on Science Learning and Teaching, Volume 9, Issue 1, Article 4
The purpose of science education is to enable individuals to use scientific process skills; in other words, to be able to define the problems around them, to observe, to analyze, to hypothesize, to experiment, to conclude, to generalize, and to apply the information they have with the necessary skills. Scientific process skills (SPS) include skills that every individual could use in each step of his/her daily life by being scientifically literate and increasing the quality and standard of life by comprehending the nature of science. Therefore, these skills affect the personal, social, and global lifes of individuals. The SPS are a necessary tool to produce and use scientific information, to perform scientific research, and to solve problems. These skills can be gained by students through certain science education activities (Harlen, 1999; Huppert, Lomask & Lazarorcitz, 2002). For example, the purpose of learning by using a research study is to help teach the scientific processes. The students undertaking a scientific research study can learn the processes of science (Dhillon, 1996).
Scientists use their creativity in every stage of scientific research (Abd-el Khalick & Lederman, 2000). So the creativity has a supplementary role in many scientific processes. It is used especially in introducing problems and hypotheses and designing experiments. That’s why science is a process containing the creativity components affecting each step of life, in addition to being a product (Saxena, 1994). Individuals need to think creatively and to be able to use their scientific process skills in order to develop a fundamental scientific understanding. And creative scientists are required to find useful and new solutions for the problems existing in daily life. Creative scientists are much more sensitive regarding problems. Every educated individual may not be a scientist, but it is important for each person to begin his or her educational life by applying creative thinking. All individuals who learned to think creatively while dealing with the scientific work can also apply these skills in other areas (Meador, 2003). Although creativity is accepted as a problem solving skill in research literature, it requires creative performance, recognizing the problem, thinking differently, and finding solutions. Recognizing the problem plays an extremely important role in the creative process (Erdener, 2003).
The best definition of creativity related to the science was done by Torrance; the definition is that, “The creativity is recognizing the gaps in the problem or the information, creating ideas or hypotheses, testing and developing these hypotheses, and transmitting the data” (Torrance, 1995 in Dass, 2004). When we examine this definition, it’s seen that the definition of SPS and creativity look similar. Both are resulting from the necessity of eliminating a problem in daily life. Hypotheses are introduced in order to show how to eliminate this problem, and to test these hypotheses, experiments are done. As a result of these experiments, application can find whether the problem has been eliminated. These results are shared with society and correlated to other results (Dass, 2004).
In this context, it can be accepted that the creativity is an important aspect of scientific skill. The problem solving, creating hypotheses, designing experiments, and technical innovation require a special type of scientific creativity. The human being is creative in a special field. For instance, while an individual is creative in chemistry, he or she may not be creative in painting (Liang, 2002). Therefore, it is generally necessary to separate the scientific creativity from creativity (Lin et al., 2003).
Scientific creativity (creativity in science) can be considered to help achieve new and original steps in performing the targets of science. Moravcsik (1981:222) defined the scientific creativity by saying, “it can explain itself in comprehending the new ideas and concepts added to scientific knowledge, in formulating new theories in science, finding new experiments presenting the natural laws, in recognizing new regulatory properties of scientific research and the scientific group, in giving the scientific activity plans and projects originality, and many other areas”.
Creative thinking is necessary to search for solutions to all kinds of problems that are encountered in daily life and to make new products. According to scientific studies, creativity takes a complementary role in many scientific processes. The individuals who use creativity can make their science education functional, and therefore, the scientific information can be the basis for producing a valuable product instead of just amassing information . Therefore, for students to gain the creative thinking skills that they will need as adults, s each stage of their education, beginning in elementary school, must be one of the most important purposes of science education (Koray, 2003).
Science educators recognized the importance of creativity in science education, and started to work on methods and techniques which can improve creativity (Hu & Adey, 2002; Liang, 2002; Meador, 2003; Roberts, 2003). However there are not many studies presenting creativity improvement and supporting methods for science students (Liang, 2002). And the studies have generally used cognitive aspects to determine the scientific creativity of students. For example, certain studies have used finding the problem and formulating the hypotheses skills as criteria to evaluate the scientific creativity (Hoover, 1992; Hoover & Feldhusen, 1990). Finding the problem and formulating the hypotheses are important in improving the scientific creativity, and at the same time, they are the components of SPS. Therefore, it is believed that the scientific creativity of individuals who use SPS was better (Hoover, 1994; Innamorato, 1998; Roberts, 2003; Meador, 2003; Liang, 2002; Hu & Adey, 2002; Cheng, 2004).
When the national science education standards (NRC, 1996) are examined, it is seen that SPSs and creativity had important roles in science education. However, in the school education, the problem and materials are given to the students, and this prevents improvement of thinking skills. Moreover, scientific knowledges and theories are directly told to the students in their textbooks, and they are not allowed to think for themselves. While the teacher teaches a lesson at the classroom, first he/she tells about the concept, and then makes the students do experiments to understand the concept. This type of education does not exactly represent the scientific exploring process.
If during this study some evidence related to improving SPS scientific creativity could be provided, and then science teachers could consider scientific creativity as an educable skill rather than as a comprehension endowment or an extra-ordinary skill. The results of the study can help teachers to understand the factors affecting the scientific creativity of the students. Therefore, teachers can use SPSs to increase the scientific creativity of the students. Although creativity has been studied by psychologists and researchers for many years, there are very few studies about scientific creativity and scientists’ creative processes (Mansfield & Buse, 1981 in Liang, 2002).
For all these reasons, SPS are a subject needed to be emphasized. Also, knowing how much the students gained SPS can improve their scientific creativity.
The attitude towards science contains the attitudes towards scientists, scientific attitudes, and the attitudes towards scientific careers, science teaching methods, interests related to scientific knowledge, and the content of the science. Determining the students’ attitudes towards science and scientists takes a key role in determining their scientific creativities (Haladyna & Shaughnessy, 1982).
Although a study presenting scientific creativity and the effects of SPS on scientific creativity has not been encountered in the field literature, it is thought that this study would bring a new point of view for elementary school science and technology education and the related studies.
Copyright (C) 2008 HKIEd APFSLT. Volume 9, Issue 1, Article 4 (Jun., 2008). All Rights Reserved.