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Problem Solving & Creativity. Dr. Claudia J. Stanny EXP 4507 Memory & Cognition Spring 2009. Overview. Representing problems Strategies for solving problems Expertise and problem solving Impediments to solving problems Creativity. What is a Problem?.

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problem solving creativity

Problem Solving & Creativity

Dr. Claudia J. Stanny

EXP 4507

Memory & Cognition

Spring 2009

overview
Overview
  • Representing problems
  • Strategies for solving problems
  • Expertise and problem solving
  • Impediments to solving problems
  • Creativity

Claudia J. Stanny

what is a problem
What is a Problem?
  • Discrepancy between the current situation and a desired situation
    • Initial state
    • Goal State
    • Obstacles that make transition between states difficult
  • Problem solving entails:
    • Accurately representing the problem
    • Discovering procedures to eliminate obstacles

Claudia J. Stanny

types of problems
Types of Problems
  • Well-defined problems
    • Can identify or describe a “correct” solution
    • May be established algorithms for arriving at a solution
  • Ill-defined problems
    • A single “correct” solution may not be known
    • Difficult to evaluate the quality of multiple potential solutions
    • Procedures for solving the problem may be unknown

Claudia J. Stanny

representing problems
Representing Problems
  • Different problems must be represented differently to achieve a solution
  • Need to discover and use the most appropriate method for representing problems of a given type
    • Symbols
    • Matrices
    • Diagrams
    • Visual images

Claudia J. Stanny

probability tree diagram
Probability Tree Diagram

Claudia J. Stanny

problem solving strategies
Problem-Solving Strategies
  • Algorithms
  • Heuristics
    • Mean-ends analysis
    • Hill-climbing heuristic
  • Analogies

Claudia J. Stanny

mean ends analysis
Mean-Ends Analysis
  • General Problem Solver (Newell & Simon)
  • Problem space
    • Beginning/Current state
    • Goal state
    • Operations available to modify the current state
  • Problems are defined as a difference between the current state and the goal state
  • Solution may require setting sub-goals
  • Select operations that reduce the difference between the current state and the goal state

Claudia J. Stanny

hill climbing heuristic
Hill-Climbing Heuristic
  • At each choice point, select the operation or procedure that moves you closer to the goal state
  • Problem:

Sometimes the solution requires temporarily moving away from the goal state

Claudia J. Stanny

backward reasoning
Backward Reasoning
  • Reverse the process in means-ends analysis
  • Consider the operations needed to make the goal state look more like the current state
    • Helps in establishing important subgoals for means-ends analysis
    • May help identify important operations that are not obvious when using forward reasoning

Claudia J. Stanny

reasoning by analogy
Reasoning by Analogy
  • Use a known system to serve as a model for the current problem
  • Basis for the analogy
    • Surface features of the problem and the model are similar
    • Structural features of the problem and the model are similar
    • We discover useful solutions more often when the analogy is based on similar structural features

Claudia J. Stanny

problem solving by experts and novices
Problem Solving by Experts and Novices
  • How details about the problem are perceived
  • Memory for details about the problem
  • Experts recognize important structural characteristics of problems
  • Experts rely more frequently on forward reasoning
    • Proceduralization of reasoning strategies
  • Differences between experts and novices are domain-specific rather than general

Claudia J. Stanny

mental set
Mental Set
  • Bias to adopt the strategy, procedure or interpretation that was used with previous problems
  • Make assumptions that are not justified and that interfere with solution to the problem
  • Functional Fixedness: Focus on typical uses for objects rather than novel uses that will enable solving the problem

Claudia J. Stanny

luchins water jug problem
Luchins Water Jug Problem
  • Jar A 20; Jar B 5; Jar C 130 – Need 100
  • Jar A 12; Jar B 3; Jar C 108 – Need 90
  • Jar A 6; Jar B 1; Jar C 28 – Need 20
  • Jar A 6; Jar B 4; Jar C 44 – Need 30
  • Jar A 10; Jar B 5; Jar C 30 – Need 15

Claudia J. Stanny

functional fixedness
Functional Fixedness
  • Failure to recognize multiple uses of objects typically used for other purposes
  • Duncker (1945) candle problem
  • Identify 10 uses for this object:

Claudia J. Stanny

what is creativity
What is Creativity?
  • Creativity is frequently defined in terms of the characteristics of creative products:
  • Solutions to problems
  • Artistic creations
  • Characteristics of creative solutions & ideas
    • Novel
    • High quality
    • Useful
    • Appropriate to context

Claudia J. Stanny

creativity
Creativity
  • Mechanisms for creative thought
    • Role of special processes such as incubation
    • Ordinary cognitive processes also contribute to creative results
      • Directed remembering – conscious retrieval of information under constraints
      • Noticing – attention to errors during edits/revisions
      • Flexibility – recognizing and categorizing objects in multiple ways
    • Thinker is motivated to search extensively for information that meets criteria of novelty
    • Evaluate potential solution or new idea
      • Will it solve the problem?
      • Will it create undesirable outcomes?

Claudia J. Stanny

measuring aptitude for creativity
Measuring Aptitude for Creativity
  • Divergent Thinking Approach (Guilford)
    • Focus on ability to generate multiple and varied responses to a single prompt
  • Investment Theory of Creativity (Sternberg)
    • Produce a new idea when no one else is interested (“buy low”)
    • When idea becomes popular (“sell high”), move on to a new project
    • Focus on characteristics of creative individuals and the environments that support them

Claudia J. Stanny

remote associates test
Remote Associates Test

Assumes creativity requires discovering new relations between concepts.

Find a single word that is related to all three of the following words:

Claudia J. Stanny

attributes that promote creativity
Attributes that Promote Creativity
  • Characteristics of the individual:
    • Intelligence
    • Knowledge (expertise in area of creativity)
    • Motivation
    • Appropriate thinking style
    • Appropriate personality
  • Characteristics of the environment
    • Encouraging environment

Claudia J. Stanny

factors that influence creativity
Factors that Influence Creativity
  • Intrinsic motivation
    • High intrinsic motivation is associated with higher levels of creativity
    • Greater persistence at tasks required to generate multiple solutions and struggle with obstacles
  • Extrinsic motivation
    • Extrinsic motivational pressures such as formal evaluations & offers of rewards reduce the quality of creative products generated (especially if the reward system limits options)
    • Useful for ensuring people meet deadlines

Claudia J. Stanny

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