Theories of critical and creative thinking

You might observe someone, who you thought was kind, behaving cruelly toward someone without any reason that you can see.

That might change your opinion of the person's character. Creative thinking also should be sensitive to external events. We now turn to an examination of evidence supporting the hypothesis that each of these facets of ordinary thinking is also seen in creative thinking. In each of these areas, much of the evidence will be drawn from case studies. Critical thinking and creative thinking have different conceptualizations.

For this reason, it is possible to have diverse perspectives on the relationship between critical thinking and creativity. A sequence or stage model of creativity would involve the idea that critical thinking is used in specific stages of the creative process, while it would, in fact, inhibit creativity in other stages. It is generally agreed that the first phases of the creative process involve divergent thinking and should not involve critical thinking. This is the case, for example in brain-storming techniques.

In the first stage, brainstorming session participants are only asked to generate ideas, irrespective of their quality and without being critical about them. Each of the hats determines what type of mental process the person is allowed to carry on at that specific time. A white hat, for example, involves the collection of facts and information, a red hat deals with the feelings and emotions associated with the problem, a black hat represents critical judgment, a yellow hat represents positive judgment, a green hat stands for new ideas, and a blue hat represents the mode of seeing the big picture.

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There is however no conclusive evidence on the claim that this is the way the mind works, and it is not clear if in a creative process a clear separation between divergent and convergent modes of thinking is strictly necessary. First, providing a creative solution might involve critical thinking from an early stage.

If critical thinking is understood as the capacity to produce self-regulatory judgment that results in interpretation of a phenomenon, then critical thinking is crucial for problem identification. As Mark Runco indicates in the conclusion to the book Problem Finding, Problem Solving and Creativity, problem finding skills constitute an important aspect of creativity. Problem identification derives from critical thinking, and thus creativity would be enhanced by it from the beginning.

Even further, it may also be the case that critical thinking fosters the creative process during phases of generating ideas. Creativity involves the combination of complex, sometimes opposed cognitive, personality, and social characteristics, and it seems that the creative process is nurtured by movement between these opposite extremes.

If this were the case, critical and convergent thinking might play a role in each of the phases of the creative process, and not just the final stages.


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Another possible interpretation of the relationship between creative and critical thinking relates to intelligence. In most cases tests of intelligence involve convergent thinking skills. Items on tests of intelligence frequently have only one correct answer. It is thus necessary to critically evaluate the options provided.

There seems to be evidence that the relationship between creativity and intelligence involves some sort of threshold, below which no creative performance is possible. Individuals above the threshold might or might not be creative.

Below the threshold individuals lack basic information processing skills and are relatively uncreative. In this view, critical thinking will relate to creativity, but only above a certain threshold. That is to say, individuals without some threshold level of critical thinking will not be able to be creative. There is another possible interpretation of the relationship between critical thinking and creativity. More and more, creativity research is acknowledging persuasion as an important component of the creative process. This type of interpretation of creativity is more prominent in research related to innovation and economic perspectives on creativity.

According to this approach, critical thinking is crucial in order to provide adequate arguments that make the idea attractive. This relates very much to the critical thinking movement, which calls for certain standards of thinking involving clarity, credibility, accuracy, precision, relevance, depth, breadth, and significance. It is likely that creative individuals with good persuasive abilities employ some of these elements when making an idea appealing to others.

Yet another possible relationship between creativity and critical thinking can be taken from the system theory perspective. In this theory, Mihaly Cziksentmihalyi proposes that creativity can only be understood in terms of the interrelationship among three elements: the individual, the domain and the field. Thousand of domains compound the culture. The field refers to all the individuals who act as gate-keepers to the domain.

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Critical & Creative Thinking in Research

They evaluate whether a product is or is not creative. The actor refers to the individuals who pursue the creative action.

7 Reasons Why Critical Thinking is Important

In this theory, critical thinking will also play a role not only in the individual who carries out the creative action, but in the validation of what constitutes creativity and what not. In fields where the gatekeepers have limited critical thinking capacity, the acceptance of innovative ideas might be easier than in those where critical thinking is prominent. These aspects relate to the distinction between evaluation and valuation. Evaluation will mainly look at what is wrong with the options, while valuation will focus on the positive sides of the idea.

These two evaluation and valuation are important in assessing whether a product can be regarded as creative or not. It is likely that valuation plays a major role in the determination of the originality of a product, while evaluation will be more important in determining its adequacy.

Creativity and critical thinking are usually seen as cross-curricular competencies included explicitly in the syllabus or in the national curriculum. The promotion of both creativity and critical thinking has been made a political priority in many countries. However, it is less clear if creativity and critical thinking are actually being encouraged in education. It seems reasonable to think that convergent thinking has an advantage over divergent thinking in educational settings. Group work might require conformity and convergence among individuals.

