Prompting Socially Shared Regulation of Learning and Creativity in Solving STEM Problems
ABSTRACT: Problem-based learning (PBL) is a widely recommended method in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education through which students develop their scientific knowledge by collaboratively solving real-world problems. PBL benefits from both the activation of creative thinking and from socially shared regulation of learning (SSRL)-a group-level phenomenon whereby students collectively share common perceptions of their collaborative learning process and co-construction of knowledge. The current study examines the influence of three types of support (question prompts designed to promote SSRL, creative thinking, or a combination of both) on the participation of individuals in SSRL processes and on their knowledge acquisition, using a sample of 104 seventh-graders in accelerated science classes. Individuals' participation through the different stages of SSRL (forethought, performance, and reflection) was assessed using video recordings, and their scientific knowledge was measured through pre-and post-intervention knowledge tests. While all groups improved their scientific knowledge, individuals receiving only SSRL support improved their participation in most stages of SSRL compared with those receiving creativity or combined support, and a control group which received no support. The findings strengthen the case for SSRL-directed question prompts as a means to enhance student engagement in problem-solving tasks.
Project description:Stress and threats have been shown to influence our cognition and performance. In a preregistered online experiment (<i>N</i> = 446), we examined whether thinking about the ongoing covid-19 pandemic influences creative (insight problem solving) and analytic thinking. We found no support for our a-priori hypothesized effect (decrease in insight problem solving and no change in analytical thinking), however, several unpredicted results emerged. Exploratory analyses revealed that both types of thinking were harmed, yet only in men. Interestingly, the effect of exposure on thinking about covid-19 was indirect and led to careless task completion - again, only in men. We discuss these intriguing results and propose potential explanations along with future studies directions.
Project description:Use of open-ended Problem-Based Learning (PBL) in biology classrooms has been limited by the difficulty in designing problem scenarios such that the content learned in a course can be predicted and controlled, the lack of familiarity of this method of instruction by faculty, and the difficulty in assessment. Here we present the results of a study in which we developed a team-based interdisciplinary course that combined the fields of biology and civil engineering across three years. We used PBL scenarios as the only learning tool, wrote the problem scenarios, and developed the means to assess these courses and the results of that assessment. Our data indicates that PBL changed students' perception of their learning in content knowledge and promoted a change in students' learning styles. Although no statistically significant improvement in problem-solving skills and critical thinking skills was observed, students reported substantial changes in their problem-based learning strategies and critical thinking skills.
Project description:Creative cognition, defined as the generation of new yet appropriate ideas and solutions, serves important adaptive purposes. Here, we tested whether and how middle adolescence, characterized by transformations toward life independency and individuality, is a more profitable phase than adulthood for creative cognition. Behavioral and neural differences for creative problem solving in adolescents (15-17 years) and adults (25-30 years) were measured while performing a matchstick problem task (MPT) in the scanner and the creative ability test (CAT), a visuo-spatial divergent thinking task, outside the scanner. Overall performances were comparable, although MPT performance indicated an advantage for adolescents in creative problem solving. In addition, adolescents showed more activation in lateral prefrontal cortex (ventral and dorsal) during creative problem solving compared to adults. These areas correlated with performances on the MPT and the CAT performance. We discuss that extended prefrontal cortex activation in adolescence is important for exploration and aids in creative cognition.
