Thinking and mind tools
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Brainstorming is a time-honoured method of generating ideas and coming up with creative ways to solve problems. It is used not only in a classroom, but for all types of professional and personal groups and situations.
The idea is for a group to work together informally to come up with any thoughts and ideas that seem to be applicable to the issue under discussion, no matter how unusual or even crazy. The group then sort the ideas into useful classifications, looking at the original creative ideas as well as the more 'sensible' ideas.
The brainstorming process can be adapted to suit different classroom situations, so long as the basic guidelines are followed:
The aim is to push people into thinking outside of their normal patterns.
However, it is very easy to overuse brainstorming, or to use it poorly. Students have to know how to evaluated their ideas for relevance and feasibility, and have to have the understanding to be able to classify them. It can also be easy for the group to fixate on a dominant idea, and not pay sufficient attention to a range of ideas. Finally, there can be some tension between good group work and effective brainstorming. If members take it in turn to produce ideas and contribute equally, this can lead to 'production blocking', so that members need to wait to contribute and some of their ideas may not get included.
Brainstorming is often more useful in conjunction with other mind tools, such as brainstorming from a six hats perspective. The six hats approach gives more structure and shape to the brainstorming process.
Putting it into practice: Application in Health Sciences
In a brainstorming session, students express their ideas and listen to others. This helps them to adjust their previous knowledge or understanding, accommodate new information and increase their levels of awareness.
In your classroom, you can use brainstorming's to:
(Adapted from UNSW 'What is brainstorming?')
The brainstorming process can be adapted to suit different classroom situations, :
Interesting resourcesUNSW What is brainstorming?