Incorporate creative components into coursework

Thasin Kamal, Columnist

It is the job of any university to do everything in its power to help its students. Yet many students here at UT are not given the opportunity to express creativity within their coursework. Students are unable to benefit from being creative, limiting their cognitive abilities and mental well-being.      

Professors must find ways to include creativity components in their coursework to better serve their students. 

Being creatively expressive has been shown to provide many benefits to students, such as helping to reduce stress. Many students are anxious about schoolwork, such as essays and exams, but when they have the ability to be creative with their work, they can have fun and focus more on learning the material. 

Government sophomore Jessica Harper expressed her views on creative work for classes.

“I feel like having a creative component to a class makes it a lot more engaging, and I feel like I learn more when it’s creative, rather than just doing worksheet after worksheet. … If I were able to do group projects, I might have a lot more experience with creative things, like with videography and editing and doing art,” Harper said.

Studies have shown that creative work can enhance students’ cognitive skills of problem solving, critical thinking and making connections between subjects. Ultimately, creative work can help students learn, comprehend and retain information better. 

Michele Hockett Cooper, an assistant professor of instruction in the department of nutritional sciences, emphasized that creative work can help support learning outcomes in students.

“I think in the long term, it’s really important for students, for everyone, to flex their creative muscles and use their brain in new ways,” Hockett Cooper said. “(Educators at UT) need to teach you guys how to use creativity to make something that’s going to benefit society.”

One way professors can add creativity components to their coursework is by assigning group projects or individual work where students can incorporate the class material into creative videos and posters, drawings, paintings, comic strips, stories or acting sessions. Incorporating creative work does not have to change the entire syllabus it’s as easy as changing an essay assignment to a creative group project.   

One of the courses that Hockett Cooper teaches is a yearlong experiential-learning internship class based on a creative project. Hockett Cooper explained that a majority of her students have said that it is their favorite class because of that experiential-learning creative component. Hockett Cooper also mentioned how students would otherwise not go into the community and gain this type of experience in any of their other classes. 

UT needs to encourage professors to incorporate creative elements into their coursework as it has been shown that creative work can be beneficial to students both in and out of the classroom. 

Professors must start incorporating creativity components into their coursework as it is important to foster creativity in all students, regardless of area of study. 

Kamal is an international relations/global studies and economics sophomore from Irving, Texas.