Project description:Background:Schizotypy is a set of personality traits that resemble the signs and symptoms of schizophrenia in the general population, and it is associated with various subclinical mental health problems, including sleep disturbances. Additionally, dimensions of schizotypy show specific but weak associations with creativity. Given that creativity demands cognitive control and mental health, and that sleep disturbances negatively impact cognitive control, we predicted that positive, impulsive and disorganised schizotypy will demonstrate stronger associations with indicators of creativity, if the effect of mental health, insomnia, and intellect are statistically controlled. Methods:University students (N = 182) took part in the study. Schizotypy was assessed with the shortened Oxford-Liverpool Inventory of Feelings and Experiences (sO-LIFE). Creative achievements were measured with the Creative Achievement Questionnaire (CAQ), divergent thinking was assessed with the 'Just suppose' task, and remote association problem solving was tested with Compound Remote Associate (CRA) problems. Mental health was assessed with the 12-item version of the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12), and insomnia was examined with the Athens Insomnia Scale (AIS). Verbal short term memory was measured with the forward digit span task, and intellect was assessed with the Rational-Experiential Inventory (REI). Multiple linear regressions were performed to examine the relationship between creativity and schizotypy. Indicators of creativity were the dependent variables. In the first block, dimensions of schizotypy, age, gender and smoking were entered, and in the second block, the models were extended with mental health, insomnia, verbal short term memory, and intellect. Results:Positive schizotypy positively predicted real-life creative achievements, independently from the positive effect of intellect. Follow-up analyses revealed that positive schizotypy predicted creative achievements in art, while higher disorganised schizotypy was associated with creative achievements in science (when intellect was controlled for). Furthermore, disorganised schizotypy positively predicted remote association problem solving performance, if insomnia and verbal short term memory were statistically controlled. No dimension of schizotypy was significantly associated with divergent thinking. Discussion:In line with previous findings, positive schizotypy predicted real-life creative achievements. The positive effects of disorganised schizotypy might be explained in terms of the simultaneous involvement of enhanced semantic priming and cognitive control in problem solving. We speculate that the lack of associations between divergent thinking and schizotypy might be related to instruction effects. Our study underscores the relevance of sleep impairment to the psychosis-spectrum, and refines our knowledge about the adaptive aspects of schizotypy in the general population.
Project description:Both research and practical experience in education support the use of case studies in the classroom to engage students and develop critical thinking skills. In particular, working through case studies in scientific disciplines encourages students to incorporate knowledge from a variety of backgrounds and apply a breadth of information. While it is recognized that critical thinking is important for student success in professional school and future careers, a specific strategy to tackle a novel problem is lacking in student training. We have developed a four-step systematic approach to solving case studies that improves student confidence and provides them with a definitive road map that is useful when solving any novel problem, both in and out of the classroom. This approach encourages students to define unfamiliar terms, create a timeline, describe the systems involved, and identify any unique features. This method allows students to solve complex problems by organizing and applying information in a logical progression. We have incorporated case studies in anatomy and neuroanatomy courses and are confident that this systematic approach will translate well to courses in various scientific disciplines.
Project description:Creativity is pivotal to solving complex problems of many kinds, yet how cognitive flexibility dynamically supports creative processes is largely unexplored. Despite being a crucial multi-faceted contributor in creative thinking, cognitive flexibility, as typically assessed, does not fully capture how people adaptively shift between varying or persisting in their current problem-solving efforts. To fill this theoretical and methodological gap, we introduce a new operationalization of cognitive flexibility: the process-based Self-Guided Transition (SGT) measures, which assess when participants autonomously choose to continue working on one of two concurrently presented items (dwell length) and how often they choose to switch between the two items (shift count). We examine how these measures correlate with three diverse creativity tasks, and with creative performance on a more complex "garden design" task. Analyses of the relations between these new cognitive flexibility measures in 66 young adults revealed that SGT dwell length positively correlated with creative performance across several tasks. The SGT shift count positively correlated with within-task performance for a two-item choice task tapping divergent thinking (Alternative Uses Task) but not for a two-item choice task calling on convergent thinking (Anagram task). Multiple regression analyses revealed that, taken together, both the shift count and dwell length measures from the Alternative Uses Task explained a significant proportion of variance in measures of fluency, and originality, on a composite measure of the three independently-assessed creative tasks. Relations of SGTs to the Garden Design task were weaker, though shift count on the Alternative Uses Task was predictive of a composite measure of overall Garden Design quality. Taken together, these results highlight the promise of our new process-based measures to better chart the dynamically flexible processes supporting creative thinking and action.
