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International Research Journal of Teacher Education

Vol. 3(1), pp. 036-043, March, 2017., ISSN: 2326-7124 x

Research Article

The relationship between creativity and logical

thinking: A case of Iranian ESP teachers
Yasin Khoshhal1*, Fateme Hosseini2
Department of English Language and Literature, University of Guilan, Rasht, Iran.
English Language Department, University of Zanjan, Zanjan, Iran.

The relationship between creativity and logical thinking, particularly critical thinking, has been a
matter of debate so far. The present study tries to observe whether a significant relationship
exists between the two concepts. To this end, the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking (TTCT)
was administered to 23 Iranian ESP teachers in order to have an understanding of their level of
creativity. Then, a test which is aimed at making participants use their critical thinking ability
was given to the teachers. This test was selected from the PhD entrance exam in Iran, typically
known as the Logical Tests of GMAT. The Pearson correlation coefficient was used in order to
identify whether a significant relationship exists between the two variables. Findings indicated
that although there has been a direct relationship between creativity and critical thinking, it is
not significant to a high degree. In this case, teachers who have been measured to be more
creative could achieve a better score in GM AT test. With regard to the current results, the
methods which tend to help the teachers to act more creatively are recommended to the ESP
teachers in order to help them perform more critically in the desired situations.

Keywords: ESP, critical thinking, logical thinking, analyzing, reasoning, creativity, creative thinking, GMAT test


A large number of studies have been done around the a process of becoming sensitive to a problem,
different factors influencing learners educational deficiencies, gaps in knowledge, missing elements,
development. Among these factors, much attention is disharmonies, and so on; identifying the difficulty,
devoted to the cognitive styles and/or metacognitive searching for solutions, making guesses, or formulating
strategies, which vary among various learners. Critical hypotheses about these deficiencies, testing and
thinking, as a cognitive style, and creative thinking, as a retesting these hypotheses and possibly modifying and
metacognitive strategy, are regarded as those features retesting them; and finally communicating the results.
that can have a great impact on the learners educational (cited in Baker M., Rudd R., and Pomeroy C., 2001, P. 3).
development. Whereas, according to Lai (2011),
creativity is needed to generate new ideas to solve
problems, and critical thinking evaluates and improves an
idea. A list of cognitive skills and dispositions including
analysis, explanation, self-regulation, evaluation,
inference, interpretation, and purposeful reflective *Corresponding author: Yasin Khoshhal Department of
judgment is suggested by Facione (2011, P. 5) to define English Language and Literature, University of Guilan,
critical thinking. In the same vein, Torrance (1966, P. 6) Rasht, Iran. Email:,
defined creativity in an operationally problem-oriented, Tel.: +989117447114
definition as: Co-author Email:
Learners critical thinking and creativity
Khoshhal and Hosseini 037

