Fostering Creativity

Article excerpt

To be competitive in a rapidly changing world, our nation needs highly knowledgeable engineers who can combine analytical thinking with creativity. The lead articles in this issue of ASEE PRISM, "Awakening Creativity," page 18, and "Brain Storms," page 24, examine the creativity portion of this requirement. Both articles claim that all engineering students possess the ability to generate fresh ideas and approaches and that they can learn to enhance this ability with help from their professors.

I agree with this assertion and would add that there is a "right way" to provide these nurturing experiences. That way is to integrate creative thinking into all aspects of the curriculum, not just to offer a single, well-planned course on the topic. Such integration is a very ambitious undertaking, of course. Every faculty member first needs to "buy into" the value of creativity, and second, to learn how to modify traditional teaching techniques to stimulate such thinking. Pure lecturing, for example, is unlikely to generate a high degree of student creativity. On the other hand, cooperative learning, problem-based learning, and other active learning strategies are likely to be necessary elements. …