Project description:The beneficial effects of regular physical activity (PA) on cognitive functions have received much attention. Recent research suggests that regular PA may also enhance creative thinking, an indispensable cognitive factor for invention and innovation. However, at what intensity regular PA brings the most benefits to creative thinking remains uninvestigated. Furthermore, whether the levels of regular PA affect the acute PA effects on creative thinking is also unclear. In the present study, using a previous dataset that investigated the effects of an acute bout of aerobic exercise on creative thinking in healthy Japanese young adults (22.98 ± 1.95 years old) in the year 2020, we tested the association between different intensities of regular PA (i.e., vigorous, moderate, and walking) and creative thinking with the cross-sectional baseline data using multiple linear regression. We also investigated whether regular PA levels were associated with the acute aerobic exercise intervention effects on creative thinking. The results showed that cross-sectionally, the regular PAs were differentially associated with divergent but not convergent thinking. Specifically, whereas the amount of vigorous-intensity PA was positively associated with fluency and flexibility, the amount of walking was positively associated with novelty on the alternate uses test (AUT) measuring divergent thinking. Importantly, the explained variances of fluency, flexibility, and novelty were 20.3% (<i>p</i> = 0.040), 18.8% (<i>p</i> = 0.055), and 20.1% (<i>p</i> = 0.043), respectively. None of the regular PAs predicted convergent thinking (i.e., an insight problem-solving task), nor were they associated with the acute aerobic exercise intervention effects on divergent and convergent thinking. These findings suggest that engaging in regular vigorous-intensity PA and walking may be useful strategies to enhance different aspects of divergent thinking in daily life.
Project description:Many science educators agree that 21st century students need to develop mature scientific thinking skills. Unsurprisingly, students' and experts' perceptions about the nature of scientific knowledge differ. Moreover, students' naïve and entrenched epistemologies can preclude their development toward "thinking like scientists." Novel teaching approaches that guide students toward more mature perceptions may be needed to support their development of scientific thinking skills. To address such issues, physics educators developed the Colorado Learning Attitudes About Science Survey (CLASS), subsequently adapted for chemistry and biology. These surveys are "designed to compare novice and expert perceptions about the content and structure of a specific discipline; the source of knowledge about that discipline, including connection of the discipline to the real world; and problem-solving approaches" (Semsar et al., CBE Life Sci. Educ. 10:268-278; p 269). We used CLASS-Bio to track students' perceptions of science in separate first-year and upper-level CREATE (Consider, Read, Elucidate hypotheses, Analyze and interpret the data, Think of the next Experiment) electives, hypothesizing that perceptions would become significantly more expert-like across a semester. Both first-year and upper-level cohorts made significant expert-like shifts. Students also made significant critical thinking gains in CREATE courses. Our findings of more mature, expert-like perceptions of science post-course contrast with those of previous studies, where students' thinking became significantly less expert-like across a term of introductory instruction and changed little in upper-level biology electives. Augmenting traditional biology curricula with CREATE courses could be an economical way to help undergraduates develop more mature views of science.
Project description:Creativity is an essential cognitive ability linked to all areas of our everyday functioning. Thus, finding a way to enhance it is of broad interest. A large number of anecdotal reports suggest that the consumption of psychedelic drugs can enhance creative thinking; however, scientific evidence is lacking. Following a double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group design, we demonstrated that psilocybin (0.17 mg/kg) induced a time- and construct-related differentiation of effects on creative thinking. Acutely, psilocybin increased ratings of (spontaneous) creative insights, while decreasing (deliberate) task-based creativity. Seven days after psilocybin, number of novel ideas increased. Furthermore, we utilized an ultrahigh field multimodal brain imaging approach, and found that acute and persisting effects were predicted by within- and between-network connectivity of the default mode network. Findings add some support to historical claims that psychedelics can influence aspects of the creative process, potentially indicating them as a tool to investigate creativity and subsequent underlying neural mechanisms. Trial NL6007; psilocybin as a tool for enhanced cognitive flexibility; https://www.trialregister.nl/trial/6007 .
Project description:People produce more episodic details when imagining future events and solving means-end problems after receiving an episodic-specificity induction-brief training in recollecting details of a recent event-than after receiving a control induction not focused on episodic retrieval. Here we show for the first time that an episodic-specificity induction also enhances divergent creative thinking. In Experiment 1, participants exhibited a selective boost on a divergent-thinking task (generating unusual uses of common objects) after a specificity induction compared with a control induction; by contrast, performance following the two inductions was similar on an object association task thought to involve little divergent thinking. In Experiment 2, we replicated the specificity-induction effect on divergent thinking using a different control induction, and also found that participants performed similarly on a convergent-thinking task following the two inductions. These experiments provide novel evidence that episodic memory is involved in divergent creative thinking.