The
conventional intelligence test focuses on the single
conventional or right answer. For instance in an IQ test, an
individual may be asked to tell the number of legs a dog has or
to report the number of major left bank tributaries of River
Ganges. Score on this kind of test apparently reveals
convergent thinking and is viewed to project proficiency in
academic and other interrelated areas (Wallach & Wing, 1969).
In sharp contrast to these IQ and other academic achievement
tests, divergent thinking tests present open ended questions
to participants, like, „List down all the things which in your
opinion are flexible‟. Such open ended questions are
deliberately presented to invite an array of diversified ideas.
Figure 1 - Strategies to Usher Divergent Thinking in the Class -
Room
7. Research Methodology
Appropriate study and research work on Google scholar
were selected by using relevant keywords. In addition, quality
databases were searched for conducting the present
exploratory work. Scholarly work of renowned researchers has
been studied to assemble all the pertinent aspects related to
the construct of „divergent thinking‟. Researchers have taken
care to include latest study in the domain of divergent thinking;
with a view to identify and present new dimensions in the
selected construct. After presenting the literature review, the
researchers have deliberated upon various strategies through
which divergent thinking can be encouraged by the teachers in
the classroom. We propose that educational institutes can play
a dominant role towards inculcating divergent thinking among
the management students and thus, preparing them for a
better role in the years to come. The specific objectives of our
study are:
Volume-03, Issue-10, October-2018 RESEARCH REVIEW International Journal of Multidisciplinary
© RRIJM 2015, All Rights Reserved 1010 | Page
Identify the need to inculcate divergent thinking in
educational institutes
Identify the benefits of divergent thinking.
Identify the strategies encouraging divergent thinking
in classroom environment.
8. Conclusion and Implications
Divergent thinking helps us to think about various means
which initiate creativity and innovations. Divergent thinking is
more than realizing totally new possibilities; it's reasoning
without the any structure or boundary or limitation. It focuses
on generating varied ideas about a particular subject or topic in
less time. It involves breaking a topic down into sub parts with
a view to deeply examine the several dimensions of the topic.
It typically takes place in an environment market with
spontaneity; wherein ideas originate in a casual, disarranged
fashion. Unanticipated associations are often sketched through
divergent thinking. It is thus, an integral process in creativity
which predicts creative achievement (Jauk, Benedek,
Neubauer, 2014; Plucker, 1999). Absence or lack off divergent
thinking among employees acts as an impediment to individual
creativity in organizations.
Encouraging divergent thinking among the management
students has the potential to offer multiple benefits. The need
to develop a teaching pedagogy stimulating divergent thinking
among the students has become all the more prominent as
more and more organizations are searching for employees with
this capability. Its importance has increased all the more in the
present times as organizations value skills over knowledge.
Divergent thinkers have a propensity to unearth fresh
opportunities, search for new fangled explanations or
solutions, are more customer - oriented, easier to train and
possess a wider viewpoint.
Research has revealed that students who are encouraged
at an early stage to think divergently tend to be more
imaginative, both instantly and later on in life. A study
conducted in Cornell University in 2012 identifies that divergent
thinking brings improvement in language proficiency and
performance. Divergent thinking stimulates positive activating
moods (Baas, De Dreu & Nijstad, 2008; Davis, 2009). .
Scientists also report a positive relationship between divergent
thinking and entrepreneurial potential
(https://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/divergent-
thinking/)
J. P. Guilford (1950, 1968) established a strong
association between divergent production and creative
potential. Divergent thinking has the potential to empower the
students to come up with creative ideas or solutions and
augment their problem solving skills. It will encourage
students to apply new concepts in thinking and while finding a
solution to the given problem, to think in a different manner by
using imagination, intuition and common sense. Moreover,
students will learn to appreciate other‟s perspective and
learning while observing others will become a fruitful as well as
an enjoyable experience. Management teaching strategies that
hone divergent thinking skills not only makes the classroom
environment vibrant but also helps the students in developing
an understanding and appreciating differences in various
approaches directed towards solving a problem. The
deliberations in the study will offer guidance to the
management institutes towards developing a teaching
pedagogy which encourages divergent thinking among the
students; thus preparing them to serve as the backbone of
innovation in our economy. Without divergent thinking, we will
not be in a position to produce new ideas that have the
potential to revolutionize our lives.
Towards the end, the researchers would like to state that
in order to think of ways to change the box; we need to change
our belief system. We need to appreciate that whatever view of
the world is upheld by us, it is partially if not completely on
account of some type of societal or cultural indoctrination.
Irrespective of how much knowledge is possessed by us, room
for ignorance will always be there. Struggle to solve life‟s
problems is never ending and in this endless journey of
learning, a lot needs to be discovered and explored. So always
stay curious and modest.
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