Fostering Creativity in Higher Education: A Comparative Study on Pedagogical Strategies of Learning by Projects between Denmark and China

  • Zhou, Chunfang (Project Manager)

    Project Details


    This project is primarily concerned with how different pedagogical strategies foster creativity in higher education by examining two different contexts, on in China and one in Denmark. This will contribute to rethinking the theory on how pedagogical environments shape students’ creativity so they can cross disciplinary boundaries and attain knowledge and skills suitable to work in different real problem-solving contexts. This will involve an examination of two cases in the field of engineering and science education as empirical data resource: Problem-Based Learning (PBL) at Aalborg University (AAU), Denmark and Project-Organized Groups (POG), China. A comparative study will be conducted within the framework of social-cultural theories.
    Although some studies have been conducted focusing on creativity in learning contexts, little attention has been paid to how creativity may help to attain know knowledge by crossing disciplinary boundaries in learning processes and how specific pedagogical environments influence such a process. Thus, the first purpose of this project will be to address this gap by investigating both theory and empirical data that links creativity, knowledge production, learning processes and the influences of pedagogical environment. The rich empirical evidence collected from POG in China and PBL in Denmark will be shown and the framework of social-cultural theories will be developed for data analysis towards this purpose.
    The second purpose is to strengthen fostering creativity by project strategies in higher education. Creativity is the ability to produce novel and useful work and it helps learners to shape new knowledge and come up with imaginative solutions, so higher education teaching needs to provide for such learning opportunities. Especially in the fields of engineering and science, the engineers and scientists need creativity to respond to challenges in their fields by combining different and interdisciplinary knowledge while focusing systemic constructs and outcomes. Traditional single discipline-based and individual learning-based education systems are failing to adequately prepare students with creativity. While diverse project-based strategies that provide group learning contexts for knowledge assemblies may be fostering creativity.
    The third purpose is to provide empirical evidence on the specialized body of “engineering and science knowledge” is combined with both hard knowledge and soft skills. This can avoid misunderstanding that soft skills are only accessories in engineering and science education. The social-cultural perspective suggests that all learning is situated and learning is shaped by the interaction between learners and their learning environment. The knowledge engineers and scientists bring to bear in their work includes knowing how to perform tasks, knowing facts, and knowing when and how to bring appropriate skills and facts to bear on a particular problem. Thus, soft skills such as communication and leadership are inseparable from pure engineering and science knowledge.
    Qualitative methods such as interviews and observations will be used for data collection of students’ experience of creativity development in the contexts of POG in China and PBL in Denmark. Both contexts use projects to organize students’ learning, but students have different learning experiences due to the differences in educational systems and social-cultural environments. In regards to empirical material on PBL in Denmark, the data includes interviews with 53 students from Computer Science, Electronic Systems, Architecture and Design and Medialogy at Aalborg University (AAU). In regards to empirical material on POG in China, data will be collected from Northeastern University (NEU) that has a long tradition of POG in diverse fields. The student interviewees (n=50) will be sampled from the study programmes in Computer Science, Electronic Systems, Architecture and Design and Animation (a similar study programme to Medialogy at AAU).
    Accordingly, by a comparative study, this project will lead POG in China and PBL in Denmark to future pedagogical improvement for creativity.
    Effective start/end date01/11/201331/10/2016


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    • 2nd MIC Conference 2016

      Chunfang Zhou (Speaker)

      14 Sept 201616 Sept 2016

      Activity: Talks and presentationsConference presentations

    • Creative University

      Chunfang Zhou (Organizer)

      18 Aug 201619 Aug 2016

      Activity: Attending an eventConference organisation or participation

    • VII European Congress of Methodology

      Chunfang Zhou (Speaker)

      27 Jul 201629 Jul 2016

      Activity: Talks and presentationsConference presentations