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Synthesis: Research and Resources

Synthesis: Research and Resources

Combining separate elements to create something new.


Mycoted: Creativity and innovation in science and technology

An impressive list of activities, methods and concepts to help stimulate, organize and increase the quality of creative thought.

Criteria for evaluating a creative solution

A practical, useful list students can use to judge the quality of their synthesis efforts.


Anderson, L. W. & Krathwohl, D. R., et al (Eds..) (2001) A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom's taxonomy of educational objectives. Allyn & Bacon. Boston, MA (Pearson Education Group).

An update on the classic taxonomy that has informed educational research for decades. Includes a second dimension of the taxonomy, and several vignettes demonstrating the new version in use.

Von Oech, R. (1998). A whack on the side of the head: How you can be more creative. New York, NY: Warner Books.

A popular book that has become a "classic" creativity resource. Solid content creatively presented--an easy but substantial read.

Weston, A. (2007). Creativity for critical thinkers. New York, NY US: Oxford University Press.

An easy-to-read book designed as a text for high-school or college level critical thinking courses. Each chapter has a "for practice" section that teachers can use as an instructional resource.


Basadur, M., Runco, M., & Vega, L. (2000). Understanding how creative thinking skills, attitudes and behaviors work together: A causal process model. Journal of Creative Behavior, 34(2), 77-100.

This empirical study investigated the interrelationships between creative thinking, attitudes, and behaviors in a sample of participants trained in a process model of creative thinking. Participants were asked to utilize the process model of creative thinking to solve real world managerial problems. Results indicated that:

  • The quantity of new ideas generated directly affected the quality of options to solve the problem and the skill with which ideas were evaluated.
  • A key attitudinal skill was avoiding premature evaluation of ideas, that is, not settling on an idea until all ideas had been generated.

Culvenor, J., & Else, D. (1997). Finding occupational injury solutions: The impact of training in creative thinking. Safety Science, 25(1), 187-205.

This empirical study investigated the effect of training undergraduate engineering students in creative thinking on generating solutions and decision making regarding injury prevention ideas and programs. The participants were trained in de Bono's (1985) 6 Thinking Hats method of creative thinking. Results indicated that:

  • Students trained in creative thinking outperformed the control group in generating solutions to safety problems by 100%.
  • Students trained in creative thinking were significantly better at prioritizing safety options generated when compared to the control group.

Gendrop, S. (1996). Effect of an intervention in synectics on the creative thinking of nurses. Creativity Research Journal, 9(1), 11-19.

This study investigated the effects of reflective reasoning abilities and synectics on creative thinking, which was defined by the author as the ability to generate novel ideas. Synectics is a specific strategy developed by Gordon (1987) for stimulating creative thinking. Participants for this study were nurses in an urban hospital setting. Results indicated:

  • Participants in the experimental (trained in synectics) scored significantly higher than the control group at post-test for all creative thinking traits measured (flexibility, fluency, and originality)
  • Thus, results demonstrate the effectiveness of synectics on increasing individual"s ability to generate new ideas or mental products

Plucker, J., Beghetto, R.A., & Dow, G. (2004). Why isn't creativity more important to educational psychologists? Potential, pitfalls and future directions in creativity research. Educational Psychologist, 39(2). 83-96.

In this literature review, the authors examine how creativity has (and has not) been operationally defined and assessed. The article offers an integrated definition of creativity as "the interaction among aptitude, process, and environment by which an individual or group produces a perceptible product that is both novel and useful as defined in a social context" (p.90).

Saeki, N., Fan, X., & Van Dusen, L. (2001). A comparative study of creative thinking of American and Japanese college students. Journal of Creative Behavior, 35(1), 24-36.

This article investigated cross-cultural differences in creative thinking. In addition, the authors sought to explore whether gender differences exist in creative thinking abilities, and whether a relationship exists between academic achievement and creative thinking. Results indicated:

  • American college students scored significantly higher on a test of creative thinking, which was attributed to more focus on fostering creative thinking in American culture
  • No gender differences in creative thinking existed in either culture
  • No statistically significant relationship was found between academic aptitude and creative thinking

Waks, S., & Merdler, M. (2003, May). Creative thinking of practical engineering students during a design project. Research in Science & Technological Education, 21(1), 101-121.

This study investigated how creative thinking emerged in a year-long capstone project for engineering students. In addition, attitude toward creativity and the effects of instructor involvement were explored. Two important points posited by the authors in relation to generalizability across disciplines is that:

  • Instructors have the influence to facilitate higher levels of creative thinking, in regards to encouraging students to think creatively
  • Creative thinking may be achieved in different ways: intrinsic motivation by the student to engage in creative thinking or with the encouragement of instructors

White, W., & Hargrove, R. (1996). Are those preparing to teach prepared to teach critical thinking? Journal of Instructional Psychology, 23(2), 117-120.

This study investigated the degree to which undergraduate teacher education students were prepared to facilitate developing critical thinking skills in their future students in the classroom. To answer this question, the authors administered a cognitive test that tapped higher levels of critical thinking. Results indicated:

  • Teacher education students demonstrated limitations in analysis and synthesis skills
  • The authors note the importance of training future teachers in critical thinking skills in order to be able to instruct future students in these same skills