Academic journal article SAM Advanced Management Journal

What If? Teaching Creativity to Business Undergraduates

Academic journal article SAM Advanced Management Journal

What If? Teaching Creativity to Business Undergraduates

Article excerpt

Those who are proscribing standards for contemporary business education, ranging from AACSB International (1) (Schlee & Harich, 2014) to AACU (Reynolds et al., 2013), cite the importance of including creativity among desired student learning outcomes. This is consistent with the many practitioners and academics--and the robust literature stream--explaining the need for education to encourage and develop students' creative mindset and attendant skills. In the TED Talk "Do Schools Kill Creativity?"--one of the most popular TED Talks in history-- Sir Ken Robinson said it this way: "[Creativity] now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status" (Robinson, 2006). Robinson cites a study indicating that 80% of educators think creativity should be among learning standards for students (Clifford, n.d.). Findings of Stanford Institute of Design's Dr. Tina Seelig underscore the importance of doing so. She reports that those who innovate are succeeding in every field, but schools rarely teach the creative problem-solving skills that are foundational to innovation (Seelig, 2012). A "Commentary" in The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that creativity will increasingly be the basis of the U.S. economy and articulates the resulting collective call in a phrase. Its authors, Lingo and Tepper, envision the 21st century as "the century of the creative campus" (2010).

This prescription to develop students' creativity is neither passing fad nor abstract hypothesis. Amabile began publishing her foundational work in creativity and innovation some 35 years ago (3), Bloom's 1956 taxonomy of learning objectives was revised in 2001 to include creativity (replacing synthesis) as the highest level of student learning (Reynolds et al., 2013), and Pink's 2005 work A Whole New Mind called popular attention to the likelihood that in the globalized marketplace having knowledge will be insufficient and it will be having creativity that is rewarded (Goodwin & Miller, 2013). Continuing this identification of creativity's importance, IBM's 2010 study of 1,500 company leaders internationally and across industries reported creativity to be the number one competency for future leader success--outranking rigor, management discipline, integrity, and vision (IBM, 2010). Student perceptions appear to align with these. An ongoing national survey of U.S. undergraduate creativity and academics found 84% of the undergraduates reporting creativity as an important or very important skill, 23% more than reported quantitative problem-solving as important or very important (Lingo & Tepper, 2010).

Can Students Learn to Be More Creative?

Given this context, a logical and central question for educators is whether creativity can be taught. This article stems from that question. The article's author, a professor of management, sought to construct and use research-grounded pedagogy that developed student creativity, but was unsure if that was more oxymoron than valid initiative. The authors ensuing review of the extant academic and practitioner literature found a solid answer to whether creativity can be taught: Yes. The literature reports that creativity is innate in all people, and that it is both a natural form of human behavior and an ability that can be developed (Livingston, 2010). Literature further reports that because children are highly creative but become less so as they age, it is non-creative thinking that is unnatural and derived from socialization (Goodwin & Miller, 2013; Kelley & Kelley, 2012). International Design and Consulting Firm IDEO depicts creativity as a muscle, a reservoir of potential that all people have and that can be built up in each person (Kelley & Kelley, 2013). Seelig is among those whose affirmation is based on teaching experience. Her 2012 and 2015 books (4) share specific pedagogy that she has successfully used for many years to develop her university students' creativity. …

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