Convergent and Divergent
Hudson (1967) studied English schoolboys, and found that conventional measures of intelligence did not always do justice to their abilities. The tests gave credit for problem-solving which produced the “right” answer, but under-estimated creativity and unconventional approaches to problems.
He concluded that there were two different forms of thinking or ability in play here:
- One he called “convergent” thinking, in which the person is good at bringing material from a variety of sources to bear on a problem, in such a way as to produce the “correct” answer. This kind of thinking is particularly appropriate in science, maths and technology.
- Because of the need for consistency and reliability, this is really the only form of thinking which standardised intelligence tests, (and even national exams) can test
- The other he termed “divergent” thinking. Here the student’s skill is in broadly creative elaboration of ideas prompted by a stimulus, and is more suited to artistic pursuits and study in the humanities.
- In order to get at this kind of thinking, he devised open-ended tests, such as the “Uses of Objects” test
Uses of Objects Test
Below are five everyday objects. Think of as many different uses as you can for each:
- A barrel
- A paper clip
- A tin of boot polish
- A brick
- A blanket
(No time limit: usually completed in 15 minutes)
From Hudson 1967
See the use Kolb makes of this distinction in discussing forms of knowledge