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An Exploratory Study of Student Perceptions of Creativity and Its Importance in their Leadership Development

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Engineering Management Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Engineering Management

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Paper Authors


Princy L. D. Johnson Liverpool John Moores University Orcid 16x16

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Dr Princy Johnson is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Engineering at Liverpool John Moores University. She received her PhD from King’s College London, sponsored by the Commonwealth Scholarship. Her research interests include energy-efficient protocols for wireless sensor and mobile networks, Optimisation tools for Data Analysis, intelligent algorithms for personalised interface for healthcare and transport applications, and leadership skills for engineers. Dr Johnson is a registered PRINCE2 ® practitioner and an avid collaborator. She has put together a cohesive collaborative team from across Europe and coordinated the consortium through research activities and various UK and EU funding calls. Her collaboration with Penn State University in the area of leadership skills was funded by the LJMU’s collaborative research fellowship.

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Kathryn W. Jablokow Pennsylvania State University

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Dr. Kathryn Jablokow is a Professor of Engineering Design and Mechanical Engineering at Penn State University. A graduate of Ohio State University (Ph.D., Electrical Engineering), Dr. Jablokow’s teaching and research interests include problem solving, invention, and creativity in science and engineering, as well as robotics and computational dynamics. In addition to her membership in ASEE, she is a Senior Member of IEEE and a Fellow of ASME. Dr. Jablokow is the architect of a unique 4-course module focused on creativity and problem solving leadership and is currently developing a new methodology for cognition-based design.

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Creativity is essential for success in the engineering field at all levels of individual development, from novices to experts and from early career engineers to experienced engineering leaders. Some global technical organizations go to extraordinary lengths to develop working environments that hone the creative skills of their employees, while an increasing number of academic institutions strive to deliver curricula focused on creativity from a variety of perspectives. Despite these efforts, engineering professionals and academics continue to debate the best ways to embed and facilitate creativity in engineering programs. In this exploratory study, we investigated how engineering students perceive creativity and whether we could positively influence their acceptance of creativity as part of their leadership development. We analyzed a sample of graduate-level engineering students' perceptions of the importance of creativity to their professional and leadership development. Then, we explored whether those perceptions could be influenced through activity-based learning. Specifically, we embedded creativity concepts and practices within a masters-level engineering course focused on professional and leadership skills at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU). Creativity was introduced through a dedicated 3-hour lecture session and several activity-based learning sessions throughout the course. We captured the students' awareness and perceptions of creativity at multiple points throughout the course using a combination of assessments, including tailored questionnaires, the Belbin team roles instrument, self-reflection questionnaires, peer feedback questionnaires, and peer reviews. The students' progressive changes in awareness and perceptions of creativity, if any, were then extracted and analyzed using these datasets. The outcomes of this exploratory study indicated that the influences of cultural background and work training were some of the reasons for students’ apathy towards creativity. We also found that careful design and delivery of creativity-related sessions could positively influence their perceptions and improvement in the demonstration of creativity skills.

Johnson, P. L. D., & Jablokow, K. W. (2019, June), An Exploratory Study of Student Perceptions of Creativity and Its Importance in their Leadership Development Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32063

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