The form of education still most prominent usually involves a teacher giving a talk in front of the students and asking questions that have only one adequate answer. In addition, convergent skill tasks are also easier to grade in a traditional manner, since they involve one correct answer. Within this traditional pedagogy, however, critical thinking has had a certain amount of support, probably more than creativity.

From a philosophical tradition, the so-called Socratic system involves a series of questions and answers between the teacher and the student. Through the creation of a dialectic process between the teacher and the student, the latter can discover new knowledge as he or she is guided critically through his or her assumptions and structures of thought. In this way, students can learn to be critical thinkers. However, some people maintain that increasing critical skills will be associated with a constraint in providing original ideas. As has been explained above, however, this is not necessarily the case.

It is likely that critical and creative thinking are not independent, but it also seems likely that there is some interaction between the two, since the creative process most probably involves some aspects of critical thinking. John Baer, in The Creative Self , The Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking are actually two very different sets of tests with items coming from two different domains, verbal and figural. Both measure divergent thinking, and both are generally interpreted as domain-general measures of divergent-thinking skill and by extension of creativity , but the two versions of the test employ different domains in their test exercises.

Both versions of the test have been around for a half century, although they have undergone many modifications during that period, especially modifications to the scoring rules. In fact, Torrance discovered that the two tests were almost completely orthogonal, correlating at the level of 0. Imagine a company in the business of producing IQ tests that sold two different IQ tests that were considered interchangeable for research in the area of intelligence. If, according to the company itself, the two IQ tests correlated at just 0.

Ann-Louise de Boer, Theo J. Students must be taught flexible thinking, creative problem-solving and teamwork skills so they can cope successfully with a constantly changing environment. Lumsdaine and Binks postulate that if C- and D-quadrant skills had been integrated into programmes from the onset, curriculum direction would have been far more innovative. Often Engineering Faculty members who are involved in and responsible for curriculum restructuring meet considerable resistance to change from their peers.

Getting faculty members to buy-in and actually adopt the necessary broad-based changes in engineering education that will embrace C- and D-quadrant thinking is difficult.

Chapter 7: Critical Thinking and Evaluating Information | EDUC Effective Learning Strategies

On the other hand, resistance to change also comes from the students themselves. Their thinking preference is for A- and B-quadrant thinking and they consider a new approach to facilitate learning as a threat. It supports the collaborative process through allowing personal growth, improving creativity and cultivating relationships. When mental models are understood and shared with one another, they enhance communication and team work, accelerate knowledge creation and innovation, and improve learning and information management Lumsdaine and Lumsdaine, , This model may be used to determine the profile of a project so as to ensure that the correct team is assembled to address the requirements of the project.

The project team profiles provide strong instruments to indicate upfront where the strengths and possible blind spots or weaknesses within a project team might exist. These blind spots or weaknesses can then be proactively addressed to ensure that the project does not suffer. David H. Cropley, in Creativity in Engineering , However, it is based on an approach that differs substantially from divergent thinking Torrance or divergent production Guilford —a Gestalt 5 -psychology theory of creativity.

Critical thinking

The test has two forms, A and B, on each of which respondents are presented with a single sheet of paper containing a set incomplete figures for example, a semicircle, a wavy line, and a dotted line , supposedly part of an unfinished drawing. The test can thus be given to an individual person if desired. Studies in a number of different countries indicate that the inter-rater reliability of the test is above. The test manual reports correlations up to. My practical experience D.

Critical and creative thinking

The scores can be used either at the highly and perhaps artificially differentiated level of the 13 dimensions suggested in the handbook or by combining subtest scores to form the 3 more complex dimensions Productivity , Novelty , and Unconventionality that have been demonstrated factor-analytically:. Productivity involves continuation of what already exists in an existing direction: It produces novelty, but only in the sense of more of the same recall our use of this idea in the context of routine solutions. Novelty involves addition of new elements to what already exists, but along existing lines.

In Chapter 2 , I characterized this as new solutions satisfying old needs or better, faster, cheaper see Pathway 2 in Figure 2. Unconventionality occurs when new, surprising elements are added. I described this in terms of new solutions satisfying new needs or technology push in Figure 2. Thus, the TCT-DP makes it possible to differentiate novelty even further, and in a manner that is consistent with the development and progression of engineering solutions, by distinguishing between novelty through extension of what exists and novelty via generation of previously unknown elements.

John Baer, in Domain Specificity of Creativity , Theory matters, and the fact that divergent thinking might work as a metatheory — a collection of skills that have surface similarities, even though they are cognitively unrelated and cannot substitute for one another or even support one another unless from the same or a similar domain — does not make it a domain-general skill.

It is important to remember, always, that divergent thinking is not a single skill or set of skills. This point has been borne out in research see Chapter 2 , and it also makes theoretical sense. Once one acknowledges that creativity is largely domain specific, the search for a domain-general theory no longer makes sense.