Conceived by educational administrator Bob Eberle, the SCAMPER technique fosters creativity through brainstorming. Unlike free-form thought sessions, however, SCAMPER leads participants thought a multistep process, each step represented in the acronym SCAMPER and encouraging a particular kind of creative thinking. SCAMPER can be used for problem solving, inventing new products or analyzing literature.
Benefits of Brainstorming
SCAMPER is a specific form of brainstorming, which is itself an important creative process for students to master and one they can use throughout their academic and professional lives. Brainstorming is a loosely structured idea-generating session in which any possible solution, no matter how improbable, is thrown on the table. In brainstorming, students become comfortable with freely sharing their ideas and respectfully hearing the ideas of others. During these sessions students are expected to think critically and also draw on their previous knowledge to solve a problem.
Identify a Challenge
The first step in leading students through the SCAMPER technique is to identify a problem to be solved. A problem could be taken from current events, such as an economic or political crisis. Students can also use SCAMPER to take a story and rewrite it, using the creative thinking skills in the technique. Or students could focus on an object and use SCAMPER to come up with a novel use for it.
What SCAMPER Stands For
The "S" stands for substitute. Students should ask what would happen if one factor was switched out for another. In the "C" step of the process, students consider what elements of the problem or circumstance could be combined. "A" stands for adapt; here students look at which parts of the problem can change to better accommodate circumstances. "M" is for modify and asks which elements of the project or object being considered can be altered -- color, shape or function, for example. "P" represents "Put to other uses," which challenges thinkers to find other functions or markets for the object. "E" stands for eliminate; students should look at which parts of the object or project can be removed to make it more effective. The "R" represents reverse, which asks thinkers to look at the problem backward.
SCAMPER can be used when creating art projects: Students could look at what elements of an object might be "modified" in an artistic rendering. "Substitution" is a concept that might come in handy in a home economics class. If no tomatoes are available for a sauce, students can ask what other types of ingredients can be used to make it. Reflection is another important part of the SCAMPER process. Following the brainstorming, students should look at which solutions worked best and why they did.
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