J. Solana-Gutierrez, M.D. Bejarano-Carrión, S. Merino-De-Miguel

Technical University of Madrid (UPM) (SPAIN)
The semantic root of “engineer” come from the Latin “ingenium” term: “ability”, “mental power”, “genius”, or “clever device”. Nowadays, an engineer is an expertise in creating useful things combining intelligence, skill and technical knowledge. Thus, if engineering aim is the creation of useful objects, creativity must be a skill to be encouraged in engineering degrees.

Since 1999, when Bologna Declaration was adopted, European High Education priority has been focused on the student's learning results and encouraging transversal skills, such as team work, creativity, and communication. According to this new orientation, the Technological University of Madrid (UPM) included eight transversal skills in all its engineering degrees. Creativity is one out of transversal skills included in the UPM Forestry Engineering Degree to be developed in the Statistics signature. As a consequence, a creativity learning block was added to the statistics contents.
The experience was conducted during the last six weeks, from December to January.

The learning block was compound of five phases:
1) a starting creativity test,
2) two formation sessions,
3) a period to analyze and solve the targeted problem,
4) a week for writing a technical report, and
5) a final creativity test.

The main task to be done by student’s team was to solve a complex and challenging statistical problem: a prediction of the final ranking of Spanish football league. This problem is highly appealing for most students and presents a variety of ways of solving, which is quite appropriate to be used for triggering student creativity.

To evaluate creativity learning process, each team written report was marked with seven descriptors, three of them related to creativity items (i.e., “use of creativity expansion technics”, “statistical creativity”, and ”creativity and innovation in editing”) and the others linked to statistics contents (i.e., “scientific congruency”, “appropriated use of statistical methods”, “goodness of discussion”, and “conclusions”). Additionally, each student performed again a final creativity test that was compared to the starting test. These data were analyzed by descriptive methods, principal component analysis (PCA) and linear models to find significant factors and covariates.

As a result, student’s overall marks showed a negatively dependency on the “creativity and innovation in editing” and the “statistical creativity”, even more the “use of creativity expansion technics” was not significant to explain the examination marks. In addition, PCA showed that 75% of variation was explained by the two principal axes. The first axe loadings presented all positive values, however the second axe presented positive loadings for the “use of creativity expansion technics”, the “statistical creativity”, the “statistical discussion”, and the “conclusions”, but negative weights for the remaining descriptors.

In summary, and according to our experience, the creativity triggering technics do not produce an improvement in the final examination marks in “Statistics” subjects. Nevertheless, they seem to be correlated with good discussions and conclusions. These results may support to delivery two separated students’ evaluation marks, one for assessing the creativity as transversal skill and other for evaluating specifics contents in “statistics”.