Brainstorming: applying the method to curriculum implementation

22 March, 2022

What distinguishes an experienced businessman from an average entrepreneur? The ability to find a non-standard solution when a difficult situation arises. One of the most popular and effective ways of searching is the brainstorming method.  It is rightfully considered a promising form of learning activity that can be applied to different age groups. Trying to interest students and develop their creativity, many teachers use brainstorming in the classroom. They find that using the technique is appropriate for all subjects and helps them improve their skills in write an essay.

What is brainstorming?

Let’s understand what brainstorming is. The term refers to a method based on intelligence and creativity that allows you to develop non-standard ways to solve a problem. In the process, participants suggest a large number of different options, from which the best ones are then chosen.  From 10 to 15% of suggestions can be interesting.

Brainstorming is an excellent way to involve all participants in the group. In the course of discussion their creative activity is stimulated, the desire to express the opinion on a concrete question is induced. The method is actively used not only in business, but also in the learning process. It allows students to feel their success, to believe in their competence in the intellectual plan. Thanks to this material is absorbed much faster, and the learning process becomes more productive.

Alex Osborn is considered to be the founder of the method. Back in 1941 he was the first to suggest a way of fast problem solving by stimulating active discussion. He noticed that with a large number of suggestions discussion participants can quickly find the best variant. The copywriter of an American advertising agency put forward his observations in the book “Applied Imagination” which later became a visual aid not only for company managers, but also for teachers of various educational institutions.

Traditionally, brainstorming is divided into three stages, which differ in organization and rules of conduct. Below we discuss them in more detail.

About brainstorming in the learning process

As we have already mentioned, Alex Osborne’s methodology is often used by teachers at various educational institutions. They use it to achieve various goals. Brainstorming helps:

  • stimulate the creative activity of schoolchildren or students;

  • to teach participants of the group to apply available theoretical knowledge in practice;

  • to activate the activity of students in the classroom;

  • to teach students to form their own opinions about the issue under discussion;

  • to develop the ability to concentrate on finding an actual and simple way to solve a problem;

  • to form the necessary professional and life skills in the group;

  • to teach students to work in a team, to be tolerant to the points of view of others, to respect the opinions of other participants of the class.

Experienced teachers recommend topics for brainstorming sessions that are interesting for students and allow them to develop their creative and research potential. The instructor should ensure that the problem posed to the participants has as many solutions as possible. This will allow all students to be involved in their search and discussion.

From the above it can be concluded that the main purpose of conducting training sessions and using brainstorming is to develop creative, out-of-the-box thinking in students.

Students attending brainstorming sessions learn to express their thoughts briefly and clearly, to work productively in a team, to look for new, unconventional approaches to problem solving. As a result, the class is an active form that differs significantly from standard lessons.

The method helps teachers to support a lagging or insecure student in the class, to increase their self-esteem. The supervisor is assigned certain tasks. He has to:

  • tell the participants of the groups about the rules of brainstorming, monitor their observance at each stage;

  • participate in the discussion;

  • propose non-standard ways of solving the problem, especially important in cases where group members fail to unlock their creative potential.

Brainstorming is actively used in work with children of primary and secondary school age. Such classes are conducted in the form of a business game.

A standard brainstorming lesson looks like this:

  • groups of 7 to 9 students are formed;

  • pupils are given a preliminary consultation;

  • the teacher appoints a facilitator for each group; if they wish, students may choose them themselves or agree that each of them will take turns in playing this role and will monitor compliance with the rules

  • a secretary is chosen from the group to record the suggestions made;

  • the pupils discuss the rules and specify the conditions of the task.

Preparation concludes with the definition of time for the first stage. On average, it lasts 20 minutes.

How lessons are taught: the basic steps

Classes with the method of brainstorming are conducted in several stages. Let’s consider each of them in detail:

  1. Problem Statement. The participants are presented with a task, for which they have to find a solution. The distribution of roles among the participants depends on the specifics of the task and the form of brainstorming that the teacher plans to use.

