The modern world is a fast-paced and competitive environment, and success in all areas of expertise now requires creativity. Today’s higher education institutions often emphasize the importance of innovation and creativity. So, how can we foster these skills in students? In their 2009 study, Reimers-Hild and James W King identified enjoyable, imaginative, varied, cooperative, and intuitive elements that make up an invention. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to take small steps, but also to provide support and encouragement. Taking risks and even viewing failure as “fuel for invention” can help advance this process. If something doesn’t work out, we can learn from it and try again.
Being creative means generating new and relevant ideas. The successful application of those ideas is what constitutes innovation.
Risk-taking is essential to creating an innovative and creative environment, but it is often overlooked in teaching strategies. To encourage risk-taking:
- Create a secure setting that fosters experimentation with new ideas and allows for improvement
- Offer second chances and acknowledge that making mistakes is okay
- Challenge yourself by stepping outside of your comfort zone, and at the end of the year, don’t be afraid to get rid of everything and start over
- Ask other professors what has worked for them and what hasn’t
2. Pose open-ended questions
Another effective teaching strategy is to ask open-ended questions. These types of questions lack predetermined solutions, allowing for multiple responses and perspectives. When educators pose open-ended questions, they can inspire innovative thinking, encourage engaging discussions, and promote leadership qualities. Additionally, this technique can help students discover potential they were previously unaware of and draw connections to their own lives, other stories, or real-world events.
3. Implement the design-thinking process
The design thinking process is a set of organized techniques for identifying problems, gathering data, generating ideas, refining them, and testing solutions. This method consists of five stages: creativity, experimentation, evolution, and interpretation.
Students and educators can use the following method for each phase:
- Identify the problem: How do I go about it?
- Gather information: What do I make of it now?
- Explore possibilities: What might I create?
- Refine ideas: How do I construct it?
- Test solutions: How do I enable it to evolve?
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4. Active Learning
Engage students in active learning strategies that promote creativity and innovation. Some academics produce games, idea maps, songs, and study aids. When a student is in a situation from which they cannot simply escape, learning occurs.
Here are some practical suggestions for adding more active learning to teaching:
- Provide opportunities for interaction that involve a lot of hands-on learning and problem-solving during class.
- Encourage students to engage in practical fieldwork by taking them out of their familiar surroundings and situations.
- Facilitate a roundtable conversation with students.
- Ask students to respond to questions like, “What is the evidence?” and “Do they agree or disagree, and why?” to encourage critical thinking.
- Give students the opportunity to develop a few exam questions.
5. Use problem-solving
Educators can assist students in developing a new perspective of the world by using problem-solving to identify gaps that need to be filled. Problem discovery and problem-finding are the same thing. Problem-finding can be used as a component of a larger problem-solving process that includes problem-shaping. To uncover potential gaps or additions that are critical, problem-solving requires both intellectual rigor and creative imagination. By using this tactic, educators can provide students with opportunities to think critically, ask probing questions, and use innovative problem-solving techniques.
All of these serve as ways to encourage innovation and creativity in the classroom. Educators can start with a new project and observe how it goes with their students as they continually revise, learn, and build. Innovation is essential in today’s schools, and educators can begin the shift by embracing it.