Exploration of bilingualism and the creative process through a problem solving model

Alexandra Spanakos, Fordham University


This study incorporated the framework of the Creative Problem Solving model (Treffinger, Isaksen, & Dorval, 2000) to investigate if Russian-English persons who are bilingual and English persons who are monolingual perform significantly differently on tasks representing stages (Idea-Finding and Solution-Finding) and processes (divergent and convergent thinking) of the model. Two hundred 7th and 8th grade students were selected from an urban public intermediate school based on teacher recommendations and guidance counselor review of school records. All participants were required to be in a gifted program and to have an 85 average in English, an 85 grade point average on the last report card, and scores of at least 1.5 years above grade level on standardized Reading and Mathematics tests. Potential bilingual participants were required to use both languages daily for communication, consider Russian their first language, and have acquired both languages in different contexts (with Russian learned at home and English learned in school). Persons who were bilingual and who met these criteria were administered the Basic Inventory of Natural Language-Russian (Herbert, 1970) to determine if they met the objective criteria for oral Russian proficiency (scoring in the upper end of limited speaker range). Monolingual and bilingual performances were compared on the 2-part Hypothesis Generating Test, which approximated the model's components and processes. The first part was a divergent thinking task representative of Idea-Finding. Divergent thinking was measured by 3 scores: fluency (total number of responses produced), flexibility (total number of different categories), and originality (number of statistically rare responses). For each of these processes, non-duplicating scores were calculated by adding the total number of non-repeated ideas (fluency), categories (flexibility), or rare responses (originality) generated across the 5 trials. The second part was a convergent thinking task representative of Solution-Finding. Convergent thinking was measured by 2 scores: was any correct answer obtained (Any correct answer), and if so, was it the best answer (Best answer)? Analyses of variance revealed no significant differences between bilingual and monolingual groups on measures of divergent thinking. However, bilingual participants outscored monolingual participants on a measure of convergent thinking.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Cognitive therapy|Bilingual education|Multicultural education

Recommended Citation

Spanakos, Alexandra, "Exploration of bilingualism and the creative process through a problem solving model" (2001). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3021716.