S2-IC1-2 - Exploring Creativity Expectation in CS1 Students' View of Programming

3. Research Full Paper
Ville Isomöttönen1 , Antti-Jussi Lakanen1, Paavo Nieminen1
1 Faculty of Information Technology, University of Jyväskylä

Full paper in Research category: Literature provides creativity definitions that are applicable to educational settings. For example, the definition by Plucker et al. emphasizes the `social context' in which the usefulness and novelty of a creative outcome is evaluated, and notes that this emphasis allows students' coursework to be deemed creative without extraordinary characteristics. Computing educators tend to assume that in-coming CS course populations welcome creativity, and utilize application contexts (e.g., games, media, arts, and robots) in which creativity is a central attribute. Previous research also suggests that beginner CS students may initially possess versatile identities regarding what computing will entail. This article seeks to provide further evidence for creativity expectation among students starting a CS1 course, looking at how and to what extent creativity is acknowledged. This agenda was observed to be possible using a large data set (N=1,946, eight-year period) in which students at the very beginning of their computing studies characterized what programming is. Qualitatively different creativity-related categories were identified and frequencies for these categories were counted in a sample of 240 respondents. Further content analysis was applied to the remaining data by using word searches. The categories identified were: freedom to create and express, creativity needed in problem solving, programming as a circumstance for personalized activity, associations with arts, creative innovations, tolerance to open-ended situations,  aesthetics and elegance of programming, and programming as a flow-like activity. In the sample of 240, 59% of the data was interpreted to refer to creativity, and among the word-searched portion of the data, nearly one-third was interpreted to indicate it. The illustrations and the numbers of references support educators' assumptions as they consider introducing creativity-related education.