  2. Ideas generation.  It is believed that the quality of the result depends on the correctness of this stage. Participants are encouraged to propose as many ways of solving the problem as possible. Even ideas that at first glance seem absurd are accepted for discussion. The most interesting variants can be improved or combined. The main thing is not to criticize each other and not to give any grades to the proposed options.

  3. Selection of the best ideas, their systematization and evaluation. This is the time of summing up, when all the work done is brought to a common denominator. At this stage, the suggestions voiced by the group members are analyzed. They can (and should) be criticized and evaluated. The success of the final phase depends on the coherence of the work of the students.

Traditionally, in brainstorming sessions, participants are divided into two groups. The first group is composed of students who are supposed to act as generators of ideas. Their task is to scrutinize the task and try to offer their own, non-standard variant of its solution. As for the second team, its members analyze and process the voiced suggestions.

About Brainstorming Methods

Brainstorming sessions can be conducted according to different scenarios. In fact, there are several types of brainstorming methods:

  1. Individual. The name speaks for itself. The participant is one person who proposes options for solving the problem and evaluates them himself.

  2. Reverse. Initially, participants are tasked with exaggerating the negative aspects of the problem as much as possible. Then they look for ways to eliminate the voiced “disadvantages. Not only real, existing disadvantages are taken into account, but also potential ones.

  3. Assault with the evaluation of the options voiced. Experts consider this method one of the most difficult. High requirements are imposed on the participants of the groups. They should be well-versed in the area in which the tasks are set. In this case, the generation of ideas is conducted individually and in advance. Then the participants of brainstorming are introduced to the proposed options. After choosing several interesting solutions, the group starts discussing them. All the advantages and disadvantages of the proposals are discussed. Gradually the list of alternatives is narrowed, and they are ranked.

  4. Brain siege. The method reduces the risk that a good proposal will be rejected and subject to undeserved criticism. To prevent this from happening, this type of brainstorming involves developing every idea voiced to the end. The method provides a way of solving a problem that is supported by evidence and arguments.

  5. 635. Six people take part in the class. Each of them makes three proposals in five minutes. In the next stage, the participants exchange ideas with each other and, for the next five minutes, examine their opponent’s proposals. As a result, in half an hour of work, the participants in the group receive 18 detailed options for solving the problem, which are then discussed. The result of the discussion is a selection of the best ideas.

  6. Ship’s Council. Proposing ways of solving the problem is conducted in order of hierarchy, from the “junior” to the “captain”. Each of them can voice only one idea.

There is also online brainstorming, which has become relevant for use in the learning process after the periodic introduction of quarantine and the transition of educational institutions to remote learning. Studying problems and suggesting ways to solve them is done with the help of any convenient Internet service.

The main advantages of using the brainstorming method

Many philosophers, sociologists and authors speak of the “pluses” of brainstorming when performing thesis writing service. The right selection of the method and its application really allows educators and business leaders to quickly achieve the expected result. Among the main advantages are called:

  1. Team cohesion. It is known that working together and working to find the best way to solve problems brings us closer together.

  2. Nurturing the “ability to listen.” Unfortunately, not everyone is able to respect the opinion of others. Some people find it difficult not only to accept another person’s opinion but also to simply listen to him or her. Regular classes with the use of brainstorming techniques can help solve this problem.

  3. Developing creativity. Many creative people are shy, and they are not ready to speak out loud about their ability to find out-of-the-box solutions to a problem. Exactly brainstorming helps them open up and develop their talents.

There are also other “pluses” of applying brainstorming methods in practice. They depend on the team in which the sessions are held, and on the purpose of the exercise itself. In any case, the usefulness of the brainstorming method has been proven time and again. With the right choice of method and organization of group work, it is possible to achieve really high results. The main thing is to strictly follow the rules of the organization of the class, which we talked about in the article.

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