Cara Tuttle

Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Robert Ricketts

Second Advisor

Jeremy Szteiter


Frequent digital distractions can hamper undergraduate design students’ ability to perform the kind of deeper level thinking needed for creative problem solving and creative output, yet there are tools that can help students focus on the present and delve deeper into their creative work. This paper focuses on the details of a pedagogical toolbox created for educators of undergraduate design students to target critical thinking, creative thinking, and conceptual thinking (the 3Cs) in order to improve creative output. I explain how critical, creative, and conceptual thinking work holistically to develop and promote creative output. By demonstrating 3Cs tools and activities, I provide educators with ideas and methods for challenging students to be present, think creatively and critically, and build conceptual awareness. Through testing, refinement, and adaptation of the tools, I collect data through student surveys and compare creative output results between control groups for one particular tool. I aim to prove that creative output is not fixed, but can be developed and strengthened with practice, time, and the right tools. Customization of the toolbox tailored to what is most effective for individual educators’ pedagogy, course content, and students’ critical, creative, and conceptual thinking abilities is explained. This paper also acknowledges our reliance on digital technology and how it can be leveraged to engage creative thinking in the virtual spaces where students spend their time.