Incorporating Inventive Thinking in the Middle School Life Science Curriculum

Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Delores B. Gallo


This thesis consists of a series of inventive thinking activities designed to be integrated into a year-long middle school life science curriculum. The term inventive thinking is used to describe the process needed to address an ambiguous or open-ended problem, whereby students are required to identify and seek out the needed givens and goals, plus the appropriate rules and operations for solving the problems or completing the task. The inventive process combines the analytical, evaluative skills and attitudes of critical thinking with the generative, synthetic skills and attitudes of creative thinking with the goal of producing a product. The product may be a model, design, plan or physical object; it must be original to the student; and it must solve the assigned problem. Drawing upon the literature of critical and creative thinking, inventive thinking, science education, and girls in science, the thesis offers a firm theoretical framework for the inventive thinking projects and for the necessity of embedding them into the year-long curriculum and into the methods of teaching used on a daily basis. Furthermore, the curriculum into which the inventive thinking activities are integrated is included. Nine inventive thinking projects are presented and discussed within these frameworks. Three of them are described in detail, with teaching strategies and evaluative processes delineated to serve as an example upon which other teachers can build their own work. Selected writings from students' journals, reports, and project presentations demonstrate continual development and successful use of critical and creative thinking skills, point out areas of content mastery, and evidence the presence of relevant traits and attitudes for excellent science education. An especially rewarding feature of this inventive thinking approach, which has now been in use for three years, has been the help it has provided for girls to regain self-esteem, to enjoy scientific thinking, and to stay engaged in science. Teachers are encouraged and aided in this thesis to use inventive thinking projects as a vital part of their middle school science curricula.


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