Drexel University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2022 Proceedings
Publication year: 2022
Pages: 195-201
ISBN: 978-84-09-45476-1
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2022.0081
Conference name: 15th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 7-9 November, 2022
Location: Seville, Spain
Developing competence with creativity is critical to graduate students’ training but often unaddressed in graduate education in a formal way. Creativity is an important 21st Century skill, and so there is a need to share the experiences of designing courses and training programs in creativity to support others’ future endeavors. An instructional team consisting of a design expert, two educators, a social scientist, and a scientist/humanist used research-based best practices from literature on design thinking, creative thinking, and teaching to train approximately 30 graduate students over a four-year period. The team designed, taught, and iterated two courses: one surveying team-based creativity principles and practices and the other focusing on enhancing the creativity of an individual research project.

The courses’ goals were to:
(1) provide students with a deeper understanding of what creativity in research is;
(2) equip students with strategies and tools to develop their own creative processes;
(3) provide students with firsthand experience in understanding how diverse disciplines approach creative research—or research in general, and give students opportunities to draw from disparate disciplines to find creative applications to their own research agenda;
(4) help students understand the challenges of working in interdisciplinary teams and deploy tools to address such challenges.

The team discusses the findings, based on focus groups, planning documentation, project reports, and student- and instructor-generated artifacts, that were used to determine the courses’ successes and challenges. Methods used to arrive at the insights in this paper include formal document analysis, participant reflective writing, and qualitative coding of existing research and production artifacts. Explicitly discussing and teaching multiple ways to understand creativity along with diverse creative practices, led to students who were better able to gauge their own creative ability and an understanding of how to leverage that to greater effect by applying the skills taught in the courses. Students reported that their nuanced understanding of creativity and their own creative processes gained from the courses allowed them to understand how to continue to improve their creative output. The case study aligns with emerging Higher Education trends with respect to graduate experience due to the fact that students found the explicit teaching of creativity and creative practices to be beneficial, while professors require institutional support that addresses interdisciplinary enrollment, and a reward system for collaborative teaching. The paper aims to promote and support future endeavors to teach interdisciplinary creative research methods to graduate students.

Interdisciplinary Design thinking, Creative Teams, Graduate Education, STEM Education, Creative Research.