Monday, April 8, 2013

The Fostering of Creative Genius: A Korean Study

As nations continue to compete for new products and services on an international scale there has been growing interest in “gifted” children and adults. A study by Cho & Lin (2011) helped to determine the factors involved in the development and encouragement of highly creative intellectually orientated people. Such individuals are more likely than others to become involved in math, science, or other artistic endeavors. Adjusting the fundamentals in education and business will offer opportunities to put such creative minds to effective use for individual, corporate, and national purposes.

The creative adult can solve problems that are hard to define and difficult to formalize. They have the ability to construct beyond current scientific discovery which means that others may have a hard time following their train of thought. Arthur Schopenhauer, a German Philosopher, believed that “Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.”  Such creative individuals seek out the novel in an attempt to master their environment.

Creativity is most effective displayed when problems are open-ended and ill-defined (Kaufman & Sternberg, 2007). Furthermore, such creativity becomes apparent when solutions are novel and useful to solving a particular problem (Runscio & Amabile, 1999). The result is that creativity is seen most apparently in new situations where previous constructs are not sufficient in defining the situation.

The use of cognitive thinking skills (divergent thinking,  general and specific knowledge and skills), affective (focus, task commitment, motivation, openness and tolerance) and environmental factors are necessary (Lubart, 1999). The factors of thinking, focus, and environmental factors all produce a result that is beneficial for the entire creative process. When any of these factors are out of place it is possible that the creative juices are lessened.

One of the biggest detractors to the success of creative individuals is the social environments in which they exist. Adolescent creativity is influenced by their perceptions of the social and psychological environment (Eccles, Midgley, et. al, 1993). When the environment is negative it will constrict their ability to explore avenues of problem solving due to social, economic and other forms of possible sanction.

A study conducted by Cho & Lin (2011) help to identify some of the factors that contribute to the success and failure of gifted individuals in Korean education.  The study used a variety of ages and grade levels to assess how these factors impact and correlate with each other. The participants were part of the Korean Olympians program which used brilliant students to engage in rigorous competitions and intellectual activities.

 Study 1 Methodology:  Study 1 engaged 846 scientifically talented students in various grades to assess psychological and environmental factors on creativity. The study identified the students based upon teacher recommendations, test scores on logical thinking, performance tests and creative problem solving in mathematics and science. 

Study 1 Results:  The results indicated that scientifically creative individuals scored high on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.  The students enjoyed solving complex problems and felt that their actions were going to be rewarded with internal satisfaction or external praise. Family involvement made a huge difference in their trust in intelligence abilities. As predictors of academic performance family involvement and personal characteristics has the most validity.

Study 2 Methodology: The second study attempted to draw a clearer distinction of motivation and environment by using only students who consistently scored high in academic performance. To fulfill this end 71 people who were either current or past graduates of gifted programs were entered into the study.  The same methodology as Study 1 applied to this elite subset of students.

Study 2 Results: The second group had similar scores as the first group but a wider range of results on psychological and environmental factors. Their intrinsic and extrinsic motivations were significantly higher while the family relationships and confidence in intelligences were only slightly higher than the first group. The relationships were associated by strength with confidence in intelligence, intrinsic motivation and finally family influence.

Analysis: The study helped highlight how the development of creative intelligence isn’t a simple one sided solution. The brain and its abilities are one factor but the motivation level of the individual and their environment are other factors that shouldn’t be ignored. Without the proper mix of motivation and environmental influences that support and encourage intelligent behavior the ability to identify such children will be limited as there will not be the right mix of elements to encourage them to perform. As nations seek to develop their best and brightest in an effort to gain competitive economic strength and succeed in their development they should take considerable care in developing those who are likely to contribute the most. This may mean adjusting the primary and secondary education systems to include critical thinking, exploration, experimentation, and personal development. Yet once these creative individuals leave school they should be placed with employers who can encourage them to solve complex market or scientific problems.

Cho, S. & Lin, C. (2011). Influence of family processes, motivation, and beliefs about intelligence on creative problem solving of scientifically talented individuals. Roeper Review, 33.

Eccles, et. al. (1993). Development during adolescence: the impact of stage-environment fit on young adolescents’ experiences in schools and in families. American Psychologist, 48.

Lubart, T. (1999). Componential models. In M.A. Runco & S. R. Pritzker (Eds.), Encyclopedia of creativity (Vol. 1). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Runscio, A. & Amabile, T. (1999). Effects of instructional styles on problem-solving creativity. Creativity Research Journal, 12.

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