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Board 35: A Creative Approach to the Undergraduate Research Experience

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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

Design in Engineering Education Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

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Paper Authors

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Ferris Pfeiffer University of Missouri


Johannes Strobel University of Missouri

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Dr. Johannes Strobel is Professor, Information Science & Learning Technologies at the University of Missouri where he leads a maker space initiative and conducts research in STEM education, particularly engineering. His research and teaching focuses on engineering as an innovation in pre-college education; learning through hands-on activities; and empathy and care in engineering. He published more than 140 papers in proceedings and journals (many with graduate and undergraduate students) and directed large scale projects in engineering education research. He is the founding editor for the Journal of Pre-College Engineering Education, co-editor of the book “Engineering in Pre-College Settings: Synthesizing Research, Policy, and Practices” and “Technology Education Today: International Perspectives“ and co-lead author of Hands-on Standards STEM in Action, an award winning internationally available set of learning modules for grades preK - 5th grade published by ETA hand2mind and LearningResourcesUK.

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Suzanne Burgoyne University of Missouri

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Suzanne Burgoyne, Ph.D., is a Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor of Theatre, and Director of MU’s Center for Applied Theatre and Drama Research. A Carnegie Scholar, Fulbright, Kellogg National, and Kemper Fellow, she was named Outstanding Teacher 2003 by The Association for Theatre in Higher Education. Since 2013, she has taught Creativity for the Non-Arts Major for MU’s honors college. She also has been collaborating with MU bioengineers to teach their capstone students creativity, with promising research results. Suzanne’s edited volume, Creativity in Theatre: Theory and Action in Theatre/Drama Education was just published by Springer.

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The future of engineering education demands a workforce whose interdisciplinary academic training extends from a sub-atomistic understanding of fundamental science to a broad understanding of increasingly complex systems and processes. However, as the global challenges that our engineering workforce address become increasingly interwoven and complex, it becomes necessary to improve the educational practices used to train the next generation of engineers such that the students can not only understand and apply the curriculum, but can also innovate upon what they have learned. In this project, students received one hour per week of creativity training developed by theatre professor, Dr. Suzanne Burgoyne, and implemented by Drs. Hunt and Pfeiffer, who have three years of experience working with Burgoyne’s creativity training program.6,7 The active learning process implemented here integrated techniques drawn from actor training, improvisation, and theatre of the oppressed8 with creative problem-solving methods drawn from multiple research-based sources.9 Findings suggest that unless one is willing to risk trying something new—and making mistakes—one cannot be creative.10 Theatre exercises enable students to open their minds, question assumptions, and see things differently rather than seeing different things. These activities have been shown to improve students’ abilities to think creatively.9,11 Given below is a brief week-by-week description of activities implemented. Week 1: Enabling Creativity by Developing a Safe Week 2: Active Listening in Research Week 3: Understanding and Challenging Week 4: Convergent and Divergent Thinking in Research, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Week 5: Reframing the Question Week 6: Generating Solutions Week 7: Evaluating Solutions Week 8: Communicating a Solution Three instruments that assess creativity were used to measure outcomes: the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking (TTCT), Guilford’s Alternative Uses Task, and a new creativity assessment designed by Bisschoff et al. specifically for university students that uses elements of TTCT 77. The TTCT is a highly reliable creative thinking measure have been used to identify creatively gifted children through adults in the U.S., especially in multicultural settings. The tests invite students to write questions, reasons, and different uses for objects, as well as consequences for their use. The results are assessed for fluency, flexibility, and originality, and can be scored locally using the Manual for Scoring and Interpreting Results that comes with the assessment. Similarly, Guilford’s test asks students to list as many possible uses for a common household item (like a newspaper) that they can identify. Scoring is comprised of four components: originality, fluency, flexibility, and elaboration; the assessment can be given quickly and scoring follows a simple rubric. The Bisschoff et al. test is a simple survey that includes twelve important factors that can be used together to assess changes in creative thinking: challenging the status quo, separate, synthesis, cognition, associate and communicate, awareness, similarity, external motivation, sensitivity, experiment and combine, dimensional thinking and problem-solving. In this paper, we will discuss the results of these experiences on students' creative processes and how this training can impact the development of an innovative work force.

Pfeiffer, F., & Strobel, J., & Burgoyne, S. (2019, June), Board 35: A Creative Approach to the Undergraduate Research Experience Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32329

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