The effects of facilitated incubation on fourth graders' creative writing

Ellen Louise Medd, Fordham University


Incubation is a term used to describe a period of time when an individual temporarily leaves an unsolved problem. During this time away from the problem, it is hypothesized that “unconscious work” is going on which may result in a positive incubation effect. Facilitated incubation occurs when a cue is given during an incubation period that consciously brings the individual's awareness back to the unresolved problem. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of facilitated incubation upon creative writing. An additional purpose was to investigate the differential effects of type of task that subjects were asked to work on during the incubation interval. Subjects were given an activity that was either related to or unrelated to the initial creative writing task during the incubation period. Fifty fourth-grade students participated in the study. All subjects completed one verbal subtest from the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT). Then the subjects were randomly placed into one of 5 groups. All subjects participated in a 10-minute creative writing exercise. Then 4 of the groups received a 10-minute incubation interval. Two of these groups received an activity that was related to the initial writing task while the other 2 groups worked on an unrelated activity. Halfway through the incubation interval, 2 of the treatment groups, 1 related and 1 unrelated, were told to think about the initial writing activity because they would be asked to add more to their stories. After the incubation period, the 4 treatment groups spent another 10 minutes working on the initial writing activity. The 5th, the control group, continued to work on the creative writing exercise for a total of 20 minutes. To assess group equality prior to the experiment, 1-way analyses of variance were computed using the TTCT results and school achievement test scores. There were no significant differences found among the 5 groups. Pearson correlations and univariate ANOVA were computed to test the hypotheses. The results of the study suggested that the facilitated incubation groups did better than the control or the other treatment groups. However, very low interrater reliability of the judges' ratings severely limits any conclusions of this study.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Rhetoric|Composition|Elementary education

Recommended Citation

Medd, Ellen Louise, "The effects of facilitated incubation on fourth graders' creative writing" (2002). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3040400.