Scholarly article on topic 'A Neuro-educational Study of the Development of the Creativity-based Teaching Program and its Effect'

A Neuro-educational Study of the Development of the Creativity-based Teaching Program and its Effect Academic research paper on "Economics and business"

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{"Creativity-based teaching programs" / "Divergent thinking" / "The TTCT" / FMRI}

Abstract of research paper on Economics and business, author of scientific article — Sun-Hyung Park, Kwang-Ki Kim, Kyung-Hwa Lee

Abstract This study aims at exploring a possibility of developing a creativity-based teaching program needed for enhancing prospective teachers’ creative potentials based on the theories of Sawyer and Renzulli. Neuroimaging tools such as fMRI were used to identify effects of the program on pre-service teachers’ neural activations on divergent thinking measured primarily by the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT). Since the research is still in progress, we present a theoretical model for the teaching program, and preliminary test results of comparing changes of neural recruitments in students’ brain participated in fMRI with the TTCT.

Academic research paper on topic "A Neuro-educational Study of the Development of the Creativity-based Teaching Program and its Effect"

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Procedía - Social and Behavioral Sciences 186 (2015) 1 - 8

5th World Conference on Learning, Teaching and Educational Leadership, WCLTA 2014

A Neuro-Educational Study of The Development of The Creativity-Based Teaching Program and Its Effect

Sun-Hyung Parka*, Kwang-Ki Kimb, Kyung-Hwa Leec

aDepartment of Education, Dongguk University, Seoul, Korea bDepartment of Neurology, Dongguk University Ilsan Hospital, Seoul, Korea cDepartment of Lifelong Education, Soongsil University, Seoul Korea


This study aims at exploring a possibility of developing a creativity-based teaching program needed for enhancing prospective teachers' creative potentials based on the theories of Sawyer and Renzulli. Neuroimaging tools such as fMRI were used to identify effects of the program on pre-service teachers' neural activations on divergent thinking measured primarily by the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT). Since the research is still in progress, we present a theoretical model for the teaching program, and preliminary test results of comparing changes of neural recruitments in students' brain participated in fMRI with the TTCT.

© 2015TheAuthors.PublishedbyElsevier Ltd.This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of Academic World Education and Research Center Keywords: creativity-based teaching programs; divergent thinking; the TTCT; fMRI

1. Introduction

Creativity is a fundamental mental activity by which humans have utilized to enhance the quality of life as well as civilizations through innovation. As the development of human resources with creative competency is most needed for the economic growth and sustainable competitive power of countries facing an uncertain and complex world these days, nurturing creativity at schools becomes one of the major goals to be attained in educational policy agenda (Beghetto & Kaufman, 2010). As noted in many other countries, Korea also has been concerned with developing creative human resources so that the notion of creativity has been emphasized as a keystone to which referred for the implementation of the national curriculum. Recently, the "Basic Plan for Creativity and Character

* Sun-Hyung Park. Tel.: +82-2-2260-3387; fax: +82-2-2260-3886 E-mail address:

1877-0428 © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (

Peer-review under responsibility of Academic World Education and Research Center doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.04.200

Education" has been launched by the Korean Ministry of Education to consolidate previous policy attempts of creativity education into a more compact form to implement (MEST, 2009). However, all the efforts put into the policy have mainly targeted for primary and secondary school sectors, not aimed for higher education especially pre-service education for the professional development of prospective teachers. This seems to be problematic and unusual since teachers are largely responsible for preparing young students to become competent citizens required in creative economy. Given that teachers are regarded as one of the builders of professional capital as well as human and social capital for their nation(Hargreaves, 2012), more appropriate systematic plans for educating and training pre-service students with creativity are needed. This paper aims at exploring a possible means to develop a creativity-based teaching program for prospective teachers and targets identifying its effect on divergent thinking of pre-service students using the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT) and fMRI. Since the research is still in progress, we present a theoretical model for the teaching program only that will be developed and preliminary test results of comparing changes of neural recruitments in students' brain participated in fMRI with the TTCT.

