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Fostering creative thinking skills in first-year students of the graphic design program at Cégep du Vieux-Montréal

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  • 1

    PERFORMANCE NEEDS ASSESSMENT

    Fostering creative thinking skills in first-year students of the graphic design program at Cgep du Vieux-Montral by milie Ren-Vronneau ETEC651 Nadia Naffi Concordia University

  • 2

    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    3 Summary

    4 Data collection

    5 Defining creativity

    6 The clients request

    7 Performance gaps

    8 Performers

    10 Context

    11 Constraints

    12 Requirements

    13 Cause analysis

    15 Summative evaluation instruments

    17 References and image credits

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    The teachers of the graphic design

    department at Cgep du Vieux-Montral

    have expressed to Jose Laplante, the

    coordinator of the department, their

    wish that first-year graphic design

    students would focus more on the cre-

    ative process before diving into the

    production of final pieces. A culture

    of creativity is one of the main assets

    of this program in comparison to other

    graphic design programs of competing

    institutions. According to the school,

    ensuring the continuity and diffusion of

    this culture will benefit the longevity of

    the department. The following perform-

    ance needs assessment reviews the

    issue in a systemic way in order to guide

    the design of potential interventions.

    performance needs assessment

  • 4

    Data collection

    The data for this needs assessment has been collected through interviews face-to-face inter-views with graphic design teachers as well as former and current graphic design students at Cgep du Vieux-Montral. To get a more accur-ate grasp on the topic, graphic design teachers and students from other graphic design pro-grams as well as current graphic design pro-fessionals were interviewed.

    Teachers were asked to give their impres-sions on first-year students creative thinking skills and what could improve or hinder the development of these skills in terms of environ-mental (information, resources, incentives) and individual factors (knowledge, capacity, motiv-ation). Teachers were also asked to self-report on their ability to be reflexive performers as creators and teachers.

    Students from all levels were asked to give their impressions on what they feel supports or hinders their acquisition of creative thinking skills in terms of environmental (information, resources, incentives) and individual factors (knowledge, capacity, motivation).

    performance needs assessment

    This data is supplemented with my own experi-ence and observations as a former graphic design student and current teacher. Recent lit-erature about creativity and its assessment has also been surveyed. The following section first attempts to define creativity in more precise terms. All these elements will help address the clients request in a further section.

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    Defining creativity

    Creativity is a complex phenomenon. As such, working with the client to further define which aspects of creativity were most relevant regard-ing the context of the graphic design field and their business need was necessary.

    Treffinger, Young, Selby & Shepardson (2002) have categorized and listed some of the manifestations of creativity found in indi-viduals which are shown in the figure below. Creative productivity is an interplay of ele-ments including individual characteristics, strategies to enhance creative thinking, influ-ences from the environment as well as the cre-ative results which are obtained. This model was used to guide the enquiry with the client.

    Generating ideas

    Digging deeper into

    ideas

    Openness and courage to explore ideas

    Listening to ones

    inner voiceContext of creative performance

    creativity characteristics (Treffinger et al., 2002)

    Generating ideasFluency, flexibility, originality, elaboration, metaphorical thinking

    Digging deeper into ideasAnalyzing, synthesizing, reorganizing, evalu-ating, seeing relationships, desire to resolve ambiguity, understanding complexity

    Personal creativity characteristicsProblem sensitivity, aesthetic sensitivity, curi-osity, sense of humor, playfulness, fantasy and imagination, risk-taking, tolerance for ambigu-ity, tenacity

    Openness and courage to explore ideasEmotional sensitivity, adaptability, intuition, willingness to grow, unwillingness to accept authoritarian assertions without critical exam-ination, integration of dichotomies or opposites

    Listening to ones inner voiceAwareness of creativeness, persistence, self-direction, internal locus of control, intro-spective, freedom from stereotyping, concen-tration, energy, work ethic.

    Personal creativity characteristics

    Creative strategies used by performers

    Creative outcomes generated

    by performers+ =SOURCE Adapted from Treffinger et al. (2002)

    performance needs assessment

  • 6

    The clients request

    The graphic design department of Cgep du Vieux-Montral has expressed the wish to address weaknesses in the creative processes of its first-year students. The teachers claim that students dont produce enough ideas early on and that they often limit themselves to the min-imum required quantity of sketches. In turn, this hinders the development of their creative thinking skills.

    This phenomenon has gained traction ever since the curriculum was updated to include computers and software in the programs first year in the Fall 2014. The teachers are con-cerned for the reputation of the program as its creative output has always been one of its land-marks and they wish to keep this tradition alive.

    business needGraphic design is a three-year technical pro-gram. Throughout their training, students work on projects to include in a portfolio which will be their ticket to a future career. Most of the works included in the portfolio are assign-ments undertaken in the last year. At this point, the projects look more professional, the exe-cution is more skillful, the ideas are better and the final pieces have more promotional value.

    Employers and undergraduate programs highly value ideas and manifestations of the creative process as they are the best evidence of the candidates ability to deliver original solutions. Visual trends pertaining to execution often fall out of favor quickly but great ideas have more impact and lasting power. Ensuring that students start working on their creative skills from the start increases their chances of producing work that will remain in their port-folio for a long time. In turn, these improved portfolios has varied influences (increased dif-fusion of students work, increased likeliness of students getting hire or enrolled in under-graduate graphic design programs, improved reputation) which all converge in ensuring the longevity of the graphic design department.

    job oneThe focus of this performance improvement project is for first-year students to increase their creative thinking skills.

    performance needs assessment

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    Performance gaps

    current performance When asked to generate ideas to solve a vis-ual problem, students stare at the blank page for a while, draw a few sketches on which they spend excessive time and then say theyre not inspired or couldnt think of anything else.

    Out of the few ideas they submit, they usually have one they express preference for. When asked to sketch more ideas, they resist by saying theyve already been through all the options they could think of. They procrastinate on Facebook or YouTube and quickly minimize their window when the teacher walks by.

    Students who are interested in computers complain they dont want to sketch by hand and claim that using the computer right away would save them time.

    They dont question the authority of the teacher much, and when asked to draw more sketches, they will comply but still show pref-erence to the same first idea. When they discuss their ideas with the teacher, they often mention a few ideas they had not drawn because they were afraid it was not appropriate.

    During group critiques, teachers have to draw them out as none of them voice their opinion.

    Occasionally, students rush to draw sketches to include with their final piece because they had skipped the creative process but dont want to lose the points dedicated to the research process.

    ideal performance When asked to generate ideas to solve a vis-ual problem, students draw as many rough sketches of potential solutions they can think of, including ideas that they consider as silly. They enjoy using pen and paper because they are fluid and portable tools they can carry with them anywhere.

    As their initial pace slows down, they apply creative thinking strategies to make sure they get as many as they can.

    By then, they have a few ideas with real potential and many more backup ideas which could be improved on. They take a quick break to clear their heads and come back to their ideas for analysis.

    They ask peers and teachers for feedback, lis-ten intently to their various opinions, and are eager to improve their ideas using the feedback they think was most helpful to them.

    They sketch again, trying to improve on pre-vious ideas, getting a few new ones at the same time and making the most of this time that is allowed to the creative process.

    During group critiques, students attempt to help their peers by giving their advice and try to predict what the teacher will say about the projects.

    Befor

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