In this section:
Creativity in the Sciences
Wednesday 29 April, 2009
Hugh Fraser Seminar Room, Wolfson Medical Building, University of Glasgow
Less than 10% of a student’s true creative potential is seen as being fully utilised. To increase the creative problem solving skills of science students attending university, the Centre for Bioscience has organised a day around the theme of creativity in the sciences in collaboration with STEM Subject Centres. Through interactive workshop sessions and swapshop presentations to share examples of good practice, you will learn more about the creative process, how to facilitating creativity through your teaching, and understand the importance of creativity as an employability trait for your students.
Maureen Douglass, Sheffield Hallam University, has written a poem as well as reflections on the event.
||Registration; Tea and Coffee
||Welcome and Introduction to the day
||Creativity in Interdisciplinary Environments
Peter Childs, Chair and Leader in Engineering Design, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Imperial College London
Peter provided a focus on what creativity is, how our personal and physical environment can be adjusted to enhance our creativity and how creative approaches can be adapted across disciplinary boundaries.
There are many definitions of creativity and a selection of these will be explored, within the context of the interaction between a person’s thoughts and society and culture. Creativity enriches our culture, can improve the quality of our lives and provides the opportunity for the solution of societal problems and its development. Creativity can provide purpose and a form of expression and to some makes 'our spirits sing'.
We are familiar with the years of toil that in the case of some individuals can lead to a burst of new knowledge that sets a domain that others then occupy for a while. The study of creativity reveals patterns to this type of creative burst. It is not necessarily that there is a certain kind of person who is pre-destined to be creative although factors such as access to a domain, a culture, people who can assess and understand an idea, recognise its contribution and then take it forward, all help.
We are subject to the tension of our conservative and expansive tendencies. Consideration will be given to the complex poles of traits that are characteristic of creative individuals. The presentation will introduce the importance of cultivation and environment, spatial and social, physiological and psychological that are required to be supportive and rewarding of creative ideas. Consideration will also be given to the tensions between specialist expertise and generalised knowledge and interdisciplinarity and the tendency for favouring specialised knowledge within a domain.
||Enquiry and Creativity: Tools of the Trade
Carol Wakeford, Senior Teaching Fellow, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester
Enquiry is fundamental to the scientific method and scientific research; formulating questions based on observations of the natural world, and designing and testing hypotheses by research and experiment to provide explanations of these observations. Enquiry-based learning (EBL) is a pedagogy that aims to integrate the skills associated with enquiry into the general curriculum by using, for example, small group (tutorial) problem-solving activities, case-studies in problem-based learning, and individual or group project work develop to critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. However, much of the science teaching in universities still relies on the traditional didactic lecture to impart knowledge. The focus is on the development of logical thinking, to enable the analysis and interpretation of data for example, rather than a more creative approach that might facilitate the generation of novel ideas for exploration. This workshop is based on the premise that lateral thinking and creativity are fundamental to enquiry, and it will explore some of the strategies and tools used to develop a more creative output in student project work.
||A Question of Creativity!
Kevin Byron, Research Skills Developer, Student Support and Development Service, University of Leicester
In his interactive session, Kevin explored the nature of questioning in the context of scientific creativity and demonstrate some tools that can help frame questions in ways that facilitate a more creative approach to doing science. Asking questions and seeking answers to these questions is at the heart of scientific research. Often the answers arise in the form of creative insights that lead to new knowledge, understanding and invention in science. The timing of such insights however is unpredictable and they may arrive weeks, months or even years after the original question had been posed. Though still a subject of controversy in the psychological sciences, insights are generally believed to arise after a period of ‘incubation’ during which time the question being addressed is being processed unconsciously. In spite of the unpredictability of the moment of insight, the nature of the question that initiates the incubation process can have some influence on the time it takes to find an answer. The way in which a question is framed can also either inhibit or activate a creative approach to solving problems or to gaining a better understanding of scientific concepts. This interactive session will explore the nature of questioning in the context of scientific creativity and demonstrate some tools that can help frame questions in ways that facilitate a more creative approach to doing science.
Kevin has shared a handout on Creative Problem Solving which he mentioned in his talk.
||Promotion of Creativity: a website-based approach
David J Adams, Centre for Bioscience Director and Department of Biological Sciences, University of Leeds
At the interactive Creativity in the Biosciences website students are introduced by leading researchers to cutting edge developments in the biosciences. They are then asked to consider problems and challenges associated with these developments e.g. how to commercially exploit the results of research. To help them with this, students interact with a wide range of techniques designed to promote creativity in individuals. The website allows students to work in geographical isolation but novel software enables and encourages regular communication between group members by facilitating easy exchange and effective presentation of ideas.
Students then participate in structured group sessions that ensure full and thorough consideration of ideas by group members. The website encourages all members of the group to engage in creative approaches to problem-solving. The overall approach has great potential in a wide range of settings and disciplines both in HE and industry. The website can also support and encourage interdisciplinary cross-talk and collaboration as colleagues from different backgrounds work together on idea generation and exploitation. The audience will be made fully aware of the interactive nature of the website and will be asked to participate in exercises designed to promote creativity in individuals and groups. The results of preliminary research studies, designed to optimise use of this website based approach, will be described.
||Swapshops - examples of good practice from across the STEM subject groups illustrating effective ways to foster creativity.
Roger has graciously shared a more formal version of the talk 'Student creativity and the research-teaching link agenda' for further reading.
||Reflections of the day
Visit the Centre's web pages on Creativity
A Creativity Resource List was developed for the event
View reports from related events:
North-West Regional Lecturers Forum, Wednesday 25th June 2008, University of Manchester
Laboratory work in the Biosciences Developing the next generation of research scientists, an invitation-only workshop, Leeds, 7th and 8th April 2008