There are calls for schools and universities to increase their emphasis on teaching creativity, as new research shows it is a core competency across all disciplines and critical for ensuring future job success.
The study – by the University of South Australia, in partnership with visiting PhD researcher Kim van Broekhoven from Maastricht University in the Netherlands – surveyed 2,277 German undergraduate students aged 17-37 (2,147 enrolled in STEM courses; and 130 enrolled in art courses), to explore how creativity differed in terms of self-expression thoughts and perceptions.
International expert in creativity and innovation, UniSA’s Professor David Cropley, said the research found that creativity in STEM is very similar to creativity in the arts, indicating that a holistic approach to teaching creativity in schools and universities, would benefit all.
“The big change for education systems would be moving away from a rather fragmented and haphazard approach to teaching creativity, to a much more holistic and integrated approach,” Professor Cropley said.
“To prepare the next generation for the future, we need to understand the gaps in the market – the human skills that computers, artificial intelligence and automation cannot achieve – and this is where creativity fits”.
Professor Cropley said that until the release of the study, it wasn’t known whether creativity in STEM was the same as creativity in anything, or if there was something unique about creativity in STEM.
“If creativity was different in STEM – that is, it involved special attitudes or abilities – then we’d need to teach STEM students differently to develop their creativity,” he said.
“As it turns out, creativity is general in nature – it is essentially a multi-faceted competency that involves similar attitudes, disposition, skills and knowledge, all transferrable from one situation to another”.
Professor Cropley said this means students will share an openness to new ideas, divergent thinking, and a sense of flexibility, whether they’re in art, maths or engineering.
“This is great news for teachers, who can now confidently embrace and integrate heightened levels of creativity across their curriculum for the benefit of all students – whether STEM or arts based”.