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[edit] Introduction

Current post-secondary educational systems are split between college and university, these institutions foster creativity differently through theoretical versus practical based learning. Creativity can be difficult to concretely define as it can be seen as process, ability or attitude. Both institutions have separate co-op programs which help develop individual creativity whether it be internships in university or apprenticeship in college. The evidence is used in a working example comparing the practical nursing program at Niagara College to the registered nursing program at Brock University. Creativity should be looked at further in the educational system and will nurture success in graduates in order to be ready for the workforce.

[edit] Creative Thinking

According to, [1] the traditional definitions of creativity include:

  1. The ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations (i.e., originality, progressiveness, or imagination);
  2. The process by which one utilizes creative ability

Creativity is a way of perceiving, understanding and applying different than others [2]. In the education system, creativity is desired, yet not encouraged in students. Instead, some suggest that creativity is being neglected and that the current “transmission and acquisition” standard model of learning should be abolished or rebuilt [3]. This standard model of education suggests that classrooms transmit mass amounts of information to students and students are later then obligated to memorize and reiterate the information in examination form [3]. Beghetto & Kaufman[3] conclude by suggesting that this deficit in creativity is ultimately why students fail to reach their full potential. This is concerning because as society, we stress that education is very important, but if it is stopping some student’s from reaching their full potential, what should we do about it?

[edit] What is Creativity?

Creativity can be seen as a process, an ability and/or attitude. [4] he process of creativity involves innovation and working towards improving current ideas and solutions. The process of creativity is a long process with trial and error, but having an optimistic attitude is what allows for this process to be ongoing. Attitudes of the creative person include: curiousity, perceiving problems as acceptable challenges, finding solutions to setbacks, seeing need for improvement, optimism, unbiased opinion, seeing obstacles as leading to improvements and solutions, determination, and imagination [5]. The ability to be creative is the combination of a process and attitude.

[edit] The Decline Of Creativity

If we look at infant children, they have the ability to day dream, to be artistic and to ask many, many questions. As adults, the ability to be creative is diminished steadily as we age, perhaps because of the increasing tendency for academics to push into being critical thinkers. The attitude of creativity is positive and optimistic, and is consistently driven by motivation of thinking outside of the conventional box. More specifically, in order for one to be creative, they must possess knowledge of creativity, the attitude, and the ability to express the creative process.

[edit] Cognitive Style And Creativity

Martinsen & Kauffmann suggest that creativity is based on one’s cognition style, or consistent individual differences in the ways people experience, perceive, organize and process information[6]. Cognition as a concept includes perception, memory, language, learning, thinking, problem solving, and creativity. Cognitive styles of individuals can differ, and this difference is what accounts for the lack of, or the surplus, of creativity in individuals [6].

[edit] Characteristics of the Creative Person

In 1996 Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi wrote an article discussing 10 traits of the creative person. He summarizes these traits by stating that, "show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. They contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an ‘individual’, each of them is a ‘multitude’.” [7].

More specifically, other researchers have found important characteristics that professors who teach creative courses have found in creative people; they are as follows [8]:

  • Imagination and resourcefulness
  • Openness
  • Inquisitiveness/curiousity
  • Intuition and insight
  • Tolerance for ambiguity
  • Independence
  • Innovation
  • Problem finding

[edit] Creative Thinking And Critical Thinking

According to E. Paul Torrance [9], creative thinking can be defined as “the process of sensing gaps, or disturbing missing elements; forming ideas concerning them, testing these hypotheses; and communicating the results, possibly modifying and retesting the hypotheses”. Essentially, he suggests that creative thinking is a wide range process that involves that questions previous assumptions and either building on them, or correcting them correctly; that there is no single answer or solution.

On the other hand, thinking critically involves the process of gathering information, questions and answers are analytically evaluated. This kind of thinking is found in most current academic settings, where the ability to know the material and reiterated is what classifies a successful student.

Critical Thinking

  • Analytic
  • Convergent
  • Vertical
  • Probability
  • Judgement
  • Focused
  • Objective
  • Answer
  • Left brain
  • Verbal
  • Linear
  • Reasoning
  • Yes but

Creative Thinking

  • Generative
  • Divergent
  • Lateral
  • Possibility
  • Suspended judgement
  • Diffuse
  • Subjective
  • An answer
  • Right brain
  • Visual
  • Associative
  • Novelty
  • Yes and

[edit] Creative and Critical Thinking In School

Both types are used in educational systems in different ways. In post-secondary settings, critical thinking and creative thinking are both used, especially if one decides to particpate in a co-op program that requires an internship or apprenticeship.

