Teaching the Creative Process

Posted on Jun 16, 2013 by Adobe Education Latest activity: Dec 29, 2013

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The creative process has many forms, but most have these general steps in common:

  1. Framing or identifying the problem, question or challenge to solve;
  2. Gathering information about it;
  3. Providing time to incubate the material;
  4. Exploring variations of existing ideas and generating new ones;
  5. Filtering, ranking or combining ideas to find the best candidates;
  6. Elaborating and refining the solution; and,
  7. Communicating and receiving feedback.

How many of these steps do you already follow in your classroom projects? In what ways? What other steps do you take?

This discussion post is part of the Adobe Education Exchange Professional Development workshop, Creativity in Today’s Classrooms: Designing Creativity in the Upper Grades Curriculum.

Comments (5)

Ella Park

Posted on Dec 29, 2013 2:17 PM - Permalink

I teach graphic design at a career tech high school. Five different schools from very different social economic backgrounds with grades 9-12 come together. This year I have taken on more real world projects. We took on a project recently with our district concerning the web and icons. They wanted to use the students as a inspiration/focus group. Step one was explaining the project and making list of icon images. It is always a struggle to get them to first start with sketches. They want jump on the computer too soon. I started to see some trends in icon ideas but needed more input from my contact person at the district on where and how these icons would be used. After that meeting the director liked two main ideas and wanted to start a "conversation" with the students and define the problem and asking more why questions. How do I best facilitate that? I'm thinking my next step is to develop a set of questions or have them write them, and have them work in groups. I'm figuring it out as I go and I suppose the is part of what the design process is about, play.

Wyn Pottinger

Posted on Oct 17, 2013 5:51 AM - Permalink

I've found that most students (I teach high school classes, and a single middle school class) require some scaffolding to reach the steps listed above. Engaging them in the learning is very different than educating teachers, like the list above attempts to outline. Each of these points is valid, but not to be read by students. Using activities (even games). prompts, modeling (I talk aloud of what I would do to solve a design challenge), small/strategic tasks, listing, sketching...and more...it is possible to nudge students into thinking and creating like designers and commercial artists. Creativity can be a learned process that becomes a very valuable skill, for everyone.

Colleen Velasquez

Posted on Aug 17, 2013 11:15 PM - Permalink

I have used these steps before, but currently I'm going through a creativity crisis. I had one project I thought went very well where the students were asked where cinnamon came from. They were asked what we might do if our resources for spices dried up. This leads into the study of the Age of Exploration. Students researched the locations of spices that we value. They discussed their findings in small groups and created plans for what might happen if it was difficult to get the spices. The small groups then presented their plans to the class and we voted on the best solutions.

Phyllis Kaupp Seas

Posted on Aug 10, 2013 9:50 PM - Permalink

Saddled with the task of teaching Business Law in HS, and never having had taught the course prior, recognized how boring this course could become with just discussing the laws as they were book presented. Instead, I located Business Law "playbooks" for court room dramas, and divided the class members into groups for the different types of Laws, insuring each student had their very own part for total activity of all class members. The first such court room drama played as one would expect, pretty much by the script. But, by the time the second group started theirs, surprise witnesses began to appear with scripts the students had written themselves. And as the groups continued with their activities, expert witnesses showed up, robes, and hairpieces begain to appear; some were performed in early America type styles, and the class became the "hit" of the semester for the HS. As a matter of fact, students would get passes from some of their other classes when they knew some of their fellow classmates would be on the stand, and stand in the doorway of the classroom for "audience support". At the end of the year, my students scored higher on the exam for business Law than the other two teachers classes, (both of whom had been teaching the classes before). I found it quite satisfying that the students were researching "additional business laws" outside the classroom to introduce in class, and get the "defense" riled to verify the authencity of such laws when they were to present; many would object on different topics they found relevant, and of course, the "JUDGE" had to be on his/her game to know how to handle things....and if they did not know at the moment, they would call a "recess until the next day" so they could get up to speed.

Needless to say, this for me was one of the most creative classes I've taught, and one of the most satisfying for the students and for myself alike. We all learned in collaboration together during the semester.

marcia blanco

Posted on Jul 23, 2013 2:24 PM - Permalink

Im not sure if I unconsciously do any of these or not but it may have just highlighted why teaching this has felt so obtuse, so hit and miss for me in the classroom. I do a lot of PBL but there has always been a bit of a disconnect. I hope that this helps. I like the structure of it. It gives that framework that I think I am missing.