Ph.D Thesis

Ph.D StudentMorad Sigal
SubjectPerceptions and Characteristics of Innovative Thinking
Among Pre-Service Teachers in the Scientific and
Humanistic Fields
DepartmentDepartment of Education in Science and Technology
Supervisors PROF. Miriam Barak
DR. Noa Ragonis
Full Thesis textFull thesis text - English Version


Innovation is an engine of growth and an important competency in the 21st-century. Innovative thinking skills of future teachers in the educational system is significant for cultivating their students as well. The few existing definitions of innovative thinking are diverse and general. Furthermore, no previous studies were conducted among pre-service teachers, nor compared between scientific and humanistic fields.

The study's goal is threefold: to generate an integrative model of innovation and innovative thinking constructs; to develop a valid and reliable instrument for measuring innovative thinking skills in relation to education; to examine differences between scientific and humanistic pre-service teachers' self-perceptions as innovative thinkers, definitions of innovative thinking and perceptions of their innovative thinking skills.

The research applied a mixed methods design. The preliminary study begun with sampling of 100 definitions of innovation from various disciplines and academic sources, and continued with a four-stage quantitative study among 743 pre-service teachers and ten educators from two high-education institutions in Israel. The main study was carried-out among pre-service teachers who specialize in the scientific (N=172) and humanistic (N=179) fields. The quantitative self-report questionnaire included also open-ended questions, analyzed by components of innovative thinking definition tool, and reflective drawing analysis.

The preliminary study's findings produced of five components - cognitive competencies in an innovative thinking process: to define a need/problem, to design new/changed ideas, to develop an outcome in accordance with new/changed ideas, to implement a new/improved outcome, and to adopt a new/improved outcome with an added-value. Additionally, an instrument for measuring innovative thinking skills among pre-service teachers was developed. The main study's findings indicated that about half of the pre-service teachers perceived themselves as innovative thinkers and the rest as conservative or partially conservative. About a quarter of the explanations were drawn from education. A significant correlation was found between mentioning the cognitive competencies to 'design new/changed ideas' and 'define a need/problem' as reasons for self-definitions of being innovative thinkers. Innovative thinkers mentioned significantly the highest percentage of these components and mentioned one or two components in their reasons for self-definition - significantly more than the others. The component of 'cognitive competency to design a new/changed idea' was most frequently mentioned and the components of 'to implement a new/improved outcome for the addressee', 'to develop an outcome in accordance with new/changed ideas', and 'to adopt a new/improved outcome with an added value' - was the least frequently mentioned. All participants ranked themselves as having moderate to high levels of innovative thinking skills. Pre-service teachers in the scientific fields significantly reported higher 'experimenting' skills than those from the humanistic fields.

Guided by the cognitive, experiential, and the sociocultural theories, this study adds to the body of knowledge on the conception and skills of innovative thinking among pre-service teachers. The research contribution includes a model of innovative thinking; a model for innovative thinking competencies and skills, and a valid and reliable tool for measuring them.

The research limitations: The sample of innovation definitions was from ten disciplines; the participants were from two institutes; self-reported questionnaire might be biased.