Finding Common Ground – a Disciplinary Approach to Creativity

DS 69: Proceedings of E&PDE 2011, the 13th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, London, UK, 08.-09.09.2011

Year: 2011
Editor: Kovacevic, Ahmed, Ion, William, McMahon, Chris, Buck, Lyndon and Hogarth, Peter
Author: Askland, Hedda Haugen; Williams, Anthony; Ostwald, Michael J
Series: E&PDE
Section: Creativity in Design Education
Page(s): 127-132


Centuries of research into the question of creativity in the fields of philosophy, psychology and sociology have led to multiple theories and definitions of the concept of creativity. Similarly, the more recent study of design creativity has seen a variation of definitions emerge. Nonetheless, confusion remains as to exactly what ‘design creativity’ means, and ambiguity and vagueness exist both in the context of the overall design discipline and in the field of design research. This ambiguity has serious implications for design education and training, leading to the question: how do we teach creativity if we do not have a clear understanding of what creativity is? Both staff and students express frustration and stress in relation to the creative component of their work (Bachman & Bachman 2006; Ostwald and Williams 2008), and there is an apparent need to arrive at some disciplinary agreement as to what creativity is in relation to design and to develop a pedagogical framework for teaching and assessing creativity.

At a recent meeting with leading researchers in the field of design creativity, it was asked whether or not it is at all possible to arrive at a disciplinary agreement on the question of creativity. It was suggested that much of the divergence that exist is the result of different disciplinary requirement, and that the continuous relevance of these requirements inhibits any efforts of arriving at a disciplinary definition of the concept. This paper challenges this assumption and aims at illustrating how a sense of consensus exists behind the veil of linguistic complexity. It aims at illustrating how, in their differences, contemporary perceptions of creativity provide an overarching definition of design creativity within which disciplinary variation may exist. The paper is based on an extensive literature review, as well as interviews with over 40 senior design academics. It forms part of the ongoing Australian Teaching and Learning (ALTC) funded project Assessing Creativity: Strategies and Tools to Support Teaching and Learning in Architecture and Design.

Keywords: Creativity, design, approach


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