Regarding the relation between creative and critical Machiavelli. Hobbes believed in explaining everything by
thinking, there are some conflicts: Beyer (1989, P. 35) evidence and reasoning, by adopting a naturalistic view.
stated that although creative and critical thinking may Robert Boyle (in the 17 century) and Isaac Newton (in
th th
very well be different sides of the same coin, they are not the 17 and 18 century) did their work during the
incidental. (cited in Baker et al., 2001). On the other intellectual freedom and critical thought.
hand, there are some other researchers who are against Facione (1994) designed the California Critical Thinking
Beyer (1989), including Treffinger (2006) who had a fair Test (CCTT) as a general test of critical thinking. There
statement as neither divergent (creative) nor convergent are six cognitive skills of critical thinking asfollows, as
(critical) thinking in itself is sufficient for promoting cited in Facione, (1994):
effective thinking and problem solving: Both sets of skills 1- Interpretation: categorization, decoding
must apparently be used in harmony. (Cited in Chen significance, clarifying meaning
Tsai, 2012). 2- Analysis: examining ideas, identifying arguments,
analyzing arguments
3- Evaluation: assessing claims, assessing
4- Inference: querying evidence, conjecturing
Critical Thinking alternatives, drawing conclusions
5- Explanation: stating results, justifying procedures,
Theoretical background. presenting arguments
6- Self-regulation: self-examination, self-correction.
The literature on critical thinking has a long
history. Roots of critical thinking go back to the ancient The critical thinking defined by Watson and Glaser (2000)
Greek. Greek philosopher Socrates, 2,500 years ago, suggested it as a blend of knowledge, attitude, and
began this approach, discovering his probing performance of each individual, including abilities such as
questioning method. Socrates underlined the importance comprehension skills, identifying hypothesis, inference,
of evidence, reasoning, and analyzing basic concepts for analysis, and evaluating rational arguments. Halpern
whatever said and done. Socrates logic emphasized the (2003, as cited in Ghanizadeh, and Moafian, 2011)
rational argument. Socrates practice was followed by defined critical thinking as the kind of thinking that is
other philosophers, such as Plato, Aristotle, and the purposeful, reasoned, and goal-oriented and the kind of
Greek skeptics. Along similar road, Aristotle developed thinking involved in solving problems, formulating
the rules of reasoning for thinking critically for everything inferences, calculating likelihoods, and making decisions
to draw inferences. (P. 6). In his view, critical thinking comprises following
In spite of the fact that Socrates began this approach skills: verbal-reasoning skills, argument-analysis skills,
over 2,000 years ago, John Dewey, the American thinking skills such as hypothesis testing, decision-
philosopher, psychologist, and educator is widely making, and problem solving skills. (Ghanizadeh, and
regarded as the father of the critical thinking tradition Moafian, 2011, P. 27). A critical thinker in the eyes of
(Fisher, 2001, P. 2). Dewey (1933) as cited in Fisher Paul and Elder (2005) is someone who tries to solve
(2001) described critical thinking from a philosophical complicated problems in different ways by asking
perspective. questions, gathering relevant information, determining
Critical thinking as a specific area of study goes back at findings, and communicating them practically. (as cited in
least to 1941 with Edward Glasers notion as an Lai, 2011).
experimental in the development of critical thinking Similarly, Beyer (1989) defined creative thinking
(Klimoviene, Urboniene, and Barzdziukiene, 2006, P. 78). as a divergent process, trying to create something new,
He is coauthor of the worlds most widely used test of and which carried on by violating accepted principles.
critical thinking, the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Torrance (1990) characterized creative thinking by four
Appraisal (WGCTA). The development of thinking was components: FLUENCY-generating many ideas-,
strongly influenced by Benjamin Bloom in 1948. About FLEXIBILITY -shifting perspective easily-, ORIGINALITY
fifty years later, in France, Descartes started to apply -conceiving of something new-, and ELABORATION -
critical thinking. Descartes argued that every part of building on other ideas-. One key difference between
thinking should be questioned, doubted, and tested. At creative and critical thinking, according to Smith (1990, p.
the same time, Sir Thomas More developed a model of a 101), is that the generation of alternatives is a creative
new social order, called Utopia, in which every domain activity, and the selection among them must be critical.
of present world was subject to critique. In 1980, Willings identified three different kinds of
In the Italian Renaissance, Machiavellis The Prince Creative Thinking as followed:
assessed the politics of his day by analyzing. In the 16 1. Adaptive thinking: the ability to relate what is
and 17 centuries Hobbes and Locke done as observed to something to which it is not obviously

