Communicating Creativity (Com459)
Summer Session I – Online/Asynchronous

Dineh Davis, Ph.D.  Associate Professor
Office hours:  Will be posted each week on WebCT’s home page
All course times, deadlines, etc., are Hawaii Standard Time regardless of student or faculty location!
Chats:  Optional for group work; no instructor chats; option available for voluntary student to student interactions

How did the concept of creativity reveal itself in various cultures over time?  Does creativity occur only on special occasions, or to those with a certain talent?  Is the concept of creativity limited to certain fields or endeavors or excluded from others?  Can someone be labeled "creative" if s/he is not acknowledged by society for the creative act? Ultimately, how do creative thoughts turn into action or any other form of communication in our personal and professional lives? What are some policy issues within various cultural boundaries that hamper or support the individual’s creative flow in research and education?

Course Objectives:  To discover the many ways in which humans have defined creativity through communication:  in verbal and nonverbal domains; as expressed by individuals; and as defined by societies.  This systematic and theory-based study will focus on the link between creative outlets and cultural paths that acknowledge - by either rewarding or extinguishing - the creative spirit through various communication outlets in our environment.

This Summer '05 offering will follow the Outreach College theme on “A Voyage of Discovery: A Look to the Past.”  There is always a trade-off and a need for balance between honoring and preserving the best of our traditions, yet leaving room for future growth and adaptation – a critical search for balance that will inspire the best in our quest for personal, professional, communal, global, and universal achievements.

The following required (primary) text is available at the bookstore or via Outreach (or

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1996) Creativity : flow and the psychology of discovery and invention.  New York : HarperCollins Publishers.

(If you are primarily taking this course to learn more about your own creative growth, you will also enjoy two other works by the same author:  Flow; and The Evolving Self.)

A selected bibliography is included for additional reading. Students should have no difficulty with researching appropriate academic sources from the Internet.  For example, on alone, there are well over 12000 scholarly references on the intersection of creativity, communication, and culture!  Hamilton library's online resources are available via The Voyager and the students are expected to carry on a variety of "live" research as well for primary-source information.

Weeks & Topics
    (& Grading)

Course Elements
Weekly points
Semester Total
Threaded Discussions
Individual Projects
Small Group Projects
WI papers/nonWI quizzes
Semester Assessment

Your course grade will be based on a cumulative 100 points of the standard grading system.  "Plus and Minus" grades will be assigned as necessary.  This cumulative system (as opposed to averaging) allows for self-monitoring of steady progress and consistent contributions on a weekly basis.  You will earn 15 points per week, each week, for a total of 90 points.  The final 10 points is reserved for a general assessment for the entire semester, allowing for some discretion by the instructor to adjust the final grade, if necessary.  Please be sure to review my policy on contributions and note the potential for "negative participation" as well.  Every week we will have a combination of the following elements:

     a.  Threaded discussions on that week’s topic(s).  There will always be at least one "required" thread – which is likely to be based on your book reading assignment (Csikszentmihalyi’s Creativity) (5 points for all, additional 5 points for formal papers for WI students - to which non-WI students respond as necessary)

    b.  Individual projects:  games and play-time.  These are based on a variety of activities; but you’ll need to choose at least ONE activity per week. These are independent projects or contributions. (2 points).

    c.  Small group projects:  interactive sessions; small group work.  Each group is self-selected and does not need to remain together for more than one week or one project:  choose one or more of your classmates and either have a WebCT-based real-time experience (as on Chat) or find your own mutually agreeable way to work out a particular problem to solve.  The choice of the problem is yours and the solution needs to come from a jointly creative perspective.  Students should take turns in leading the group activity with their partner(s).  At least one such rotation per person (to take the leadership role) is required for the semester. (3 points)

    d.  Quizzes (optional for WI students; required for non-WI students):  For WI students: If your contribution to the threaded discussion has not been substantial per instructor’s assessment, you may choose to take a quiz for that week to boost your grade.  However, the only way you qualify for this "make-up" exam is if you had already contributed on time in the first place.  In other words, this exam-taking is not in place of threaded discussions, but in addition to it, if you wish to raise your grade.  You will have at least one week to prepare for such exams. (5 points per week maximum; to make up for deficiency in weekly discussion portion of assignments only).  These exams are required for all non-WI students.

    e.  Formal papers (required for WI students only; optional for non-WI students).  Works in reverse of item "d" above, in that all WI students are required to write a formal paper each week on a creative topic of their own choice (preferably based on additional readings or value-added synthesis of existing online discussions as they relate to previously published work on creativity); whereas non-WI students have the option to write papers to make up for less-than perfect scores on their weekly quizzes.  Consistent with above procedures, papers do not replace quiz-taking; rather, they can only make up lower-than-maximum grade on a quiz already taken.