[edit] Internships and Apprenticeships

[edit] Internships

Internships are considered on the job training experiences between the student and their employers. During the course of the internships the student can have either a paid or unpaid experience. [10] The primary placements for internships are usually at white collar locations (lawyers officers, research labs, political buildings, etc). [10] During the course of an internship the student can use the experience to their advantage. Interns can determine whether the routes they are going down for their career is what they truly want to do, they can network and gain experiences that are vital for their future employment. [10]

There are several different types of internships, primarily those that are work-based and research based. These are for university students who are seeking a graduate school position or PhD). [11] Those that are work based are primarily where the student gains a position at the location they applied and had to learn the job while they are working for the employer. [11]

Internships lack the creativity of apprenticeships because internships are primarily carried out in a specific guideline. [12] The intern isn't able to be very creative because the business they are working for has a certain standard of work that they want and can possibly even frown on innovation because its outside of their respective standard that everyone else has to follow. This type of on the job training is rather inflexible, where as those who are in apprenticeships are motivated to be creative because what works for one person may not particularly work for the next person.


[edit] Apprenticeships

An apprenticeship is a college-based hands on learning environment where those who are attending college are given employment, a steady paycheck, and are receiving specialized training at the same time. [13] These apprenticeships are usually trade skill-based (such as electrician, plumber, welder) and give the student the specialized training to branch out into their respective field once their college career and apprenticeship requirements are fulfilled after their on-the-job training is completed. [13] Apprenticeships are primarily for the students benefit because the employer who is giving the individual the apprenticeship has to give them the adequate training during the course of this period so that once the apprenticeship is completed several years down the road the student can then go and take the skills that they learned during this time and apply them to their new trade. [13]

Creativity is fostered in these situations because college student are used to innovation and problem solving. [14] Those in a university setting are used to following a specific set of guidelines while getting a task done. [12] In apprenticeships the teacher may have their own method for performing a certain task and these can easily vary from individual to individual as each trade has its own specific steps that need to be carried out and these can easily be passed on to the student. [14] These problem solving abilities are important because every situation they come across down the road may be different and have unpredictable characteristics that cause them to make quick decisions that they may not have faced during their apprenticeship with their employer. [14]


[edit] Comparisons

  • Internships are primarily university positions that are research or work based that can be either paid or unpaid depending on the position. These positions are usually white collar positions. [10] Apprenticeships are hands on based skills learning experience for students who are looking to branch out into a trade after their college experience is over. [13] Internships are considered on the job training for university students looking at a white collar job (usually in an office setting). [10] Each of these has their own rewards such as preparing both of the students for their future careers whether it be as a plumber, electrician, politician, etc. Each has its own unique learning environment that can be adaptive and flexible (apprenticeships) or it can be rather rigid and straight forward (Internships)when it comes to problem solving situations that the person may be facing.

[edit] Which Post-Secondary Institutions Fosters more Creativity?

Researchers can argue that college equips people with specialized skills whereas university is the place people go to get the theoretical knowledge[15]. However the psychology of creativity argues that different types of creativity are domain specific [16] . Creativity can be seen as a broad category and creativity may be fostered differently in university compared to college. [16] Marquis and Vajoczki (2012) found in a questionnaire on the definition of creativity that individuals have different perceptions on the broad term and even suggested that traditional post-secondary school settings can only go so far in developing creativity. [16]

In the Cambridge Handbook of Creativity the authors discuss how various gifted individuals in history were too unconventional for traditional school settings [17]. Many gifted children reported that their creativity was restricted by the school system such as Steve Jobs who dropped out of university and creative one of the most successful computer businesses.[17]. It has been the mission for the Government of Ontario to provide new ways students can gain valuable work experience and skills outside of the classroom.[18]. More improvements the government needs to make in the education system are creative a variety of options at succeeding in transferring skills learning from school back into the workplace. [18]

[edit] Is Creativity Personality Dependent?

According to a summary of research the only way in which we can nurture innovative thinkers in our schools is guided to a field of study that matches with their personality, for example a business student may find themselves scoring higher in extraversion than a student studying physics on a personality test [19]. More research should be done to determine more about the personality traits that may contribute to domain specific creativity and how to nurture these abilities. [20]

Some jobs will always be preferred in a 'university type' setting compared to a college education such as a doctor, however occupations such as child care worker show more economic success at a college level compared to a university level education. [18] Although some disciplines in college aim towards services both levels of education offer to the diverse range creative attributes needed in the Canadian workforce that can acquire comfortable incomes in the future. [20]

[edit] Working Example of College versus University Experience in the Nursing Program

The working example mentioned discuss below the different types of creativity nurtured in college compared to university leveled nursing programs found at courses offered at Brock University versus Niagara College. This will allow a different perspective on the between university and college education.