Learners critical thinking and creativity

Int. Res. J. Teacher Educ. 038

2. relatable; making links between apparently (Runco, 2003), and assimilation and imagination (Piaget,
unconnected areas 1962). (as cited in Tsai, 2013)
3. Elaborative thinking: researching, refining and
often beautifying the ideas of some other thinker Empirical studies.
4. Developmental thinking: enables the individual to
enlarge his concept of himself and the world around him In order to measure certain cognitive abilities- correlated
ascited in Davis (2004) with creative thought processes, there are some creativity
In this regard, Gardner related his theory of tests which are easily administered along with objective
multiple intelligences (1983) to different types of creativity data analyzing, that the majority of experimental studies
and believed that (Gardner, 1999b) there is a connection related to creativity are based on these tests; the
between intellectual strength and mode of creativity. For Torrance Test of Creative Thinking (TTCT) by Paul
example, those with an affinity for interpersonal Torrance, the Remote Associates Test (RAT) by Sarnoff
intelligence are more likely to become influencers or Mednick and the Guilfords Structure of the Intellect (SOI)
performers. Those with strong logical-mathematical divergent production tests by Joy Paul Guilford are of
intelligence are more likely to become theory builders. mostly-used creativity tests. as cited in Dippo (2013).
(cited in Davis, 2004) A considerable number of studies were done on
creativity. Among these studies are some investigations
Empirical studies in Iran about the relationship between creativity and academic
achievement of students, as one aspect of creativity.
Sheikhi (2009), as cited in Boloori, and Naghipoor, (2013) (Toth and Baker, 1990; Powers and Kaufman, 2004;
conducted a research study which revealed autonomy is ChamorroPremuzic, 2006; Onda, 1994; Runco, 2007;
significantly related to critical thinking. The learners Kaboodi and Jiar, 2012, as cited in Bolandifara, and
critical thinking correlated with their reading Noordin, 2013). Another aspect that obtain more attention
comprehension. The findings also revealed a strong is the relation of creativity to gender, in order to do so,
relationship between autonomy and reading Mehrafza (2004) examined gender differences and
comprehension. Mirzai (2008) investigated the creativity through using Abedis questionnaire of creativity
relationship between critical thinking and lexical inference and reported that no differences were found in the overall
of Iranian ESP learners. He concluded high critical creativity scores of students (as cited in Bolandifara, and
thinking students outperformed the low critical thinking Noordin, 2013).
ones in lexical inference as cited in Boloori, and Anna Craft (2001), as cited inBaker, Rudd, and Pomeroy,
Naghipoor (2013). 2001) stated that Woods (1990, 1993, 1995) done a
Khorasani and Farimani (2010) tried to investigate the qualitative research in primary school classrooms, and by
effect of teacher-dependent character of educational which he identified RELEVANCE, OWNERSHIP,
agenda on being critical or noncritical thinking students. CONTROL, and INNOVATION, as four features that
In another study, Fahim and Azarnioushi (2011) tried to foster creativity for both teachers and students. Isaacs
apply rule-driven or discovery learning approaches to (1987) examined the importance of learning style and its
teach grammar in order to check the relationship between impact on creativity.
language learners performance and their critical thinking. A considerable number of studies were done on
(As cited in Golpour, 2014). creativity. Among these studies are some investigations
about the relationship between creativity and academic
Creativity achievement of students, as one the aspects of creativity
(Chamorro Premuzic, 2006; Kaboodi and Jiar, 2012;
Onda, 1994; Powers and Kaufman, 2004; Runco, 2007;
Theoretical Studies. Toth and Baker, 1990). Another aspect that has gained
more attention is the relationship between creativity and
In literature there are different terminologies associated gender, in order to do so, Mehrafza (2004) examined
with creative thinking such as divergent thinking (Dirkes, gender differences and creativity through using Abedis
1978; Torrance, 1977), psychic wholeness and questionnaire of creativity and reported that no
integration (Hickson and Housley, 1997), the synthesis of differences were found in the overall creativity scores of
knowledge, emotion, and experience (Sinnott, 1998), the students (cited in Bolandifara, and Noordin, 2013).
formation of new neurons (Schmidt, 2006), open- In this paper, the relationship between ESP learners
mindedness (Fasko, 2006), the intentional production of critical thinking and their creativity was examined to
novelty (Weisberg, 2006), the problem-solving ability check whether they are related or not. Hence the
(Ruscio and Amabile, 1999), a natural human process following question was formulated:
motivated by strong needs (Torrance, 1972), personal Does a learner with a higher level of critical thinking have
constructions and the requisite cognitive processes a higher ability in creativity?

