University of Virginia Recommends More Study to Find out Why Destination ImagiNation Kids are so Good at Critical Thinking and Creative Problem Solving

Share Article

The University of Virginia Curry School of Education conducted a study in 2010 that concluded participants in Destination ImagiNation's critical and creative thinking challenges are better problem solvers than others who don't participate in DI programs. Now, the researchers recommend more study to find out why, and how DI's programs might benefit the nation's schools.

The University of Virginia Curry School of Education conducted a study in 2010 that concluded participants in Destination ImagiNation's critical and creative thinking challenges are better problem solvers than others who don't participate in DI programs. Now, the researchers recommend more study to find out why, and how DI's programs might benefit the nation's schools.

Educators need 2nd round of Destination ImagiNation research to gather more data about DI kids’ superior thinking skills.

Research team will need about $60,000 in outside funding

A comprehensive evaluation in 2010 by researchers at the University of Virginia provided evidence that students participating in team-based problem solving competitions with Destination ImagiNation (DI) exhibit stronger skills than non-DI students in solving complicated challenges by applying critical thinking and creative problem solving techniques.

And now, those researchers recommend taking their study to the next level to determine:

  •     What factors contribute to superior critical thinking skills among DI participants
  •     How the DI youth achieve superior levels of creativity
  •     Whether certain elements of the DI program can be replicated in schools and other settings to help more youth become accomplished critical thinkers
  •     The backgrounds, personality traits and school performance levels of DI participants
  •     Whether length of time in the DI program contributes to enhanced creative problem solving skills

Destination ImagiNation Inc., a non-profit based in the Philadelphia suburb of Cherry Hill, NJ, is the world’s leading provider of team-based challenge programs designed to encourage participants of all ages to develop their skills in innovation, communication, teamwork, project management, critical thinking and creative problem solving. In the 2010 challenge year, more than 125,000 students and 35,000 volunteers were involved in DI programs throughout the U.S. and Canada and in 14 foreign countries.

Dr. Carolyn M. Callahan, a Commonwealth Professor in the University of Virginia’s Department of Leadership, Foundations and Policy, estimates the second round of research will cost about $60,000 to collect the data needed across grade levels and number of years, and to analyze pre- and post-data.

Donors wishing to help fund the research are asked to contact:
Heather C. Gaskins, CFRE
Director Institutional Advancement & Resource Development
Destination ImagiNation, Inc.
1111 S. Union Ave., Cherry Hill, NJ 08002
571.393.5661, hgaskins(at)dihq(dot)org

“On measures of creative and critical thinking, students who participated in the DI program outperformed comparable control participants across the results of the evaluation,” reported Tracy C. Missett, co-author of the study, along with Dr. Callahan and Dr. Holly Hertberg-Davis of the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education.

“We triangulated and looked across a variety of areas, and all of those areas did show statistically significant differences between DI participants and the control participants,” said Ms. Missett. “When you run the scores, you find that these differences were not likely to be just a matter of chance.”

Dr. Callahan in early 2011 said the study team was very interested in their initial findings because there is minimal research on programs like DI and the difference they can make in student achievement, “and this is a first step in gathering that kind of data.”

Dr. Callahan and Ms. Missett defined the study results as “promising,” and recommended more thorough future research to provide more evidence-based conclusions about the effects of DI’s programs.
Specific instruments measured the participants’ abilities to develop original ideas and be flexible in creative thinking, as well as their ability to evaluate information, make value judgments about the information presented, and come to decisions based on what they know.

STUDY PROCEDURES
Using the Cornell Critical Thinking Test, the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking, and a team-based creative performance task, researchers in late 2010 assessed DI and non-DI middle-school student performance in Virginia, Illinois, Texas and California, where DI has well-developed programs. The independent evaluation and study was conducted at the request of Destination Imagination Inc. (http://www.idodi.org)

“We asked the University of Virginia to perform this research because school administrators need evidence-based research to support their funding allocations,” said Chuck Cadle, M.Ed., CEO of the non-profit Destination Imagination Inc.

The largest team-based, after-school creative problem solving and critical thinking program for youth in the world, Cherry Hill, NJ-based Destination Imagination Inc. bridges the gap between test-taking proficiencies learned in schools and the requirements for thought-based solutions for success in the real world.

The University of Virginia study assessed the creative and critical thinking capabilities of participants already in DI programs and compared their scores to a control group of non-DI participants. In order to more fully determine whether participation in Destination ImagiNation actually has the effect of increasing abilities in critical thinking, creative problem solving and innovation, additional program impacts would have to be measured through a pre- and post-test experimental design including testing before a student enters DI, as well as after their participation, and then comparing measured outcomes against a set of control students, the researchers concluded.

“The fact that we have a comparison group, and the fact that we looked at students from a variety of angles and they all seemed to triangulate on making a difference, is a positive angle, but it is not a perfect experimental study,” commented Dr. Callahan.

For more information, please visit http://www.idodi.org/10-11downloads/2011di_program_evaluation_report.pdf

Source:        Destination Imagination Inc.
Media Contact:    Andy Bowen, 404-822-3309, ab(at)clearviewcom(dot)com

# # #

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Andy Bowen
Cleaview Communications + PR Inc.
(813) 374-3735
Email >
Visit website