An exploratory study of student perceptions of creativity and its importance in their leadership development

Princy L.D. Johnson, Kathryn W. Jablokow

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Creativity is essential for success in the engineering field at all levels of individual development, from novices to experts and from early career engineers to experienced engineering leaders. Some global technical organizations go to extraordinary lengths to develop working environments that hone the creative skills of their employees, while an increasing number of academic institutions strive to deliver curricula focused on creativity from a variety of perspectives. Despite these efforts, engineering professionals and academics continue to debate the best ways to embed and facilitate creativity in engineering programs. In this exploratory study, we investigated how engineering students perceive creativity and whether we could positively influence their acceptance of creativity as part of their leadership development. We analyzed a sample of graduate-level engineering students' perceptions of the importance of creativity to their professional and leadership development. Then, we explored whether those perceptions could be influenced through activity-based learning. Specifically, we embedded creativity concepts and practices within a masters-level engineering course focused on professional and leadership skills at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU). Creativity was introduced through a dedicated 3-hour lecture session and several activity-based learning sessions throughout the course. We captured the students' awareness and perceptions of creativity at multiple points throughout the course using a combination of assessments, including tailored questionnaires, the Belbin team roles instrument, self-reflection questionnaires, peer feedback questionnaires, and peer reviews. The students' progressive changes in awareness and perceptions of creativity, if any, were then extracted and analyzed using these datasets. The outcomes of this exploratory study indicated that the influences of cultural background and work training were some of the reasons for students' apathy towards creativity. We also found that careful design and delivery of creativity-related sessions could positively influence their perceptions and improvement in the demonstration of creativity skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 15 2019
Event126th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Charged Up for the Next 125 Years, ASEE 2019 - Tampa, United States
Duration: Jun 15 2019Jun 19 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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