Creative thinking in mathematics education

Friday 6 October 2023, 10:30 am
PhD student
I.C. de Vink MSc.
prof. dr. E.H. Kroesbergen, prof. dr. A.W. Lazonder

Worldwide, there is a growing focus on creativity in education, driven by the understanding that creative thinking and learning are closely linked. This is also important when teaching arithmetic and maths. When students are asked to solve a maths problem, it helps if they first think of different possible strategies or solutions (divergent thinking), and then evaluate the different options and choose an approach (convergent thinking). Previous research has mostly looked at divergent thinking, but not so much at convergent thinking and how students can best be supported in thinking creatively. This PhD thesis investigates these topics among Group 7 pupils (10-11-year-olds). Research has shown that many children find it difficult to think creatively when doing a maths task. This is especially the case for children who find maths difficult. Conversely, however, children who are better able to think creatively also perform better on various maths tasks. In this study, we succeeded in supporting children's divergent thinking through different strategies. The choice of strategy depends on which aspect of divergent thinking is supported. Choosing the right task is also important: problems with multiple solutions offer more room for creative thinking. 

Isabelle Oostveen-de Vink (1994) obtained her Bachelor's degree in Pedagogical Sciences and her Research Master's degree in Educational Sciences from Utrecht University. In 2019, she started her PhD research on creativity in mathematics education under the supervision of Professor Evelyn Kroesbergen and Professor Ard Lazonder. She continues her work as an Assistant Professor at the University of Amsterdam, where she is active in the study programme in Pedagogical Sciences, the Research Master and the academic teacher training programme. Her research focuses on mathematics education and the skills associated with arithmetic competences.