Helping Students Generate Creative Ideas

Jim Flowers Ball State University

1. Brainstorming
 Good

for a flood of ideas  Limited by what’s in the lake

Rules:
 (Assumption:

Clear problem definition)  Defer judgment.  Aim for quantity and variety.  Record all responses.

Options
 Present

examples?  Allow incubation time?  Set a time limit?  Vary the number of brainstormers?

Typical procedure:
 State

rules  Present problem statement  (List examples)  Allow for incubation  Say “Go”  Record all responses.

5 Brainstorming Examples
 Individual  Whole-group  Small  Relay  Round

group robin

Individual Brainstorming

(Get ready to write your responses.)

Topic: Uses for Animal Skin
 Common

response: leather shoe  Uncommon response: to hold animals together

Whole class brainstorming
 (Get

ready to call out your responses.)

Topic: Types of Ships
Common response: battleship  Uncommon response: penmanship

Small Group Brainstorming

(Collaborate with your group members.)

Topic:
 “How

can you use a barometer to help determine the height of a building?”

Relay Brainstorming
Each team member must respond in order.  Responses cannot be used twice.  No helping is allowed.  Teams compete.

Relay Brainstorming
 (Who

responds first?)  (Get ready to respond.)

Topic: Things that support other things.
 (You

must list the thing that supports and the thing supported.)  Common response: A foundation supports a building.  Uncommon response: Parents support the PTA.

Round Robin Brainstorming
Respond quickly.  Respond only during your turn.  Step back when you are asked.

Topic:

“New uses for discarded automobile tires”

5 Brainstorming Examples
 Individual  Whole-group  Small  Relay  Round

group robin

Common Aspects of Brainstorming Sessions
Many ideas  Wide variety of ideas  Limited  Defer judgment (no killer phrases allowed)  Quick  Active  Creative

Brainstorming sessions differ regarding:
 Size

of group  Time limits  Competition  Mode of expression  Noisiness  Pressure

Is it right to put students under pressure when we ask them to be creative?

Use brainstorming:
 To

generate possible solutions.  To help generate problem statements.  As a break in a class.  To introduce or break the ice.  Where creative responses are appropriate.

Beyond brainstorming

2. Forced Questioning
 Problem

solvers use terms to help them formulate original questions regarding a topic.

Basic Question Terms
 Who  What  Where  When  Why  How

Sample Problem:
 Design

a system for packaging an egg so that it can withstand being released 20’ above the ground without breaking.

Questions for Egg Drop
 What

packaging shapes absorb impact?  When, during the egg’s descent, should our system act?  What other technologies are designed to minimize injury due to impact?  Why are we assuming the egg is to fall?

Question Dice & Question Wheels

Second Set of Terms
 Did  Will  Might  Would  Could  Should

Typical 2-Dice Terms
 Who

could…  When will…  What might…

What can you do with a piece of paper?
Write notes.  Draw pictures.  Scribble.  Work out math problems.  Draw maps.

3. Attribute Listing
 List

all of the attributes or properties of an object so that unintended uses appear.

Paper:
 White  Thin

(0.004”)  90-degree corners  Translucent

4. Manipulative Verbs
 Help

us consider a certain change in physical objects or concepts.

Reverse (Push/Pull)

Manipulative Verbs
Adapt  Modify  Substitute  Magnify  Minify  Rearrange  Reverse  Combine  (Other)

(Alex Osborn)

Manipulative verbs:
 Can

be applied to solutions  Can be applied to problem statements

Problem Statement Reversal
 State

the opposite of your goal:  “How can we get people to hate our web site and leave it right away?”

5. Forced Lateral Thinking
 Violates

tacit assumptions  (Assumption Smashing)  E.g., how can our competitive robot store more balls than its rival?  Can become  How can our robot get one ball and destroy the rival?

6. Thinking Assignments
“Six thinking hats” (Edward deBono)  White Hat Thinking: facts  Red: intuitions and emotions  Black: judgment and caution  Yellow: logical positive; finding the good in each option  Green: creative alternatives  Blue: control; metacognition

7. Forced Analogy & Metaphorical Thinking
 Our

company as a life preserver  My family seems like candle  Love is like a whetstone  The Internet is our conscience
 (Later

elaborations)

8. Sketching & Sketchstorming
 Fast

sketchstorming  Slower, more detailed sketching  Sketching while manipulating a 3D object

9. Constructing / 3D Modeling / Tinkering
 Allow

physical objects to stimulate ideas.  Have students generate solutions by helping them with visualization.  Help student with visualization by having them generate solutions.

10. Thought Book / Diary / Log
 “Last

night, in a dream, I had this great idea for a new invention. I remembered the idea when I first awoke, but I can’t recall it now.”

11. Stream of Consciousness

12. Association
 Stream

of terms  Pairs of terms  (Random input method)

Paired Term Association Example
 Term  Egg  Break  Fall  Time

Asked

Response yolk pedal leaf delay

Forced Connections (Hybrid Ideas)
 Making

a connection between two seemingly unrelated terms, concepts or objects.  Conceptual: In-line skates  Physical: Swiss army knife

Forced Connections: New Product Ideas
Eagle  Dog  Chair  Broom  Sun  Water  Oil  Poetry

13. Morphological Charts
 List

different properties (shapes) as column headings and the possible choices below; select a path through the chart.

Chair Chart
 Matl

Color  Wood black  Metal brown  Plastic white  blue

Rock yes no

Height tall regular adjustable

Chair Chart
 Matl

Color  Wood black  Metal brown  Plastic white  blue

Rock yes no

Height tall regular adjustable

14. Mind Mapping
 Tony

Buzan

15. Other graphic displays
 Storyboarding  Venn

Diagrams  Flowcharting  Lotus Blossom
 Thinkpak

by  Michael Michalko

16. Fooling your mind
 Putting

it on the back burner
Problem Solving”

 “Unconscious

 Walking

around

 Frequent

disruptions may promote alternatives.  Cf “The Discontinuity Principle”

17. Research!!!
Visit the library.  Read.  Search the Internet.  Ask experts.  Conduct experiments.  Visit the competition. (Imitation)  Read more.  Assess previous attempts.  Discuss what you know.  Read.

18. Question the Problem and its Assumptions
 Kirk

reprogrammed the computer.  Peaches will not grow everywhere.  “Maybe it’s not a (blank) problem at all; maybe it’s really a (blank) problem, instead.”

Promoting critical thought
 Pay

them to:

 Find

a mistake  Add to a list
 Double
 Find

their credit if they:

a mistake on a test  Post a correction of a web site
 Make

mistakes on purpose

5 Examples of
 1.

Brainstorming

 Individual  Whole-group  Small  Relay  Round

group robin

Other Ideation Techniques
 2.  3.

Forced Questioning
Dice & Question Wheels

 Question

Attribute Listing  4. Manipulative Verbs  5. Forced Lateral Thinking  6. Thinking Assignments  7. Forced Analogy & Metaphorical

More Ideation Techniques
 8.

Sketching & Sketchstorming  9. Constructing / 3D Modeling / Tinkering  10. Thought Book / Diary / Log  11. Stream of Consciousness  12. Association
 Forced

Connections

More Ideation Techniques
 13.

Morphological Charts  14. Mind Mapping  15. Other graphic displays  16. Fooling your mind  17. Research  18. Question the Problem and its Assumptions

Helping Students Generate Creative Ideas
Jim Flowers Ball State University