8. Compare and contrast divergent and convergent thinking and discuss their role in creative problem solving.
Convergent thinking refers to the mental processes involved in generating ideas and solutions to problems. In convergent thinking, the learner uses his/her previous learning and experience to effectively deal with a task or to find solutions to a problem (Atherton, 2005). For example, when a manager is asked to design a program that would increase employee motivation, he would then research how employee motivations are designed and what programs would answer his need.
If the manager cannot find anything that is fitted for the company, he proceeds to develop his own program but uses his background and knowledge of human motivation and organizational psychology to be able to design an effective program. This approach is similar to the scientific method that most teachers in science adhere to. Although convergent thinking may have been the only form of thinking that we are familiar with, it is however not the only one.
Divergent thinking is the opposite of convergent thinking; this refers to the process of finding alternative routes or approaches to generate new ideas and in problem solving (Atherton, 2005).
In divergent thinking, the learner evaluates the task or the problem as a stimulus that would lead to the solution. The manager who is tasked to develop en employee motivation program would approach the task differently if he was using divergent thinking. In this approach he would see the motivation program as the goal; he would then use the definition of motivation to think of new activities that would answer the need of the company. Divergent thinking does not have set rules and procedures, but rather it is a creative process that would result to innovation.
Atherton, J. (2005) Learning and Teaching: Convergent and Divergent Learning. Retrieved August 25, 2007 from http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/converge.htm
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