Creative Solutions and their Evaluation: Comparing the Effects of Explanation and Argumentation Tasks on Student Reflections

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Andria Andiliou
Pricilla Karen Murphy


Creative problem solving which results in novel and effective ideas or products is most advanced when learners can analyze, evaluate, and refine their ideas to improve creative solutions.  The purpose of this investigation was to examine creative problem solving performance in undergraduate students and determine the tasks that support critical self-evaluations of creative solutions by comparing alternative types of reflective tasks. Participants (n = 103) first provided demographic information and responded to individual difference measures (i.e., divergent thinking, need for cognition, and beliefs about creative outcomes) and then read a problem scenario in which they assumed the role of a high school teacher who was asked to design a creative college preparatory course.  Following, participants completed either an explanation reflective task or an argument based reflective task.  Finally, participants evaluated their proposed course by rating it on characteristics that describe the originality and effectiveness of creative solutions. Findings confirmed the role of divergent thinking as a positive predictor of the originality of a creative solution, whereas, need for cognition, and academic major were positive predictors of the effectiveness of a creative solution.  Participants rated their creative solutions differentially depending on their beliefs and the type of reflective task.  Those whose beliefs aligned better with conceptualizations of creative outcomes assessed more positively the originality and effectiveness of their solution.  The findings indicate that the argumentation task could potentially promote reflective and critical thinking about a creative solution as participants who completed the argumentation task evaluated their solution more conservatively.

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How to Cite
Andiliou, A., & Murphy, P. K. (2014). Creative Solutions and their Evaluation: Comparing the Effects of Explanation and Argumentation Tasks on Student Reflections. Frontline Learning Research, 2(3), 92–114.
Author Biographies

Andria Andiliou, Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture

Andria Andiliou is a PhD graduate in Educational Psychology from the Pennsylvania State University. Her research interests include the role of teacher and student beliefs in teaching, learning, and the importance and development of higher order thinking including conceptual change and creativity. She has served as an instructional and assessment consultant at the Schreyer Institute of Teaching Excellence conducting graduate student and faculty professional development and holds a special interest in the process of designing and evaluating teaching and research e-portfolios. She returned to the teaching position she held before earning her doctorate and she is currently applying for positions in higher education institutions.

Pricilla Karen Murphy, Professor of Education Department of Educational Psychology, Counseling and Special Education The Pennsylvania State University

Dr. Murphy holds appointments in the Department of Educational and School Psychology and Special Education and the Children, Youth, and Families Consortium and is Co-Director of the Center for Educational and Developmental Sciences. Her research focuses on the role of students' knowledge and beliefs in the comprehension of oral and written language. Specifically, Dr. Murphy's research involves the investigation of processes underlying students' abilities to read and understand a text, to critically examine and evaluate the information presented, and to make reasoned judgments as a result of reading. Her ongoing projects involve the use of classroom discussions to promote critical-analytic thinking and reasoning in classrooms. She is an outgoing Associate Editor of Learning and Instruction, Europe's flagship educational research journal, serves on several other editorial boards, and has authored or co-authored numerous publications in outlets like the Journal of Educational Psychology, Contemporary Educational Psychology, and the Educational Researcher.


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