Learners critical thinking and creativity

Khoshhal and Hosseini 039

METHOD assessment approach to rank each student with respect

to the achievement of others in the three veins of fluency,
Participants originality and resistance to premature closure because
each skill is usually tested by less than four items, items
Twenty-three male and female ESP teachers, whose vary in difficulty and items are selected that discriminate
ages ranged from nineteen to twenty-nine participated in between high and low achievers (Bond, 1996).
this study. Sixty percent of the participants were female These scores according to Torrance and Ball (1984) and
and the rest were male language teachers. Torrance (1990) are identified as follows:
3.1. Instruments Fluency: The number of relevant ideas;
In this study, the relationship between creative and Originality: The number of statistically infrequent
critical thinking was sought. To this end, two main ideas; shows an ability to produce uncommon or unique
instruments were implemented. The participants responses. The scoring procedure counts the most
completed GMAT test consisting of fifteen questions, common responses as 0 and all other legitimate
designed for the PhD entrance examination in Iran, and responses as 1. The originality lists have been prepared
was logically-based, and a questionnaire of Torrance for each item on the basis of normative data, which are
Test of Creative Thinking (TTCT), the figural and verbal readily memorized by scorers.
forms containing five activities. Torrance (1966, 1974) Resistance to Premature Closure: The degree of
described four components by which individual creativity psychological openness; based on the belief that creative
could be assessed as cited in Craft (2001): behavior requires a person to consider a variety of
1. FLUENCY: the ability to produce a large number information when processing information and to keep an
of ideas open mind.
2. FLEXIBILITY: the ability to produce a large
variety of ideas With regard to the scoring procedure, each individual is
3. ELABORATION: the ability to develop, embellish, compared with other participants and assigned a score
or fill out an idea with five as the highest score (being meeting the
4. ORIGINALITY: the ability to produce ideas that requirements of the test to the highest level) and one as
are unusual, statistically infrequent, not banal or obvious. the lowest score (not being able to meet requirements of
the test to a considerable level).
3.2. Procedure
According to the conditions of the test, learners were F stands for fluency, O stands for originality and R stands
tested during a time-managed environment, in which they for resistance to premature closure. Based on the
were given three minutes for each activity of Torrance average scaled scores illustrated in Table 2. S1 achieved
Test of Creative Thinking. Learners answered activities an average score of 73.2 out of 100 for the core of
right after listening carefully to the directions. Time to fluency (shown by F in the table), 80 for originality of his
answer the GMAT test was fifteen minutes, just the same answers in the three activities (1, 4 and 5) and 46.6 is
as in the main entrance exam. given to the Resistance to Premature Closure of his

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION In this regard the best score for the resistance to
premature closure was achieved by S18, and the highest
Results of the GMAT test are shown in Table 1 for each ranks of fluency and originality were given to the S8 and
student. Each cell illustrates the option being chosen by the S5.
the participants and the colored cells show the right In order to analyze the scores, we need each students
items. Scores are out of fifteen and the scaled scores are average score. To this end, the average score (mean) for
indicated in the last column. Taking a deeper look into the each student was calculated, using the formulae below:
scores, it is simply clear that questions 3 and 6have been
more difficult than the rest of the questions while
numbers 2 and 14 have not put the participants in much (& & )
trouble. 3
While students S19 and S15 achieved the lowest scores According to Drnyei (2011), in order to examine the
(2 out of 15), three students (S6, S11, and S21) could get relationship between two variables, we should perform
the highest score, 8, which was quite disappointing. correlation analysis since it allows us to look at two
The other test which was carried out in order to have a variables and evaluate the strength and direction of their
scale of participants level of creativity was the Torrance relationship or association with each other.
Tests of Creative ThinkingFigural test. In order to score According to what has already been clarified, the two
the test, the researchers went through a norm referenced variables in the present study are the mean score of the

Learners critical thinking and creativity

Int. Res. J. Teacher Educ. 040

Table 1. Average scaled scores in three activities (1,4 and 5)

