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The Effectiveness of Teaching Creative Problem Solving (CPS) in Changing Students’ Behaviour in University Design Courses in Indonesia

Dewi Susanti
Ka Yee Man
Ferdinand Indrajaya

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The need for critical thinking and creativity in higher education has been emphasized by UNESCO (1998). While some universities have already recognized the need to teach creativity (Xu, McDonnell & Nash, 2005), creativity is not yet commonly taught in Indonesian universities. Research has shown that creativity can be taught and that creativity training can be effective (Parnes & Noller, 1972; Rose & Lin (1984)). Some training approaches are more effective than others, specifically approaches that “focus on the development of cognitive skills and the heuristics involved in skill application” (Scott, Leritz & Mumford, 2004) of which Creative Problem Solving (CPS) is an example.
     Up until 2004, the Indonesian national curriculum for elementary and secondary education did not focus on active learning and the development of creative thinking skills in students. Rather, the emphasis was on a didactic approach to teaching. From their teaching experience at the university level, the authors (Susanti & Indrajaya) feel that there is a gap between university curricula and the lack of creative thinking skills possessed by students. Lack of creative thinking skills and blocks to creative thinking hinder students especially in design courses, where they are challenged to think independently to solve design problems and come up with creative design solutions.
     This study has two aims. The first is to investigate the relative effectiveness – defined as an increase in students’ problem-solving behaviour – of three different approaches that were used to teach creative thinking in design courses. They revolve around three variables: duration (number of hours of instruction), format (content embedded versus content excluded; single versus multiple sessions), and type of instructor (external trainer versus course instructor).
     Studies on effects of teaching creativity have been mainly conducted in the non-Indonesian environment. Thus the second purpose of this study is to investigate whether the teaching of creative thinking can be as effectively taught in the Indonesian environment as has been previously demonstrated in studies conducted in the non-Indonesian environment.
     For this study, the Creative Problem Solving (CPS) method (Osborn, 2001) was used to teach creative thinking. Three groups of university students were taught CPS and a post-training survey is currently being conducted to investigate which of the three approaches to teaching creative thinking was more effective and whether problem-solving behaviour changed after CPS training. If problem-solving behaviour didn’t change after CPS training, what were the inhibitors?

Author Bio(s)

Dewi Susanti
Dewi earned her M.Arch. degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and her B.F.A. degree from Massachusetts College of Art. She has taught architecture at the University of Indonesia (2002-2004), where she won a teaching grant from the Quality for Undergraduate Education programme sponsored by the World Bank, and at Universitas Pelita Harapan (2004-present). Apart from teaching design studio, she works as a Creative Director in Art Explore, where she designs programs to develop creative thinking habits in children.

Ka Yee Man
Ka Yee Man co-runs an organization in Jakarta, Indonesia, which aims to teach creativity to as wide a community as possible. She has taught creativity to young children, high school and higher education students, and professionals (both in the education sector and commercial sector). Ka Yee received her BSc(Hons) in Management and Systems from City University, London and her MSc in Organizational Behaviour from the University of London. Ka Yee has a Graduate Certificate in Creativity and Change Leadership and is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Creative Studies at the International Center for Studies of Creativity of the State University of New York.

Ferdinand Indrajaya
Ferdinand has worked in visual communication since 1997 and has been an illustrator for various Arts & Lifestyle magazines in Indonesia. In 1998 he started to get involved in education by assisting and later teaching classes in the field of typography and visual communication design at Trisakti University, where he graduated. Currently he is also teaching at Universitas Pelita Harapan and Art Explore creative studio for the young.