[edit] Brock University:

  • Registered nursing offers students a combination of theoretical and practical knowledge of the field. [21]
  • Teaches new nurses critical thinking to help identify the gaps between theory and practice in a professional setting. [21]
  • Practices nurses to problem solve and be goal-oriented when adapting to the fast-paced work environment. [21]

[edit] Niagara College

  • Practical nursing offers knowledge in the theory through hands on experience. [22]
  • Offers apprenticeships in local hospitals, which will give real-life work experiences.[22]
  • The website briefly mentions that this course will allow personal professional judgment in the workplace and display an attitude that is appropriate for work. [22]

[edit] Comparison:

According to some research creativity is domain-specific, and comparing practical to register nursing different creativity styles are being demonstrated here. [16] When examining some of the attributes described from the college website it shows that practical nursing is taking a hands on approach relating to more mechanical creativity due to the professional type classroom available through apprenticeships. [22] In comparison the university level course offers a limited amount of mechanical creativity, but also abstract thought and an integration of problem solving between to two skills. [21] When asking faculty members at a middle size university what the definition of creativity meant to them, different perspectives of creativity were made when defining this term. [16]

In addition, according to the researchers [23] most nurses that have acquired a college-level nursing qualifications may find themselves confronted with fixed wages and the inability to grow in one’s career. Most practical nurses that attained a college education find themselves working long hours and are subjected to the most mundane work duties at work. More practical nurses were more dissatisfied with their jobs than registered nurses [23]. [23] Another study found that most students who attended college were dissatisfied with the trait of mastery in one’s field and felt that practical college programs can only teach you so much about a field of study. [24] It seems as though current college education is not allowing students to take on a larger perspective to their field of study, compared to a university level degree like nursing, both post-secondary institutions are suggested to adapt to a changing society.[24]

[edit] Notes and References

  1. Creativity (n.d.) February 14th, 1013. In Retrieved from
  2. Rutledge, A. (2008, March 4). On Creativity. Retrieved from
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Beghetto, R. A., & Kaufman, J. C. (2010). Nurturing creativity in the classroom. New York : Cambridge University Press, 2010.
  4. Harris, R. (2012, April 2). Introduction to Creative Thinking. Retrieved from
  5. Rowse, D. (2007, Sept 5). 9 Attitudes of Highly Creative People. Retrieved from
  6. 6.0 6.1 Ø.L. Martinsen; G. Kaufmann; A. Furnham(n.d). Cognitive Style and Creativity. Encyclopedia Of Creativity, 214-221.
  7. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996). Creativity: The work and lives of 91 eminent people.HarperCollins.
  8. Montgomery, D., & Bull, K. S. (1993). Characteristics of the creative person. American Behavioral Scientist, 37(1), 68.
  9. Torrance, E.P.(1984). Mentor relationships. How they and creative achievement, endure, change, and die. Handbook of research on teaching. New York: Macmillan. 630-647.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 Schwartz, M. (2013). Opportunity Costs: The True Price of Internships. Dissent, 41-45.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Brown, C. (2012). Use of Logic Models to Plan and Assess Graduate Internship Experiences. Tech Trends: Linking Research and Practice to Improve Learning, 37-43.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Stedman, J. (2011). Knowledge Competence in Clinical and Counseling Readiness for Internship. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 1-5.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 Christman, S. (2012). Preparing for Success Through Apprenticeship. Technology & Engineering Teacher, 22-28.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Shekoyan, V., & Etkina, E. (2009). Using Cognitive Apprenticeship Framework And Multiple-possibility Problems to Enhance Epistemic Cognition. AIP Conference Proceedings, 269-272.
  15. Martin Prosperity Insights. (2011). The value of education part 3: Variation in returns to education by occupation. Retrieved from
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 Marquis, E., & Vajoczki, S. (2012). Creative differences: Teaching creativity across disciplines. International Journal for the School of Teaching and Learning, 6, 1-15.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Kaufman, J. C., & Sternberg, R. J. (2010). Cambridge handbook of creativity. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. (2012). Strengthening Ontario’s centres of creativity, innovation and knowledge. Retrieved from
  19. Jones, L. K. (2011). Choosing a college major based on your personality. The Career Key Canada, 2-25.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Furnham, A., Batey, M., Booth, T. W., Patel, V., & Lozinskaya, D. (2011). Individual difference predictor of creativity in art and science students. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 6, 114-121.
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 Brock University. (2009, September). Faculty of applied health sciences: Department of nursing. Retrieved from
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 Niagara College. (2013, February 12th). Post secondary: Practical nursing. Retrieved from
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 Cook, L., & Dickson, M. (2010). Returning to school: The challenges of the licensed practical nurse-to-registered nurse transition student. Teaching and Learning in Nursing, 5, 125-128
  24. 24.0 24.1 Schweinle, A., & Helming, L. M. (2011). Success and motivation among college students. Social Psychology of Education, 14, 529-546
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