Enhancing fluent and flexible thinking through the creative drama process

Karakelle, S. (2009). Enhancing fluent and flexible thinking through the creative drama process. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 4(2), 124-129.

Abstract:

This study uses two sub-parts of the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking (1974), to measure flexibility and fluency, key elements of divergent thinking, in relation to creative drama instruction. In this experimental study, 30 postgraduate university students participated; 15 in an experimental group that took a drama course and 15 in a control group not involved in the drama course. The researcher administered pre- and post-tests to both groups and analyzed differences between the groups using statistical tests. The results show that creative drama process can help enhance two important aspects of divergent thinking, fluency and flexibility, leading to increased creativity.

Key Findings:

  • The author notes that divergent thinking is essential to creativity as it involves thinking in multiple directions, seeking changes, and investigating. Its first element, fluency, is measured by the quantity of unconventional and associated ideas generated on a specific issue; and the second, flexibility, is measured by the number of associations generated that relate to different fields.
  • Exposure to a process of creative drama improves the fluency and flexibility thinking levels of adults.
  • By being open-ended, semi-structured, and uncertain, creative drama tends to stimulate the creative potential of participants by increasing their tolerance of uncertainty and provoking their curiosity, both key characteristics of creativity.
  • By being a group process, creative drama allows participants to become aware of the different responses of other individuals as they resolve the posited problems, stimulating their divergent thinking.
  • By generating a dynamic that necessitates, and makes it fairly safe, to take risks (which are inherent in creative behavior), the drama experience encourages participants to “decide to be creative,” an indispensable step toward increased creativity.

Significance of the Findings:

Most scholars involved in related subjects agree that practicing drama promotes or supports one’s creativity, but few experimental studies have looked at this issue. This study reduces that deficiency, showing that creative drama involvement improves adults’ divergent thinking, increasing their fluency and flexibility skills, thereby increasing their creativity.

Methodology:

This research was based on a pre- and post-test design with an experimental and a control group. The sub-scales of “circle drawing” and “alternate uses of objects” of the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking (1974) were used to assess fluency and flexibility, the basic elements of divergent thinking. The experimental group consisted of 15 postgraduate students of science and math education who chose to take a creative drama course and received instruction for 10 three-hour sessions. The control group, 15 similar students who chose to take other classes, was not involved in the drama process. There was no significant difference between the groups in the results of the pre-test.

Limitations of the Research:

Since the participants are not observed after their involvement with creative drama, it is not possible to conclude that the increase in creativity will have any degree of permanence.

Since the subjects in the experimental group volunteered to take the creative drama course, the study might be biased somewhat by the inference that they are risk-takers and open to new experiences, which are characteristics known to support creative performance in the first place.

Questions to Guide New Research:

What is the degree of durability of the increased creativity generated by involvement in drama experiences? How do participants’ existing creative capacities affect the results of research?