S9-IC3-1 - Perspectives on the use of Serious-Storytelling for Creative Thinking Awareness in Engineering

2. Research-to-Practice Full Paper
Patricia Caratozzolo1 , Alvaro Alvarez-Delgado2, Samira Hosseini3
1 School of Engineering and Science, Tecnologico de Monterrey. Ciudad de Mexico, Mexico
2 School of Social Sciences, Tecnologico de Monterrey. Ciudad de Mexico, Mexico
3 WritingLab, TecLabs, Vice Rectory of Research and Technology Transfer, Tecnologico de Monterrey, Monterrey, Mexico

This Research-to-Practice Full Paper discusses the use of the Serious-Storytelling approach for enhancing soft skills that are decisive for the development of new job opportunities for young engineers. The importance of soft skills in engineering has been studied for many years by academic researchers. However, it has not been until very recently that the need for introducing innovative and effective ways to develop critical thinking and creativity among the Generation Z students was greatly felt. Generation Z students arrive at college having varying levels of communication skills and narrative habits –including texting and short messages in social-network platforms - that weaken the force of their argumentations, hinder their vocabulary acquisition, and fail to contribute to the development of their soft skills. Both, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD, in its Future of Education and Skills 2030 document, and the World Economic Forum, WEF, in its Towards a Reskilling Revolution report, emphasize the need to include new cognitive tools for the complete development of soft skills that Generation Z engineers will need, due to two fundamental factors: (i) the strong consolidation of social networks means an unexpected difference in the way new graduates see the world, think about public and private affairs and define themselves; and (ii) the exponential development of technology (5G networks, blockchain, augmented reality, AI-enabled platforms, etc.)  became accessible to them. Some studies referring the use of the Serious-Storytelling approach for enhancing soft skills in engineering were reviewed and analyzed. In addition, a comparison was made between those studies that specifically specialized in the use of storytelling as a collaborative tool to develop the construction of knowledge through the exercise of coherent discourses; and the use of storytelling to counteract the tendency of Generation Z students to be distracted by technology. The present work was based on the importance of the development of those cognitive and metacognitive skills that enable the use of language, verbal expressiveness, higher-order thinking skills as necessary components to enhance creativity in the educational field. Regarding the conceptual framework, the study was based on two cognitive theories: Bruner’s theory of cognitive functioning; and Dewey’s theory of the development of the mind. Serious-Storytelling cognitive tools were adapted for the design of critical reading and critical writing co-curricular activities and were included as active learning experiences in different engineering programs. The research was conducted based upon a 4-group Solomon methodology with a quantitative design and a sample of 182 engineering students divided into an experimental group (119 students) and a control group (63 students). To assess creative thinking competencies, different evaluation instruments were used for PreTests and PostTest, including several tests: vocabulary level, lateral thinking ability, fluency and originality; as well as storytelling articulateness ability tests and modified VALUE rubrics of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). The obtained results showed that the designed Serious-Storytelling approach promoted a better understanding of scientific concepts in engineering subjects, a higher capability to develop communicative skills and a stronger creative thinking competence awareness.