Promoting Creativity in Science Students

A fundamental pillar of science is the scientific method. Another one is creativity. Creativity is an evolved cognitive mechanism for abstraction, synthesis, and non-recurrent problem solving, skills that all researchers recognize as crucial to developing a successful scientific career. However, creativity is a component of the scientific activity that usually is relegated as secondary.

Two researchers from the U.E. Modeling Nature, Isabel Reche (@isabel_reche_c), from the Department of Ecology, and Francisco Perfectti (@fperfectti), from the Department of Genetics, have just published in Trends in Ecology and Evolution, the most important journal in ecology and evolution, an essay on the need to develop creative skills, both individually and collectively, in science students.

In this publication, these professors from the University of Granada explain that recent research has shown that creativity can be cultivated by maintaining a growth mindset that makes us take advantage of the different opportunities and even the problems and difficulties that we must face during a scientific career. Considering scientific problems from different perspectives using lateral and associative thinking can also increase scientific creativity. Likewise, it is essential to be open to new opportunities, be curious and inquisitive, and not ignore unexpected or incongruent results, as they can contribute to scientific advances through serendipity.

The last part of the article is dedicated to analyzing the role of intelligence and collective creativity. Nowadays, most of the science is done by groups of collaborators of different sizes. Recent research has shown that diverse and non-hierarchical groups have higher collective intelligence and creativity, resulting in scientific publications that receive more citations and have a greater impact.

Isabel Reche and Francisco are Professors in UGR teaching the course "Creativity, Rigour, and Communication in Science" in the Master's Degree in Genetics and Evolution.

Reche I, Perfectti F (2020). Promoting Individual and Collective Creativity in Science Students. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 35(9): 745-748

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