F O C Mean
S1 73.2 80 46.6 66.6
S2 73.2 80.33 73.2 75.57
S3 80 60 80 73.33
S4 80.33 66.6 80 75.64
S5 60 80.66 80.33 73.66
S6 53.2 46.6 46.6 48.8
S7 53.2 40 40 44.4
S8 80.66 80.33 80.33 80.44
S9 40 53.2 53.2 48.8
S10 66.6 60 53.2 59.93
S11 46.6 46.6 33.2 42.13
S12 53.2 66.6 66.6 62.13
S13 46.6 46.6 53.2 42.13
S14 53.2 60 33.2 48.8
S15 26.6 46.6 46.6 39.93
S16 33.2 33.2 33.2 33.2
S17 53.2 66.6 33.2 51
S18 53.2 66.6 100 73.26
S19 33.2 40 33.2 35.46
S20 80.33 73.2 80 77.84
S21 33.2 46.6 46.6 42.13
S22 46.6 60 46.6 51.06
S23 53.2 46.6 46.6 48.8

Table 2 Correlation between GMAT and TTCT Scores

Mean of TTCT (x) GMAT (y) xy
S1 66.6 46.67 3108.222 4435.56 2178.089
S2 75.57 46.67 3526.852 5710.825 2178.089
S3 73.33 26.67 1955.711 5377.289 711.2889
S4 75.64 20 1512.8 5721.41 400
S5 73.66 40 2946.4 5425.796 1600
S6 48.8 53.33 2602.504 2381.44 2844.089
S7 44.4 33.33 1479.852 1971.36 1110.889
S8 80.44 26.67 2145.335 6470.594 711.2889
S9 48.8 20 976 2381.44 400
S10 59.93 26.67 1598.333 3591.605 711.2889
S11 42.13 53.33 2246.793 1774.937 2844.089
S12 62.13 46.67 2899.607 3860.137 2178.089
S13 42.13 40 1685.2 1774.937 1600
S14 48.8 33.33 1626.504 2381.44 1110.889
S15 39.93 13.33 532.2669 1594.405 177.6889
S16 33.2 33.33 1106.556 1102.24 1110.889
S17 51 26.67 1360.17 2601 711.2889
S18 73.26 40 2930.4 5367.028 1600
S19 35.46 13.33 472.6818 1257.412 177.6889
S20 77.84 46.67 3632.793 6059.066 2178.089
S21 42.13 53.33 2246.793 1774.937 2844.089
S22 51.06 46.67 2382.97 2607.124 2178.089
S23 48.8 40 1952 2381.44 1600
1295.04 826.67 46926.74 78003.42 33155.91

Torrance Tests of Creative ThinkingFigural test and the 1079315.02 1070570.7168 8744.3032
score of the GMAT test. = =
116950.0584 79202.6411 96243.19977
= 0.09085

2 2 2 2 = 0.09085

Learners critical thinking and creativity

Khoshhal and Hosseini 041


G 50




0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90

Mean of TTCT

Figure 1. The correlation between GMAT and TTCT scores



M 30


0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
Mean of TTCT

Figure 2. The correlation between GMAT and TTCT scores

The Pearson correlation coefficient, r, can take a range of the value of one variable increases, so does the value of
values from +1 to -1. A value of 0 indicates that there is the other variable. A value less than 0 indicates a
no association between the two variables. A value negative association; that is, as the value of one variable
greater than 0 indicates a positive association; that is, as increases, the value of the other variable decreases.

Learners critical thinking and creativity

Int. Res. J. Teacher Educ. 042

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Accepted 28 February, 2017.

Citation: Khoshhal Y, Hosseini F (2017). The relationship

between creativity and logical thinking: A case of Iranian
ESP teachers. International Research Journal of Teacher
Education, 3(1): 036-043.

Copyright: 2017 Khoshhal and Hosseini. This is an

open-access article distributed under the terms of the
Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits
unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any
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Learners critical thinking and creativity