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How to Advance Creativity in a Learning Environment

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  • 0:12 What is Creativity?
  • 1:09 Barriers to Thinking…
  • 3:19 Creative Problem-Solving
  • 5:58 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Wind Goodfriend
Students in a classroom can attempt to solve problems in a wide variety of creative ways. This lesson defines creativity and then covers barriers to thinking creatively, including response sets and functional fixedness. Finally, the lesson discusses different types of creative problem solving, including brainstorming and working backward.

What is Creativity?

Imagine you're a teacher in an elementary school, and you want to involve your students in raising money to help them get new books and supplies. You ask the students for their own ideas on fun, creative fundraisers they might do in the community. Maybe they suggest selling toys they don't use anymore, or having a puppy parade down Main Street, where people buy concessions. In order for the students to come up with solutions, they must think creatively. What exactly is creativity, and how might it work in a classroom environment?

The definition of creativity is the ability to come up with new, original, unique solutions to problems or ideas. In another lesson, you can learn about how creativity is based in an area of psychology called cognitive psychology, and you can learn about how creativity is related to types of intelligence. This lesson focuses on creativity in a classroom environment, and what factors might hurt or help the creative process.

Barriers to Thinking Creatively

We'd all like to be able to think creatively, but sometimes it's a challenge. What are some barriers that stop the creative process?

Using pencils as mini fence-posts requires overcoming functional fixedness
Overcoming Functional Fixedness

The first variable that's been identified in educational psychology is called a response set. A response set is the tendency for people to approach problems in a rigid, habitual manner or persistent pattern. If you always respond to a problem the same way, you're not going to be very creative. For example, I work as a university professor. Whenever there's a club on campus that wants to do a fundraiser, it always sell T-shirts. I have so many T-shirts; I will never buy another one! In order to make more money, the clubs should come up with a new, creative way to earn money, and they would probably be more successful. If they always approach fundraising with the same idea, they are working from a response set that is not going to be very successful. If a campus club tried something like a puppy parade through the middle of campus, they might raise a lot more money, because they had gone outside of their old response set.

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