FLC: Integrative Thinking and Creative Thinking

Integrative Thinking and Creative Thinking

[Registration for this FLC is closed.]

Facilitator:  Dr. Kateryna Schray, Professor, COLA/English Department (rudnytzk@marshall.edu)

Just about any popular prime-time scripted television drama depends on the interactions of an ensemble cast, a group of people with distinct areas of expertise who are able to communicate effectively and cooperate efficiently, designing workable solutions to complex problems. This is especially evident in trouble-shooting shows like Scorpion – which includes a computer genius, a behaviorist and a mechanical prodigy – and police procedurals like Bones – which includes a forensic anthropologist, an artist and an expert on entomology, botany and mineralogy. To a great extent, these fictional examples mirror the modern workplace, where employers no longer need to hire five experts in X, but rather make five expert hires, each specializing in either V, W, X, Y or Z. Like successful television programs, corporations and institutions depend on “ensemble casts” to achieve their missions.

In more metaphoric (literally flowery) language, an ideal team of employees is no longer an arrangement of roses, but a varied bouquet of roses, irises, daffodils, carnations and so forth along with the greenery used as filler.

In more academic language, U.S. employers can afford for their highly specialized experts to refine their skills on the job as long as they have “broad knowledge and skills associated with a liberal-arts education: critical thinking, communication, problem solving, and an understanding of the historical, economic, scientific, cultural, and global contexts in which we live and work” (Sandeen) – precisely the goals MU’s BA Degree Profile. In other words, successful professionals must have the ability to become discipline-conversant outside of their own fields.

Our FLC will continue the CTL’s previous attention to cross-disciplinary pedagogy by focusing on the two domains of MU’s BA Degree Profile which are anticipated in the concept of an ensemble cast: Integrative Thinking and Creative Thinking.

What we’ll do:

  • Focusing on format rather than content, share some of the High Impact Practices that we currently use in our classrooms and examine how these HIPs may transfer across disciplines;
  • Read Mark Haddon’s novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which looks more like a math workbook in places than a murder-mystery novel (which it is).
  • Design classroom activities that evoke Integrative Thinking and inspire Creative Thinking;
  • Create innovative assignment ideas and formats resulting in artifacts that showcase our students’ integrative and creative abilities, concrete products that our students can share with prospective employers, describe in their graduate school application essays or look to for inspiration as they advance in their careers.

How we’ll do it:

  • With the exception of Mark Haddon’s novel, all of the work in our FLC (including reading materials and introduction to teaching tools) will be done during our meetings.
  • Three of our FLC meetings will consist of “field trips” to Special Collections in Morrow Library, the Birke Art Gallery and Fine and Performing Arts Center.
  • With regard to Integrative Thinking, each faculty member will be invited to share a sample lesson from his/her field, and the rest of the participants will devise approaches to that same subject from their own disciplinary perspectives, discover disciplinary connections with the subject, and apply the various models of professional cooperation (cross-disciplinary, interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, transdisciplinary).
  • With regard to Creative Thinking, articles on pedagogy in the early 1990s introduced the idea of students as collaborators in learning, rather than recipients of learning. Today we are on the cusp of the exciting shift of seeing our students go from collaborators to creators. Our FLC will explore ways in which to actualize that transition for each student by designing innovative assignments and class activities.

Integrative Thinking and Creative Thinking FLC Schedule:  Thursdays, September 15 & 29, October 13 & 27, November 10, December 1, 2016 and January 19, 2017 (all 12-2 pm, CTL Commons in Old Main 109)

Works Cited:

Holmer, Joan Ozark. “‘O, what Learning is!’: Some Pedagogical Practices for Romeo and Juliet.” Shakespeare Quarterly 41.2 (Summer, 1990): 187-194

Rosenfield, P.L. “The Potential of Transdisci­plinary Research for Sustaining and Extend­ing Linkages Between the Health and Social Sciences.” Social Science & Medicine 35.11 (1992): 1343-1357.

Sandeen, Cathy. “High-Impact Educational Practices: What We Can Learn from the Traditional Undergraduate Setting.” Continuing Higher Education Review 76 (2102).