Education ForumScience Education

Teaching Creative Science Thinking

Science  16 Dec 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6062, pp. 1499-1500
DOI: 10.1126/science.1207918

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Scientists frequently encounter ill-structured problems that can have multiple paths to multiple solutions (1). To approach such problems, “higher-order” mental operations such as analysis, synthesis, and abstraction are key. But, in addition, creative thinking—the most complex and abstract of the higher-order cognitive skills according to Bloom's taxonomy of learning skills (2)—can allow restructuring of problems and produce solutions through unexpected insights (3). Creativity is the root of the innovative thinking that leads to solutions or products that are novel, useful (4), and critical to economic success (5, 6). I discuss below how students might be taught to think more creatively in the context of science, and how instructors can focus more on students' creative thinking, in addition to scientific reasoning and subject-matter content (7).