In this journal entry by Chang Zhu and Li-Fang Zhang, the styles of thinking and ideas of creativity by students in universities are researched for understanding. The aim of this research is to find and comprehend the relationship between a student’s view on creativity and their thinking style. The thinking styles were determined and defined through the “Thinking Stiles Inventory-Revised II” system of measurement proposed by Sternberg’s theory of mental self-government. To retrieve information and details on student’s views on creativity, the Conceptions of Creativity Scales is used. The major contribution of this entire research is the establishment of an understanding of a connection between the two variables for educators to gain insight from to promote the development of creativity in upcoming younger generations.
In the introduction of this research, it is stated that “Creativity is central to today’s economy and societal development.” The reason this is so is because there are a variety of advancements that could be made in a myriad of fields through creativity, such as but not limited to, the production of new products, new services, new procedures and much more. Creativity is important for people at any level, whether individual or societal. For example, creativity can result in innovations in dealing with multiple aspects of daily life, problem solving abstractly and more. At the societal level, creativity has its benefits in advancing scientific findings and research, the creation of new inventions, the reformation of social aspects of groups and more. This research openly states that creative thinking can be sharpened if students are provided with the opportunity to be engaged in it. Currently, only elite schools and limited regions really have such access to the constant creativity engagement to have a large impact on creative thinking.
The connection between creativity and thinking styles is then made in the introduction of this research through the backing of other previous research. There is a slight debate in this field of educational psychology on the importance of intellect styles of thinking in the existence of creativity. It has been proposed in multiple research papers that there are some thinking styles that are more generative in terms of creativity, while at the same time, there are certain styles that are more bound toward conformation with norms. It is indicated by previous research, however, that it is fundamentally important to understand how creativity is started in the mind and how thinking styles can conceive creativity.
According to this research, thinking styles are defined as people’s preferred ways to using cognition and abilities that they have toward aspects of life. There are 13 styles of thinking, based on the Sternberg’s theory of mental self-government. These styles are further re-conceptualized into three categories: types one through three. In type one, the thinking styles are usually more capable of generating creativity. They typically have higher levels of complexity in cognition, along with multiple other aspects that are denoted. Type two styles tend to favor more norm-bounded thinking. They typically show lower levels of the necessary components for the production of creativity. In type three styles, the thinking styles are shaped by the stylistic demands of whichever task is given to them.
According to the research, the production of work has a few criteria to be considered creativity: “relatively novel, high in quality, and appropriate to the task at hand.” Usually, when studying creativity, researchers tend to elaborate on the characteristics of creative individuals. In the Investment Theory of Creativity by Sternberg, creativity has six sources that require confluence: “intelligence, knowledge, style of thinking, personality, motivation and learning environmental contexts.” On a deeper note, intelligence is regarded most commonly as the factor to determine the individual’s ability to be creative. There are three specific qualities of intellect that are highlighted in the ability to be creative: synthetic, analytic and practical intellectual abilities. It is also noted that a close perspective of knowledge in a certain field will undoubtedly help a person’s creativity in that field due to the extensive levels of experience and expertise in that field. Another important factor is motivation, since it is important to have intrinsic, task-focused motivation to completely focus efforts in being creative. On top of the internal aspects of creativity, the environment is also noted to have a major impact on the capacity to be creative.
This research continues by giving background information on the connection of thinking styles and conceptions of creativity. There is an argument in this field of research that states that there is an adaptive innovative theory, in which adaptors prefer to “do things better” and in which innovators prefer to “do things differently.” This theory creates a direct link between an individuals’ creativity orientation and their cognitive preferences. It should be known, however, that providing the connection between creativity and thinking styles has been a challenge in research, and that some measurements cannot truly evaluate and assess creative achievement. This particular research being reviewed, however, builds upon all of these previous researched topics and uses data from several fields of study to help create evidence that may or may not support the connection between the two elements.
This research uses three questions and hypotheses. The first of this set introduces the issue of reliability and validity in assessments used in this study, namely the Conceptions of Creativity Scales and the TSI-R2. The next question in the set seeks out the answer as to whether or not there exists a group difference between genders, fields of study, and educational institutions. The last of this set is the most fundamentally important in this research: “How are thinking styles related to conceptions of creativity?”
These questions seem to be too broad if the hopes for the research are to narrow down whether or not there is a connection between too elements. It is clearly stated that there is not enough evidence in this field to determine if there is truly a connection between thinking and creativity, so it not logical to stay broad and be at risk of obtaining no new information. There should be a more focused scope on details that would pertain to this research, in order to build up to the question at hand. Also, it is too early in this field of research to be pointing out specifics on factors such as gender and such, if there are no relations proven thus far. Sometimes, however, the true connections could be found in certain factors such as gender differences if not at all in the broadest senses.
In the methods of this research, there are a large amount of participants being used'”enough to do statistical analysis of the results and provide data that may reject or leave the null hypothesis of this research. In the instruments involved, the Thinking Styles Inventory Revised II and the Conceptions of Creativity Scales are used in order to determine the thinking styles and perceptions of creativity in the subject, respectively. These instruments were first tested on small groups to test for their efficiency and understandability.
The methods and instruments of this research are both very effective and are exceptional in review. The number of subjects is large enough to get useable data from in order to determine some statistical significance of observations and evidences that arise as a result of this research. The instruments are heavily reliant on the two tests provided, which could be considered problematic and detrimental in some aspects to the entire research. The fact that these tests were given a test-run prior to this research balances and counteracts this fact, however.
In the data analysis and results of this section, there are some finds that are done effectively. In the data analysis, the reliability and validity of the aforementioned tests are examined, and the independent variables were examined to see if there is any interaction that alters the results. As for the results section of this research, they are interpreted to understand the whether the data respond to the questions and hypotheses of the research.
In review of the data analysis and results, overall, they seem to be accurately working toward finding evidence for the topics at hand. The data analysis is done effectively and uses all of the data efficiently to provide an answer to the first question in the set mentioned above. The results are comprehensive and clearly state the reliability and validity of the instruments used in this research.
Overall, this research is limited in many aspects. This study is extremely broad, and with the lack of previous conclusive data to precede it, it becomes clearly limited in the amount of supporting empirical data. Another limiting factor includes the fact that the CCS test is being used for the first time in this research, though the data analysis and results confirm that it is reliable and valid. A major shortcoming is the group of subjects tested: only Chinese students were tested, which makes this data only applicable to the sample studied. The data is already broad, but it cannot be generalized to any other groups. This is problematic, and cripples much of the work done. Though this is true, the fact that the methods are so concise will allow for replications to be made so that he data can be generalized in the future. This research has its positive and negative aspects, but overall, it is not enough to prove enough about the hypotheses and questions concerning whether or not there is a relationship between the perception and conception of creativity and thinking styles in university students.
Source: Zhu, C, & Zhang, L. F. (2011). Thinking styles and conceptions of creativity among university students. Educational Psychology, 31(3), Retrieved from http://pdfserve.informaworld.com/898220__934969621.pdf doi: 361-375