2. Development and enhancement of creativity

Since Paul Guildford's Presidential address of the American Psychology Association in 1950, creativity also has become one of the main topics to be researched in the field of educational psychology. Although there are a few scholars arguing for a more broadened version of creativity that includes a criterion such as 'surprise'(Simonton, 2012), most researchers seem to have come to the view that the definition of creativity consists of the two major conceptions containing originality (novelty or uniqueness) and appropriateness (effectiveness or usefulness). The idea of the '4Ps' (person, process, product, and press), identified by Rhodes (1961), has been very useful as a guideline for creativity research. Person refers to all of the internal characteristics of individuals. Process includes various ways of enhancing and developing creativity. Product represents the actual results and performance outcomes generated by what persons and processes create. Press indicates all of the environmental factors influencing on the emergence of creativity. While theoretical contents involved in person, product and press have been examined in literature with a detailed manner, various aspects of process were not sufficiently explored for research to proceed. The act of creativity remains as 'a black box' due to its unobservable nature and unmeasurable features of how appropriately creativity was enhanced and generated with well-designed techniques.

Although there have been some different views (e.g., a radical nativist view of creativity), it is largely agreed that creativity can be enhanced and educated with creativity-facilitating programs (Beghetto, 2013). According to a recent meta-analysis of 70 studies dealing with creativity training programs and their effectiveness (Scott, Leritz and Mumford, 2004), creativity can be fostered. The most effective approach to educate students in creativity was to allow "participants to analyze novel, ill-defined but realistic problems" (Cropley, 2011: 441). Similarly, in his metaanalysis, Tse-Yang Huang(2005) also supported that the way of creativity training influenced on the behavior of children, University students and adults. A more recent study indicated that the inclusion of neuroscience principles in a creative course which had run for 8 weeks led to the improvement of divergent thinking skills with an individual relative average of 28.5% (Onarheim & Friis-Olivarius, 2013).

When considering over the problems concerning what type of principles and models are likely to be most effective in developing creative teaching programs, however, some disagreements amongst scholars have emerged. Based on evidence gained from his creativity research conducted for decades, Sawyer (2013) suggested the eight steps to resolve this debating issue, named "Zig Zag", where creativity happens not by a linier process but by incremental changes between the steps. Figure 1 below appears to capture the key stages of all of the various models, proposed in the field of psychology, for the creative process. Following the Zig Zag model, we will devise our creativity teaching program for prospective teachers.

This wotk was supported bythe National Research Foundation cfKotea Grantfundsd by the Kotean Govetnment(NRF-2013S1A3A2042899)

Draw it See it Build it Make it Reflect on it

Finding question Search the space Transform the problem

Know what you're looking for Host an idea competition Look past the good Edit, revise, improve


Force-fuse Make analogies Do a people mash-up


Practice deliberately Master your domain Learn forever Balance specialty with generality


Use fresh eyes

Grab new sights and cool

sound Rend it visible


Visualize Relax Find the right box Be a beginner

Ideate Transform Schedule

Fig. 1. The Zig Zag model

We will also make use of the Enrichment Triad Model, developed by Renzulli, which has proven to be the most successful and influential in gifted education and creative education. The model aims at enriching learning and teaching can be applied systematically for students of all ages (Sawyer, 2012: 393; Garcia-Cepero, 2008).

Fig. 2. The Enrichment Triad model

The three types of enrichment are depicted in Figure. 2 (Renzulli & De Wet, 2010; 39). Type I enrichment consists of general exploratory experiences that are designed to expose students to topics in areas of study not usually covered in the regular curriculum. Type II enrichment consists of group training in thinking and feeling processes, learning-how-to-learn skills, research and reference skills, and written, oral and visual communication. Type III enrichment consists of firsthand investigations of real problems. The educational effects of the creativity teaching program based on the Zig Zag 8 steps and the Enrichment Triad Model will be measured and identified by the TTCT and fMRI when it is implemented for 14 weeks in the first semester, 2015.

