Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: Reflective Essay

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Creative thinking is one of the key desired educational outcomes in the 21st century as the demand for the capacity to be creative in the future workforce increases. (Zulfiqar,2018) Despite the importance, there is currently a gap in teaching creative thinking at schools and the ability to apply these skills at university or at work. School leavers recognize the importance of creative thinking at their workplace but note that they didn’t have enough opportunity to develop it in school. (Davis,2017) Disembodies Creativity (Fordham,2018) explores the importance of creativity in business graduates and investigates levels of engagement with higher-order critical thinking and behaviors associated with creativity. Teaching for creativity and teaching content knowledge is often feared by educators but need not be in opposition. Creative thinking requires a significant amount of content knowledge and thinking creatively about a topic helps deepen one’s knowledge of that topic (Beghetto,2010) Media and policy texts also depict issues on creative thinking which supports the study’s views and gives reliability.

The past two decades have seen a major and unrelenting call for more testing of students and more explicit and detailed content standards that form the framework for such assessment. Although no Child Left Behind legislation has played a prominent role in recent educational policy formulations, federal mandates have not been the only forces pushing for greater accountability (Fuhrman, 2001 1996)

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The focus of this study was to help third-year students to understand industry expectations of creativity. The project sought to explore and explain a perceived absence of creative thinking in a selected cohort of students enrolled in marketing and public relations. The examination was conducted whether the performance of creativity can be enhanced through individual critical reflection on the nature and value of creativity and analyses of how students' self-assessment data can extend teaching practice and improve curriculum design so business students can better meet industry expectations of creative skill. By considering students' views on creativity and comparing them to educator expectations, it was anticipated that the resulting data would produce insight into teaching practice and curriculum design.

As an action research study, the problem and data collection were shaped by the researcher’s epistemological position. In this case, the educator had considerable media and communication experience, which led to the view that creativity was a skill set grounded in research, critical thinking, applied problem-solving, and the ability to adapt concepts, ideas, and outcomes in different contexts. (Fordham,2015)

Data collection was processed by qualitative research. Fordham anticipated that student comments and observations would produce a richer data set and make visible the degree of divergence or correlation between teacher and student expectations of creativity. Qualitative methodology was also used to identify the key attributes, skills, and behaviors of creativity in learning and working environments. By inviting students to critically reflect upon and assess their own creative abilities and analyze the implications of the questionnaire data for students, teaching practice and curriculum design their attitudes and views were able to be identified. The questionnaire was followed with a classroom presentation, outlining the different types of creativity and mindsets and characteristics related to creativity. Fordham mentions the usage of the TTCT Torrance Test of Creative Thinking model and the 5+1 behaviors of Innovative Thinking proposed by Miller and Wedell-Wedellsborg(2013) in order to demonstrate that creativity could be a learned process. She argues that it is associated with specific forms of critical thinking and problem solving that could be replicated yet fail to mention the specific of the TTCT and how reliable it is. Participants were then asked to apply these behaviors and thinking patterns in a group activity that involved devising a social media campaign for a company. Finally, a second questionnaire was conducted in which they were to reconsider their initial self-assessment as well as provide feedback on how creativity generally could be strengthened in a learning environment.

It is questionable that Fordham didn’t include any ethical considerations in her study. Informed consent is crucial for any research, it is impossible for us to know if the ethical need was met. The questionnaire was conducted during her lecture time which could raise suspicions. However, confidentiality and anonymity were well kept throughout the study which guarantees the participant's identities to be hidden and protected. Ethical guidelines also require ensuring that participants are treated humanely and with respect, which in this case was not seen to be violated in any way. Ethical considerations are one of the most crucial parts of research and it is dubious that Fordham’s study was conducted ethically.

Gonski mentions the need to prioritize support for teaching the skills of the future. The general capabilities need to be more effectively translated from the Australian Curriculum into the classroom, so students acquire the full set of knowledge, skills, and capabilities to succeed in the rapidly changing world of work.

Policy statement Critical and Creative thinking (ACARA,2019) and Media article Is school 'killing' your child's creativity? And does this matter? (Wood,2017) has similar views on the issues behind creative thinking. They all mention the fault in the system and the educators for not being able to provide students with the environment to nurture their creativity. In particular, the media article mentions the crowded curriculum and how it restricts teachers’ willingness to spend time being creative. (Wood,2017) Although the study defines the issue the lack of suggestions for improvement is unfortunate.

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