Educational innovation: a game to reveal student creativity


Faced with the growing need for innovation in business and society in general, the socio-economic world rediscovers the virtues of creativity. The World Economic Forum, in its report on human capital ranks it among the skills that will be the most sought after in the future.

Reading these first lines, many of us may doubt, saying: “Yes, but, precisely, I’m not creative! “. False idea, and unfortunately far too common! Each individual has creative skills more or less developed as shown by the work of Gerard Puccio .

We all have our preferences, but it does not exist, as it sometimes seems to suggest or think, of non-creative individuals. Everyone can at one time or another implement know-how or develop skills that are useful for individual and, above all, collective creativity.

As a university teacher, we strive to get this message across to our undergraduate and master’s students. However, we have found that often they do not allow themselves to get out of their usual patterns of thinking.

In addition, they tend to stop in their research as soon as one or two ideas crystallize. But as Linus Pauling , Nobel Prize in Chemistry, puts it: “The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas! “.

How can we help our students develop this potential and, above all, trust? Knowing that creativity is learned by doing: The more a student practices the generation of ideas, the more he will eventually generate quality ideas (Baruah and Paulus, 2008) .

A creative toolbox

For a year, our group of teachers from various academic disciplines (management and support of innovation, designer, information and communication, modern letters, linguistics) tried to identify mechanisms that could lead students to generate a a lot of creative ideas.

This work led to the construction of a game, in the form of a toolbox. Indeed, according to Hélène Michel , the game represents a potential as an educational tool and gamification allows to open the process of creativity to non-experts.

Called “The Bus in reverse”, this game leads to adopt several points of view on a given situation, to imagine a large number of solutions to a same question, to go beyond its usual frameworks of thought, and to weave connections between elements with no apparent link.

Made up of eight types of cards, this 48-card game allows students to transpose information from one domain to another to find matches, and to change lenses and images. reason backwards.

The diversity of the cards multiplies the modes of thought that are written, visual by concrete or abstract images, conceptual, narrative, argumentated … The game makes it possible to mobilize in a very agile way various combinatorial, exploratory, associative or disruptive intellectual mechanisms …

Go off the beaten track

“The bus upside down” offers a plurality of question modes of question by varying the solicitation of participants, which can be illustrated by the example below.

The problem to be solved is the following: how to make teenagers aged 12-16 want to visit museums and art exhibitions?

If the teacher wishes to generate a lot of ideas by means of correspondence, he can start from the type of map “five senses” which is based on the five human senses (smell, taste, touch, hearing and sight)

Let’s say that the participant draws the “spicy taste” card.

  • First instruction: let yourself be invaded by the sensations and express the feelings that the word “spicy” conveys. Naturally and effortlessly, the following words can come to mind: spicy, hot, trip in orient, pepper, peppered, exotic, red …
  • Second instruction: associate one or more of the listed feelings with the problem to solve.

This is how the following avenues emerge: the visit should be made more “fun” by spicing it up with riddles, piquing young people’s curiosity with stories to be completed on the basis of the present paintings, electing the work of the most pungent art …

If the teacher wants to reason the student upside down and change his perspective, he can start from the type of card “360 °”.

Imagine that the participant draws the card “radically different from when”.

  • First instruction: consider the new temporal constraints – before going to school, when I do not have time, after the visit, before the visit, when I want, in ten times at no cost …
  • Second instruction: transform the stated constraints into new ideas to solve the problem.

This is how split visits with a single ticket, remote contact visits, or sports tours coupled with gym classes are planned.

Game and learnings

We tested in our courses, during creative workshops, or creativity workshops, the different cards of the “bus upside down”. The easiest cards for students to use are those of the five senses and VIPs with a preference of the participants for the latter. VIPs ask participants to decenter their thoughts by entering the world of a known person. The visual maps from which to build a story, real or imaginary, also have a strong evocative potential for generating ideas. On the other hand, the abstract visual cards remain difficult to use and they suppose a strong accompaniment by the teacher, animator of the session of creativity.

In the end, the game “The bus upside down” facilitates the generation of ideas (sometimes disruptive but not always) even if it requires an effort of appropriation by the teacher and the participants of the creative session.

In this sense, this game joins the work on gamification that shows that gambling is important and is an integral part of the learning process. With play, it is easier to learn and acquire knowledge, especially those related to the mechanisms of creativity ( Michel , 2017).

Educational innovations

The Bus in reverse thus participates in the movement of ludification of education. Among the existing games, we can cite the “Ludostorming” card game designed at ESC Chambéry as part of the Serious Lab for Innovation or “Tech it” project designed at Grenoble Ecole de Management as part of the IRT Nanoelec project .

Beyond the board games, the gamification of higher education also involves the establishment of innovative educational devices that put play and creativity at the heart of the learning system. The Promising teacher training program has spawned many educational innovations such as “The Beast of Gevaudan” which mixes participatory theater and creative narration to teach English or “Be Human in the Chaos” , a room game to learn how to manage relationships at work.

Thus, with play, it is easier to take different looks and accept innovative paths of thought ( Brown, 2008 ). It is also easier to actively engage students in their learning process ( Dehaene, 2018 ) and thus create a climate of trust.

Author Bio: Marie-Laurence Caron-Fasan is a University Professor in Management Sciences and Guy Parmentier is a Lecturer HDR Grenoble IAE both at University Grenoble Alpes