3. Neurological base of creativity

Traditionally, mental states are thought of as unique phenomena separated from physical states. Philosophers such as Plato, Descartes and Kant contributed to this tradition. In their view, psychological puzzles should be resolved by invoking pure reason and logic. Natural scientists have a different view. For them, our psychological life is a natural phenomenon to be understood. They believe that mental states and processes are merely sophisticated states and processes of a complex physical system, and given that we humans have brains, our mental states are brain states (Churchland, 1988: 2). Assuming that the cognitive activity of an organism is brain activity, it can be proposed that successful neuroscientific accounts of cognitive functioning of how brains work and embody information will be eventually able to illuminate complex natures of mental states such as creativity. Over the last

decades, neurosciences, scientific accounts of a real physical structure in our brain activity, have been able to provide us with the extensive knowledge base of cognitive and neural processes of creativity.

Since Guilford (1967: 166) proposed that divergent thinking, defined as the ability to generate multiple solutions to an open-ended problem, is a key aspect of creativity, the TTCT evaluating creative performance for divergent thinking styles have become the most widely used test of creativity (Fink, Benedek, Staudt & Neubauer, 2007). There are two forms of the verbal and two forms of the figural. These tests use divergent thinking production tasks and measure scores for fluency, flexibility, originality, abstractness of titles, resistance to premature closure and elaboration. The standard scores of each of the factors are used according to the TTCT Norms-Technical Manual (Torrance, 1998) to draw a "creative index" (CI). There are also other influential tests of creativity, namely the remote associate test (RAT) and the Consensual Assessment Techniques (CAT). While the former is to deal with the concept of associations and convergence, the latter is to assess creativity perceived in finished artifacts based on judgments of a group of experts in the domain.

Neuroscientific studies of creativity largely tend to adopt various neuroimaging and neuroelectric techniques including PET, fMRI, and EEG in order to examine the neural processes of how creativity occurs in our brain. The related literature can be broadly classified into three groups: a) studies using divergence (TTCT) or convergence (RAT) tests, b) studies on "Aha" insights, and c) studies using professionally creative individuals in the domain of arts (Wiggins & Bhattacharya, 2014: 4).

It was traditionally assumed in the field of educational psychology that creativity can be captured with the concept of divergent thinking involving the exploration of remote associations, and that the right hemisphere is the main site where creativity is located (Dietrich, 2007: 1). Recent research findings have provided opposing views regarding the loci of creativity and the appropriateness of divergent thinking as a means to measure for creativity. For example, research evidence from neuroimaging experiment do not support "a special role of any anatomical locus of divergent thinking with the exception of the prefrontal cortices" responsible for working memory, temporal integration and sustained attention for higher cognitive functions (Dietrich, 2004; Dietrich & Kanso, 2010: 833). As Sawyer (2011) reported, there is clear evidence that all cognitive functions involve many regions of the brain. In other words, creativity is also not localized but distributed in our neural configurations of the brain. Meanwhile, while divergent thinking is an essential factor of many components of creativity, it needs to be noted that convergent thinking is also required for knowledge and analytic thinking for the elaboration phase of the creative process (Guildford, 1967).

We will examine hemisphere laterality regarding creativity and divergent thinking with right brain specialization using fMRI with the TTCT. This attempt is substantiated by the observation made a decade ago that "due to the lack of communication between neuroscience and creativity research, none of these psychometric measures has been used in combination with functional neuroimaging tools" (Dietrich, 2004: 1022)

4. Materials and Methods

4.1 Participants

Fifty seven teachers' college students at Dongguk University, Seoul, were evaluated using the TTCT Figural form A. From that sample twelve right-handed (Edinburgh handedness scale) participants (4 males, 8 females) were recruited using their creativity index (CI) gained with the TTCT figural form A for a high (group A) and a low score group (group B). While group A consisted of students with CI= 108-123, group B included students with CI= 61-93. The mean of each group was 114 and 83. The mean age of the high score group (group A) was 18.9 (range: 18-20) and the mean age of the low score group (group B) was 20.2 (range: 18-24). Group A included 7 participants and group B included 5 participants. All participants joined in the study after signing an informed consent approved by the institutional review board for public authority specified by Korean ministry of health and welfare. Exclusion criteria included previous neurological illness, history of learning disability, head trauma with loss of consciousness, current or past use of psycho stimulant medications, or pregnancy. All participants were pre-screened for any conditions that would prevent an MRI scan from being acquired. The mean age was 19.4±1.6 year (range: 18-24).

