The Effect of Problem-Solving Instruction on Children's Creativity and Self-Efficacy in the Teaching of the Practical Arts Subject

Article excerpt

Theoretical Framework

Practical arts is a subject that not only promotes learners' better understanding of work in their daily lives, but also enables them to find ways to solve work-related problems by fostering basic skills and attitudes necessary for performing the work (Ministry of Education, 1993). That is why the Ministry of Education in Korea (1993) identified the practical arts subject as a "practical living" subject, a "creative problem-solving subject," and an "integrated knowledge subject." Moreover, practical arts education in the aspect of its educational goal helps develop students' problem-solving and creative-thinking skills. In the methodological aspect, it also develops students' self-efficacy by helping them acquire daily living skills as well as the joy of work experience and a sense of accomplishment through experiential learning based on the work experience (Ministry of Education, 1993). That's why the Ministry of Education made the practical arts subject a required course for the elementary education system in Korea.

The teaching of practical arts as a subject should be focused on developing creativity and self-efficacy by the active employment of scientific thinking through the activity-centered decision-making process. Plus, the teaching of the practical arts subject must be conducted according to the problem-solving model (Kwak, 1988; Seoul-Inchon Area Research Association of the Practical Arts Education, 1995; Research Association of the Practical Arts Education for All Korea National Universities of Education, 1997). However, most elementary school teachers in Korea have used the typical instruction method (lecture) to teach students the practical arts subject.

Choi (1997) suggested that practical arts education should be performed based on work experience activities by using problem-solving methods since the assumption of a model for the problem-solving method lies in the reflective thinking process; learners by themselves try to study creatively or reach conclusions comprehensively. And Kwak (1988) emphasized that the topics of practical arts education need to be taught by the problem-solving method while considering the necessity of problem-solving ability and creative thinking.

Na (1997) insisted that practical arts instruction should signify learner-centered instruction (i.e., learning by doing, using the various methods such as investigation, discussion, experiment, and work experience). While considering what students learned in previous instruction, then practical arts teachers could apply the content of the subject in the real situation by giving a sense of accomplishment as well as self-efficacy. Na added that in particular there should be priority in the student-centered problem-solving instruction so that creativity and self-efficacy could be developed.

But there exists a remarkable difference between the reality in educational fields and the researchers' insistence based on the result of the studies on problem-solving ability, creative thinking, and self-efficacy as shown in the above studies. In other words, creativity education as specified in the characteristics and goals of practical arts education has not been conducted properly, not to mention the lack of the establishment of a theoretical foundation for creativity education in the practical arts. However, Chung (1997) provided the theoretical foundation of creativity education in practical arts by analyzing the factors of creativity and their relation to the content of the practical arts subject and presenting the factors of the representative learning content for practical arts in each grade.

Hence, this study has two significant points: one is the examination of the effects on children's creativity and self-efficacy by applying problem-solving instruction in practical arts education, and the other is the implementation of the first study in Korea on problem-solving, creativity, and self-efficacy with the potential for further research. …