Creativity has been defined by researchers as a mixture of nature and nurture. The study of creativity has been addressed by multiple disciplines, such as business, architecture, mathematics, design, etc., either from their own disciplinary perspectives or as a general research topic. These studies have focused on how to stimulate creativity, how creativity unfolds in diverse processes, how to stimulate creativity within individuals, and how creativity is viewed and affected by society. However, researchers are still in the process of trying to get a better understanding of creativity.
Currently, my research is focused on new digital media and technological devices impacting creativity within the design process. The design process is an excellent example of creative thinking used to solve wicked problems present in all Social Sciences. The way the design process unfolds and the influence of traditional design tools have been extensively studied since the 1960s. These tools have been defined as critical in moving the design process forward. The issue is that new digital tools are currently changing the way wicked problems are tackled within the design process. Furthermore, current design students rely mainly on digital media to unfold their design process. These statements are acute since the way design is taught must adapt to this transition to effectively satisfy new students’ needs. Protocol analysis is a methodology frequently used to research the design process. By recording the process and coding the multiple steps for analysis, researchers can understand what triggers creative actions. Currently, my research uses this methodology, enhanced with physiological tools to better triangulate data analysis. Through the use of psycho-physiological tools such as fNIR (Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy), EDA (Electro dermal Activity), ECG (electrocardiography) and eye-tracking, I am able to collect data through multiple sources within the creative process which pinpoint high cognitive load conditions, sensory arousal or unexpected occurrences linked with creativity.
My research will help adapt design practices to evolving technological advances. Technology affects every aspect of our existence. In previous research, digital media tools were deemed as restrictive for the creative process but since then, these tools have changed becoming more intuitive. Research on the influence of these tools in creative thinking will help refine creative processes and develop new and more efficient digital tools. I am aware that the scope of my research relates to the specific practice of design, nonetheless, findings on the pedagogical influence of digital media tools, such as Virtual and Augmented Reality on creativity can be applied to many disciplines.
After leading an Industrial Design Program for 12 years, and teaching design practices to undergraduate and graduate students for 15 years, I observed the transition of creative practices from traditional to digital mediums. This observation ignited my interest to better understand the influence of digital media in the creative design processes. However, my research only began upon my arrival to fulfill my doctoral studies at Oklahoma State University (OSU) in fall 2017. Over this time frame, I have done multiple presentations in regional, national and international conferences related to technology and creativity. I have collaborated in multiple events to better understand how the creative mind works. I have published two articles in peer reviewed journals, and I am currently pending for final acceptance of a revised article in the Journal of Interior Design. My research and dedication allowed me to receive a grant from the International Furnishings and Design Association, and the become the Ph.D. outstanding doctorate student for the College of Human Sciences in 2020.
My dissertation, focused on how different levels of embodiment in VR affect spatial skills and idea generation. In this study, I was able tu support how VR has great academic advantages, such as improving spatial skills in design education. I believe on the relevance of digital media in creative ideation processes. Digital mediums (such as VR and AR) permit the enhancement of creative thinking by liberating cognitive load in the design process. Furthermore, the combination of traditional and digital media tools creates a more dynamic system that enhances creative moments. As educators, we must understand the influence of such combinations to better stimulate creative thinking.
I intend my research outcomes to delineate curricular advances in design education. As a researcher and educator, I would like to expand my research by implementing methodological changes and studying the impact of such changes in design students. Furthermore, I will research ways in which the use of new technological devices and digital media, can overlap creative design methodologies among other disciplines and multiple educational backgrounds. As I stated at the beginning of this statement, I am convinced that creativity is by nature within us; we just need to know how to nurture it.
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