Student Persistence Through Uncertainty Toward Successful Creative Practice
McNair, Elizabeth D.
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To increase creative practice among students in engineering and other disciplines, an interdisciplinary instructor team developed a cross-college undergraduate course aimed at open ideation and creative inquiry. One skill in the development of creative practice is identifying and addressing uncertainty avoidance behaviors, which are high in engineering students. We leverage research grounded in professional identity and cognitive design processes to study impacts of curriculum designed to address student persistence through, or indifference toward, uncertainty in creative practice. Questions we seek to explore are: What role does uncertainty avoidance play in developing creative practice, especially in interdisciplinary teams? What strategies can be used to overcome that uncertainty? To explore the role of uncertainty avoidance in the course, we analyze observational data of classroom activities, including ideation workshops, public critiques, team discussions, and artifacts of student work. Findings are used to draw conclusions about processes that are teachable in engineering and interdisciplinary learning environments, in terms of uncertainty avoidance and creativity. To this end, we offer initial directions and questions for future work that would contribute to a pedagogical model that helps engineering students succeed in interdisciplinary contexts.