Grading:  To sum up the grading: Each week’s effort is equivalent to 15% of the course grade.  This leaves a final 10% in the final week for my general assessment of your work, which is primarily based on the consistency with which you approached the course work (approximately two points per week) and your personal integrity and perseverance in accomplishing your own goals without infringing on other’s ability to learn alongside of you.  (In other words, cooperation and collaboration go hand-in-hand with your free spirit of individualism and independent creativity!)

Week 1:  From imagination to communication:  Who are the participants in this seminar and what do we want from this experience?  Structure and content of the course and room for flexibility based on participants’ needs and inclinations.  Does creativity exist beyond its external manifestations?  (Is it real if it’s not communicated?  Understood?  Accepted?)

Theoretical foundations for creativity and how this concept is communicated to us throughout a lifespan:  Commonalities across disciplines and cultures.  Tools for creativity; predispositions and learned behaviors for using them.  Along with required readings, students are encouraged to become familiar with the concepts of multiple intelligences, emotional intelligence, and flow (see bibliography on Gardner, Goldman, and Csikszentmihalyi respectively).  Or, if you prefer to jump-start with a short-hand "view," see videotape 17995 at Sinclair’s Wong A/V Center on Optimizing Intelligences any time during the first week (or watch it later for your own benefit, in any case!).

Individual contributions:  in addition to responses to readings each student needs to select a personal "Show & Tell" topic as well as a "Show & Interact" topic:  These can be current events; research-inspired; personal observations that demand academic validation; or a puzzlement (though not a puzzle!).  Then you can decide if this chosen topic lends itself to group work or not.  If it’s a solitary contribution, then leave it as such and simply "share" your findings with others.  If there seems to be some benefit to working with one or more persons to further develop (or "transform" or change) the outcome, then take the initiative to find a classmate to help you with the process and presentation of the task and you will both receive the credit for that project.  Because this kind of tracking down a classmate online is likely to be more labor-intensive, your grade is accordingly valued more on my weekly grading scheme.  

Study groups:  For those who don’t feel particularly "creative" in this online context, you may wish to begin your group work in the context of a "study group" and explore joint ways to represent some of your learning online.  By reading every other class member’s background (required on either a home-page or the first week’s threaded discussion on participant information, to the extent that it will affect their participation in the class) you might find others whose skills or talents complement your own and ask to see if they will participate in a study group with you.

For Group projects, please review list of classmates and make decisions based on joining those you do NOT know.  You may also wish to try forming new groups each week.  This will provide maximum effect for everyone! The Chat option will also be available for interaction among students, though students are personally responsible for setting up their own appointments with each other.  Those interactions will be completely independent of instructor participation at any level.

Week 2:  Communicating creativity in everyday life, from pure play, through the mundane to the significant.  Theories of brain organization.  Role of formal and informal education & "lifelong learning."  We will begin to discuss the text and continue to explore theories of creativity throughout the semester.  In addition to the required text, students should choose their own individual projects for each week and share their research activities with the class throughout the semester.  Group work will continue with some guided and some open-ended options.

Course content is cumulative.  Nothing is "shut down" though we will move on to new materials each week and may not respond to postings from prior weeks unless they have been "moved forward" to a new week.  Knowledge expectations, however, are cumulative!  This paragraph may seem redundant as it repeats under each week; but it's there as a huge CLUE that this is an important message!

Examinations and exercises may be posted from Week 2 on, to allow students to increase their weekly grade by a maximum of five points in the portion of the grade associated with threaded discussions.  This does NOT take the place of weekly discussion contributions; as the exam will not be offered to those who have not bothered to take the time to contribute to the weekly discussions.  This is merely a device to accommodate different learning preferences and occasional lapses of judgment!  It is intended as a safety-net to minimize stress for over-achievers and cover for the occasional mishap that comes our way in Real Life!

Week 3:  Culture, Tradition & creativity:  Are certain traditions and cultures inherently opposing forces to creativity?  How do mediated forms of communication help change or stabilize a cultural image?

Week 4:  Communicating creativity with a "Capital C" & Discussion of Csikszentmihalyi’s theory of Creativity in the context of cultural memes.

Communicating creativity in the visual arts & a cultural perspective on "media literacy.

Week 5:  Creating knowledge:  the "optimal creativity" philosophy and role of culture in communicating and mediating the need for conformity and fixity; change and revitalization.

Week 6:  Communicating our needs: creating our futures.  Who is in charge of our future(s)? Where does this future begin?

Please note:  Course content is cumulative.  Nothing is "shut down" though we will move on to new materials each week and may not respond to postings from prior weeks unless they have been "moved forward" to a new week.  Knowledge expectations, however, are cumulative!