Faculty perspectives on the development of creative thinking in entry level occupational therapy students
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Creativity has been part of occupational therapy (OT) since the field began (Hall, 1918; Slagle, 1939). Today, creative thinking is still valued in OT but we know little about how practitioners apply it (Fletcher, 2010). We know even less about how creative thinking is taught or viewed in OT education (Boiselle, 2015). This mixed methods study explores how entry level OT faculty view and teach creative thinking. Participants (N=435) were recruited from entry level masters and clinical doctorate programs across the United States. The faculty provided information on how they seek to stimulate creative thinking in their students. Additionally, faculty members provided descriptions of assignments they felt required creativity. The survey also gathered demographic information including the number of years of experience participants had in clinical practice and teaching. Quantitative analysis of the data revealed descriptors of an assignment requiring creativity had significant relationships with faculty clinical and academic experience as well as how they evaluated the final product of the assignment. However, the descriptors and forms of evaluation holding a significant relationship were not always related. This disconnection between the description of the assignment and its evaluation leads to questions about the underlying process of creating an assignment requiring creativity and choosing a grading strategy. Qualitative analysis of the ways faculty members promote creative thinking yielded 4 primary themes; assignment instructions and types, assignment process, environment, and instructor influence via interactions. These themes make up the foundation of the Creative Process of the Occupational Therapy Student. The information derived from this study may serve as a foundation for understanding how occupational therapy faculty seek to encourage creative thinking in their students.