Table 1. Sample characteristics

Group A M sd Group B M sd

Age 18.9 0.64 20.2 2.03

CI-TTCT figural 114.29 5.22 83 11.47

fluency 103.29 19.63 78.2 17.43

originality 107.29 27.06 74.8 12.70

abstractness 118.71 18.35 84 25.39

elaboration 136.14 18.94 97.6 25.24

resistance to premature 105.86 9.69 80.2 10.52


4.2 Procedures

The fMRI task consisted of two blocked conditions: creative drawing imagery (CDI) and eye tracking (ET). In the CDI blocks as a task condition, participants were asked to draw figures in his mind while they were lying in MRI scanner based on the lines presented which were extracted from the TTCT figural form B that the participants had not conducted. In the ET as a control condition, they let their eyeballs track the lines presented repetitively. Each block's duration was 30 minutes and 6 CDI and 6 ET blocks were arranged with alternative manner.

The imaging was done by the 3T Magnetom Skyra MRI scanner (Siemens, Germany). A high-resolution T1-weighted 3-dimensional (3D) anatomical scan was also obtained using 3D magnetization-prepared rapid gradientecho (MPRAGE) sequence protocol with the parameters as follows: TR= 2300ms; TE=2.29 ms; FOV =240 mm2; flip angle =80 spatial resolution = 0.9x0.9x0.9 mm. The EPI pulse sequence parameters were TR/TE = 3000/30 ms; F0V=200 mm2; flip angle = 90°; spatial resolution= 2.0x2.0x5.0 mm

Images were realigned, spatially normalized, and smoothed (6-mm FWHM Gaussian kernel) with SPM8 (Wellcome Department of Cognitive Neurology, University College London) as a first level analysis for each individual. For the second-level group analyses, comparisons between conditions were made between creative drawing imagery and copying imagery conditions. Additionally, we did comparison between the two groups -Group A vs Group B.

5. Results and Short discussion

Group comparison revealed increased brain activities of group A (red colour) in left dorsal prefrontal (BA6), medial frontal (BA6), superior and middle temporal (BA 22/37), parahippocampal (BA 19), bilateral lingual gyri (BA17/18), left superior parietal lobule (BA 7) and cuneus (BA 18/19). On the other hand, in Group B (green colour), right prefrontal (BA 45/46), middle frontal (BA 6/8) and left angular gyri (BA 39) were more activated in neural recruitments of the brain.

(a) (b) (c)

Fig. 3.a-b-c= The comparison of Group A (red colour) and Group B (green colour)

With this preliminary study, we were able to find that left hemispheric brain areas - including prefrontal, posterior parietal and occipito-temporal cortices - were more recruited in the TTCT high score group, although in the two groups, the activation of prefrontal cortex, mainly implicated in working memory, temporal integration and sustained attention, was commonly observed. This may indicate that this network in left hemisphere tends to subserve creation of novel figures. This result appeared to be opposed to the traditional view assuming that creativity is in the right brain, which is believed to be exclusively responsible for divergent thinking. There has been a related study suggesting that creativity may be related to heightened activations in the left hemisphere (Fink & Grabner, et. al., 2009).

It does not follow, however, that the high level of creative divergent thinking abilities, measured mainly by the TTCT, is embodied through only the activation of the neural configuration in the left brain. Given that creativity is a natural component of human thought simultaneously dealing with novel ideas and ordinary problem situations, it appears to be natural that we need both hemispheres to be creative. Rather, as argued elsewhere (Sawyer, 2011; Wiggins & Bhattacharya, 2014: 5), a more specific question to be explored is this. Considering that the neuroscientific findings are meaningful only in statistical sense, which brain areas display statistically significant differential activation across the creative tasks? Since creativity is a complex and multi-integrative process involving many regions of the brain, more empirically systematic and rigorous studies to investigate the neurological base of creativity need to be conducted in a public manner for the sophistication of theory and the growth of knowledge in the field to advance.

For this purpose and future research, we will perform ROI (region of interest) analysis with voxels selected from group comparison by general linear model (GLM) analysis of TTCT fMRI and work on the resting state fMRI scanning data to make group comparison between group A and B. Additionally, voxel based morphometry (VBM) group comparison between two groups (A and B) will be carried out with high resolution T1 anatomical images of every participant of both groups.


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