Laboratory for Thinking, Reasoning, Creativity & Educational Neuroscience


EDHD 414 The Development of the Scientific Mind Across the Lifespan
Science permeates all aspects of our lives, yet science and science education continue to be controversial across all levels of our society. Climate change, Autism, Evolution, Diet, and determining whether our drinking water is safe are but a few of the scientific topics that we wrestle with every day. Is there something special about science and scientific thinking?  How do children acquire scientific concepts?  Can children think scientifically and how do they learn, use, and understand science. What happens when our scientific concepts are wrong?  What is the difference in understanding of scientific concepts different ages? How should science be taught? The goal of this course is to address these questions. We will probe the educational, cognitive, social, and cultural factors that underlie our use of scientific concepts and reasoning. Other goals of the course are to answer questions such as: What is science? Is there such a thing as the scientific method, and what you need to know about the nature of science as a student? How do scientists make discoveries? Are there differences between women and men scientists and students and are they important? How is science learned and taught? Is the human mind/brain wired for science? What is the media’s role in science and science education? How do science politics and culture interact? Can science be trusted? We will explore these topics by probing contemporary science, education, development, and culture in a lively and up-to-date fashion.  Using lectures, debates, student led discussions, and presentations we  explore these issues in a lively interactive manner. Course Structure: Two classes per week incorporating lectures, student discussions and presentations.

EDHD 231 Inside 21st Century Creativity: How Creative Ideas, Concepts, & Products are Generated
We are born into a world of limitless possibility: Music, Art, & Multimedia are central to contemporary creativity in areas as diverse as Literature, Science, Dance, The visual Arts, Cooking, and Advertising. We hear of Brainstorming, Crowdsourcing, Smart Drugs and Digital Citizens. Do these things  make us more creative? Furthermore, the human species is capable of causing great destruction in endlessly creative ways. What underlies these vastly different aspects of the creative mind and creativity in our networked world?  In a highly interactive, inter-disciplinary and multimedia (video and sound) manner we will examine the nature of the creative mind and creative contexts from multiple perspectives. We will consider the psychological, social, sociological, developmental, cultural, computational, educational, and biological roots of creativity. We ask what are the factors and mechanisms underlying creativity and whether 21st century creativity is different from creativity in other eras. Finally, what are the roles of social media, copying, and theft in 21st century creativity?

Course objectives. EDHD231 students will demonstrate:

1. An understanding of both the nature and breadth of creativity. The focus will be on the underlying mechanisms of the creative process across multiple contexts and domains;

2. An understanding of the history of creativity research and how this relates to theories of cognitive, social and cultural processes as well as the ways that creativity has been measured;

3. Understanding of the roles of biological processes in creative thought, including brain based mechanisms that influence creativity and genetic and neurochemical factors influencing creativity;

4. Understanding of the different forms that creativity takes in different domains, such as music, the visual arts, different cultures, performing arts, and different sciences;

5. Understanding of the concept of “malevolent creativity,” where creativity is used to do harm. How to prevent this from happening and determine whether “creativity gone bad” taps a different form of creative imagination;

6. Understanding of ways in which creativity can be enhanced: Educational, pharmaceutical, and social engineering have all been used to enhance creativity; do they work and how would we know if they work?