VOL: 4 NO: 2, 67-80 2007-2


Can creativity be taught? An empirical study on benefits of visual analogy in basic design education





Dokuz Eylül University Faculty of Architecture Izmir TURKEY



Received: July 2007                                 Final Acceptance: July 2008




The impact of analogical reasoning in general, and visual analogy in particular, upon generation of creative concepts appears to be long debated; where one group talks about affirmative effects of visual analogy over creativity, whereas other groups regard that it limits creativity. This study aims to test whether the use of visual images does foster creativity in the first year of design education. 52 first year students studying in City and Regional Planning Department, a design based program, participated in the study. Participants were asked to design eight compositions to convey the expression of eight design concepts including; harmony, contrast, emphasis, cluster, unity, variety, radial balance, and asymmetrical balance. The students were asked to think about the concept and design a 30x30 cm composition to give the impression of each concept by using three basic geometric forms; square, triangle and circle. All participants were tested as a group. For half of the basic design principles (harmony, contrast, unity and variety) no visual clues were given, for the other half (emphasis and cluster, and radial balance and asymmetrical balance) visual clues were given. The visual clues included well known paintings as artwork examples and two dimensional design compositions as task related examples produced in earlier basic design courses. Findings showed affirmative effects of visual analogy on creativity. Students achieved higher creativity score when visual clues were present than when they are absent. Results have implications in basic design education. The novice design students may be encouraged to study former visual examples rather than starting from scratch. Former visual examples could be used as sources of inspiration to solve ill-structured design problems.

Keywords: visual analogy, creativity, basic design education, empirical research


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