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Natural Awakenings

Young Artists and Scientists May Think Alike: No Significant Differences Found Between the Two

Aug 31, 2011 10:09AM

Several decades ago, research suggested that science students shone at analytical thinking, while budding artists scored highest in tests measuring creativity and imagination. Now, updated research with a group of British students at the University of Derby, published in the journal Thinking Skills and Creativity, finds no significant differences in the two groups’ problem-solving patterns.

Peter K. Williamson, on the faculty of business, computing and law, studied 116 senior undergraduates that took a series of tests measuring their skills at logical (convergent) and creative (divergent) thinking. They were asked to solve novel and imperfectly defined problems to determine their aptitude for finding imaginative solutions and to reveal their preferred learning styles.

“The findings of this study were in marked contrast to earlier published results,” Williamson reports. “Differences were found in preferred learning styles, but these were much smaller than reported previously.” The research indicates that modern graduates are likely to have a more balanced educational profile than their specialized predecessors. He suggests that changes in educational policy— such as an increase in interdisciplinary studies and less formal, more flexible teaching styles—may help account for the contemporary shift.

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