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Human Creativity

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Creativity is an original cognitive ability and problem solving process which enables individuals to use their intelligence in a way that is unique and directed toward coming up with a product.

The most common means of identifying creativity has been through its products. The arts including sculpture, painting, and the humanities including writing, law are not only areas in which human creativity has been exhibited. Science and engineering fields are also full of discoveries and products that meet our tests of creativity. Today, there is a need for measuring creativity in different fields of disciplines and professions such as personnel selection, education and fine arts. Architectural education is one of them because, it can be defined as a design study which get it’s origins from creativity. While the encouragement and rewarding of creativity is very important in all fields, it is especially important in the field of architectural education.


Architecture is an un-revealed collaboration of technique and aesthetic. Technique is the grammar of the architectural language and the creativity discloses the real precious of technique as well. When we describe an architectural work as a work of art, this also includes the word creativity (Nervi & Ricken, 1990). It’s possible to increase these definitions which stressed the correlation between architecture and creativity. When we consider architecture as a multidimensional, comprehensive discipline, we also appropriate that it implies both art and profession. Architecture has much in common with other disciplines: social sciences, management, history, operational research, philosophy, graphic design, math and etc. These features which distinguish architecture from other disciplines impute different kind of responsibilities for architectural education. Besides technical and professional skills, an architect must have imagination and to be creative at many levels, and must gain artistic and intellectual ability as well. This matter gains much more importance in some countries, like Turkey. The keywords of creative thinking should be summarized as critical thinking, divergent cognitive style, heuristic search, holistic approach, lateral thinking etc. All of these keywords are not considered in the important objectives of primary, secondary and high school education in Turkey. With the model of frontal classroom teaching students are not able to connect the new information to a meaningful context and the situations in actual practice. Architectural students who met with the innovative educational methods such as learning by doing, project teaching, student centered learning, problem based learning (PBL) at the first time, are really not ready to the new forms of the design knowledge. Design ability also relies fundamentally on non-verbal media of thought and communication. This lack of main principles becomes more important when the process of entrance to university in Turkey is considered. Students, who applied to an architectural program, do not have any special exam and aptitude test for measuring their ability on creativity and efficiency. Therefore, in this research it is aimed to find out these questions: Can we measure the creativity of architectural students at the beginning of the architectural education with TTCT? and Is it possible to test the effectiveness of architectural education on the improvement of general creative thinking abilities? In this case, before explaining the case study, the theoretical framework will be discussed in general manner.

Creative Thinking in Architectural Design Education

Creative Thinking in Architectural Design Education Architectural design is one kind of problem solving which primarily involves a series of actions that must be performed in order to solve a design problem (Chan, 1990). Schön (1983) identified that learning in design studio begins with illdefined problems. The teaching method employed in design studios has a long tradition in architectural education and has been held up as an exemplar for teaching in other disciplines (Boyer & Mitgang, 1996). Schön also noted that the studio-teaching method could be generalized to all professional education. According to objectives of architectural education, students should be educated not only to gain theoretical knowledge, but also to transform this knowledge with their creativity to the actual practice. Goldschmidt and Weil (1998) suggested that design is based on acquiring skills, practice and experience. It is understood as an outcome of thinking processes. The architectural designer is thinking of the whole range of design criteria and requirements such as the aesthetic and formal attributes of the proposal (Cross, 1990). Schön’s theory of reflection in action (1983), discusses the fact that the architectural knowledge derives from very differing areas of scientific and aesthetic thinking remains open to a large degree (Schön, 1983). Oxman (1990) claimed that, the reasoning processes which occur in the recall and restructuring of knowledge are among foundations of design; they may also provide a basis for the explanation of creativity. 

There are also arguments whether creativity is latent potentiality or an improvable characteristic. The studies about the dialectic between knowledge and creativity have contradictory findings. There are two different approaches to the effects of limits on creativity. According to the first approach, creativity increases parallel to the increase of knowledge and also creative thinking only can emerge from the synthesis of different information networks and knowledge connections. Creativity could be advanced through training (Parnes & Noller, 1972; Torrance, 1990). But according to the second approach, any increase of knowledge produces decrease creativity (Dunin-Woyseth, 1996). Teymur (1993) suggested that, in architectural education first year can be both creative in an unfettered way and responsibly mindful of the world, whilst the upper years can be both professionally rigorous and intellectually adventurous. Despite the contradictory arguments about effects of knowledge on creative thinking, there has been little empirical and experimental research in the architectural design education literature. Future studies should explore both direct and indirect paths linking creative thinking to architectural education which is our focus here. So that the main aim of this research was to provide theoretical suggestions with an experimental method. 


Architectural education must be designed deliberately to enhance and to develop students’ creative thinking and abilities. When the main result of this case study was considered, architectural design education accomplished with this important objective. The results of the t-test showed that last year students were significantly more creative than first year students. Although this result suggests hopeful assumptions, it is not enough to say; creativity will be advanced through architectural training. More research is also required about this subject. The experimental base of this assumption should be developed further, so that more rigorous conclusions and conclusions which can be generalized can be drawn from this. The common finding of international researches indicated that, with the various exercises of creatology courses such as fluent thinking, flexible thinking and divergent thinking, TTCT total marks of students increased evidently. Although creativity takes place in the most important objectives of design studio, there is not any course known as Creative Studies or Creatology in the curriculum. This matter gains more importance, when the objectives of architectural education are considered. In architectural design studio, students should be educated not only to solve ill defined design problems, but also real world problems. After architectural education program they should adopt their own creative expression improving with design skills and knowledge to ill structured - ill defined - wicked real world problems. Although one of the sentimental aims of architectural education must depend on developing creative personality, the traditional academic organization of the university curriculum is primarily focused on professional knowledge and skills. When all facts about educational background of architectural design students are considered, it is obvious that curriculum must be discussed twice from the perspective of creative thinking. Considering the characteristics of architectural design students who were short of innovative training in their former study at school and real situation of our traditional frontal teaching model, it is necessary to discuss the issue about the improvement and measurement of the creative thinking in architectural education.


ADAMS, J.L. (1998), Conceptual Blockbusting: A Guide to Better Ideas, Addison-Wesley Publishing Company Inc., (MA), USA.

ASLAN, E. (1999), Turkish Version of Torrance Test of Creative Thinking in Proceedings of International Conference on Test Adaptation, Goerge Town University, Washington D.C.

BOYER, E.L. and MITGANG, L.D. (1996), Building Community: A New Future for Architectural Education and Practice, A Special Report, Carnegia Foundation for The Advancement of Teaching, Princeton, NJ.

BROADBENT, G. (1975), Design in Architecture, John Wiley & Sons, New York.