Leveraging Computer Interface to Support Creative Thinking

Leveraging Computer Interface to Support Creative Thinking

Robert Z. Zheng (University of Utah, USA) and Kevin Greenberg (University of Utah, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7371-5.ch012


How to design computer interface that facilitates learners' creative thinking can be challenging. This chapter discusses the cognitive processes, the types of divergent thinking, visualization, and brain-functions in relation to human learning. Informed by the research in previous areas, the authors examine the features of computer interface that aligns with brain-functions to support various types of creative thinking. An example is included to demonstrate, at the conceptual level, how computer interface can be leveraged to support learners' creativity, imagination, originality, and expressiveness in learning. Discussions are made with respect to the implication and limitation of the chapter. The chapter concludes with suggestions for future research and studies.
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Theoretical Background

Creative thinking is a cognitive process that often results in novel approaches to learning and production. According to Merrian-Webster Dictionary, create means “to produce through imaginative skill” (Merrian-Webster Dictionary, 2018). Within the literature of creative thinking research, the term is defined as originality, expressiveness, and imagination (Goldschmidt, 2016; Lopez-Ortega, 2013; Widiana & Jampel, 2016). There are two aspects of creative thinking, divergent thinking, which is defined as generating many ideas, and convergent thinking that is developing a plausible solution to a problem (Colzato, Ozturk, & Hommel, 2012). The reductionist approach which typically employs convergent thinking in reasoning, researchers in creative thinking advocate divergent thinking as a vehicle to achieve innovation, expressiveness and resourcefulness (Boden, 1998; Lopez-Ortega, 2013; Smith & Kosslyn, 2007).

This chapter focuses on divergent creative thinking, as digit technology can provide a great aid to this aspect of creativity. There are several types of divergent thinking: spontaneous, deliberate, and constructive thinking. Spontaneous divergent thinking refers to the process of on-going idea generation. Deliberate divergent thinking refers to the deliberating process in creative thinking. Finally, constructive divergent thinking is marked by a process in the genesis of knowledge. A discussion of each type of divergent creative thinking follows.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Contextual Visualization: Contextual visualization refers to a visual context in which isolated objectives and images become meaningfully connected. It facilitates deliberate divergent thinking in learning where the learner relates meaningfully the isolated image to the whole image through mental association.

Convergent Thinking: The convergent thinking follows a procedure where a set of logical steps are employed to arrive at one particular solution, often defined as a “correct” solution. It is in contrast to divergent thinking which is characterized by a spontaneous, free-flowing, and “non-linear” manner.

Spontaneous Divergent Thinking: A term refers to the process of on-going idea generation. Spontaneous divergent thinking occurs in a spontaneous, free-flowing, “non-linear” manner. The emphasis is on developing learners’ ability to explore many possible solutions through knowledge association, multiple perspectives, and dimensional thinking.

Synthetic Visualization: Synthetic visualization is one of the visual strategies to help learners synthesize information that are initially indecipherable. This type of visuals usually contains a blotch of random lines and shapes which require the learner to mentally figure out the images, shapes and patterns through synthesizing. Its purpose is to develop human ability to visually synthesize clues from a seemingly random collection of splotches that eventually nurture learners’ creativity, imagination, and expressiveness.

Constructive Divergent Thinking: This type of divergent thinking is marked by a process in the genesis of knowledge. It is originated from the constructivist educational philosophy that advocates social interaction in learning by taking into account the background and culture of the learner throughout the learning process.

Deliberate Divergent Thinking: It generally refers to the deliberating process in creative thinking. In deliberate divergent thinking ideas are generated in an emergent cognitive fashion guarded by a reflective process. Many possible solutions are explored in a short amount of time, and unexpected connections are drawn. After the process of divergent thinking has been completed, the convergent thinking process is often used to organize and structure the ideas and information.

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