Creativity is Not a Purple Dragon
There are increasing calls for changes in engineering education to better prepare graduates to be innovative and creative. Yet, research on how the creative process can be implemented in engineering courses is scarce. The purpose of this paper is to provide a review of the current state of research on creativity in engineering education. The paper reviews articles from the last five years and discusses how creativity is conceptualized in engineering education research. A content analysis was conducted of engineering journal articles whose title includes the word "creative" or "creativity." Targeted journals included national and international journals in engineering education. Results suggest that, while most researchers have adopted definitions relating to unique, novel, and problem-solving, some research perpetuates myths and negative connotations of creativity. Also discussed in the paper is the need for engineering education researchers to identify how the creative process can be integrated throughout the engineering curriculum.
Thomas Litzinger is Director of the Leonhard Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Education and a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Penn State, where he has been on the faculty since 1985. He received his PhD in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Princeton in 1986. His work in engineering education involves teaching and learning innovations, curricular change, faculty development, and assessment. He also teaches and conducts research in combustion and thermal sciences. He is... Read More →
Irene B. Mena is a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Leonhard Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Education at The Pennsylvania State University. She has a BS and MS degrees in industrial engineering, and a PhD in engineering education. Her research interests include first-year engineering and graduate student professional development.
Dr. Sarah Zappe is Director of Assessment and Instructional Support in the Leonhard Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Education at Penn State. Sarah has a background in educational psychology focusing on applied testing and measurement. Her current research are on the measures of creativity and related constructs. She is also interested in methods of integrating the creative process throughout the engineering curriculum.
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