Sweet solitude

Does working in a group increase innovation? Or do too many cooks make a boring broth?

Write about what?

switzerland1Does group work encourage creativity? Not according to the art and writing instructors that I surveyed determine which classroom environments induced creativity. Encouraging students to work in groups is suppose to improve creativity, but most instructors observed the opposite result.

More unique ideas surfaced when the learners worked on projects individually. Students collaborating in groups did not seem able to piggyback on each others’ ideas to produce elaborate and sophisticated products. Sometimes everyone followed a leader’s instruction, but the leader rarely was the most creative person. Others spent time in long discussions. Then, under time pressures they put together something that had already been done before and therefore was already familiar to the group. In a few cases, the  disagreement between members caused the end product to appear piecemeal and shoddy.

Brainstorming has been touted as the way for groups to multiply innovative thinking in the workplace. Groups sessions produce more…

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One Response to Sweet solitude

  1. Sandra Soli says:

    Kathleen, I enjoyed these very much, especially this piece about working in groups or in solitude. I studied with the Iowa program May-October last year, and there was never time enough to work in groups, though we had been led to expect that. It’s a remarkably aggressive course with four segments: fiction, nonfiction, playwiting and poetry. In addition to the lectures and readings, students were responsible for generating 1,500 words per week. It is an annual FREE class, but it flat wore me out. I was invited back this year, as I am sure everyone was, but I opted out. Thanks for these interesting blogs. Hope to see you soon.

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