Analytic and Creative Thinking

Students' Perceptions of What Stimulates Analytic and Creative Thinking

Principal Investigators:

  • Mark Gunty, Institutional Research
  • Sandra Gustafson, Department of English
  • Cecilia Lucero, Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning

Contacts: Mark Gunty, Mark.L.Gunty.4@nd.edu , Sandra Gustafson, sgustafs@nd.edu, Cecilia Lucero, lucero.5@nd.edu

This project began as a curiosity about what students are thinking when responding to the item on our Teacher and Course Evaluation (TCE) form asking them to rate how well "The instructor stimulates creative or analytical thinking."  Because that item has a strong correlation with students' overall evaluation of teaching, we decided to study students' beliefs about what characterizes creative and analytical thinking, as well as how such thinking is stimulated and stifled.  The project is very exploratory, since we are not assessing the effects of any teaching practice in particular.  We see two initial stages of the project, with further plans dependent on what is discovered initially.  The first stage consists of a series of focus groups, from which we will develop a set of additional questions for the TCEs.  The second will involve the use of those additional questions with a group of volunteer instructors to explore the finer points of student evaluation of creative or analytical thinking.

To date we have conducted three focus groups within regularly scheduled classes, seminars in sociology, chemistry, and first year writing.  Questions for the discussion are listed below.  Already some patterns are emerging, but the focus groups have not yet included engineering or business classes, so we are hesitant to infer much at this time.

  1. What are the two or three most important characteristics of creative thinking?  How do instructors stimulate creative thinking?  How do instructors stifle it?
  2. What are the two or three most important characteristics of analytical thinking?  How do instructors stimulate analytical thinking?  How do instructors stifle it?
  3. When you respond to Question #4 on the TCE ("The instructor stimulates creative or analytical thinking"), what qualities or behaviors do you think about when evaluating the instructor?