Idea Generating

Enhancing creative thinking and idea generation through a well-structured set of processes that both expand and deepen innovative thinking.
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Earn Graduate Credit
Graduate-level credit is available for this micro-credential. You can apply for credit through one of our university partners after successfully completing the micro-credential.
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About this Micro-credential

Key Method

Guiding a multistep, structured, student idea-generating and brainstorming process with clear rules, group interactions, idea visualization, and focused refining of ideas designed to enhance expansive creative thinking and focused innovation skills (also see the Design Thinking & Doing micro-credential).

Method Components

As students engage in an activity or task, the instructor facilitates a focused idea-generating session through a structured conception and curation process. Students can improve this process over time by carefully documenting and refining their conclusions throughout. This can be done individually, in small groups, or in whole-group instruction.

Components of an idea-generating/brainstorming session

  • Establish ground rules for generating ideas. Examples of ground rules include:
    • There are no bad ideas; no judging.
    • Encourage wild ideas.
    • Build on other's ideas; Yes, and, not Yes, but.
    • Stay mostly focused on the topic or challenge.
    • Keep to one conversation at a time.
    • Be visual and expressive.
  • Group and select ideas.
    • Students begin the brainstorming session, following the established ground rules.
    • When a wide range of ideas have been generated, have students group similar ideas.
    • Student decide on their favorite idea, then put a dot (vote) on that post-it item.
    • Students discuss the results.
  • Sketch and describe promising ideas.
    • Students sketch out a promising idea.
    • They then brainstorm further to expand the idea.
    • Students share their expanded ideas/sketches.
    • Students name and summarize their promising ideas.
  • Review
    • Students review their idea-generating experiences and discuss how they could be improved.

Suggested preparation

  • Students discuss where good ideas come from and how they are generated.
  • Students clearly define a topic, challenge, or problem to brainstorm about.
  • Choose a comfortable space for brainstorming and provide idea-capturing tools (post-its, markers, idea-mapping and collaboration apps, and other tools)
  • Do a quick 3-5 minute warm-up brainstorm on a fun topic.

Research & Resources

Supporting Research

Generating, or brainstorming, ideas is often thought of as wild and unstructured, but in fact it is a focused activity that involves structure and discipline. Preparation, rules, good facilitation, idea selection and visualization, and refining and describing ideas are all important to successful idea-generating sessions.


Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

Following are the items you must submit to earn this micro-credential and the criteria by which they will be evaluated. To earn the micro-credential, you must receive a passing evaluation for Parts 1, 3, and 4 and a “Yes” for Part 2.

Part 1. Overview questions

(200-word limit for each response)

  • Activity Description: What kind of project activities did you and your students engage in to become more proficient at generating ideas? Please describe the learning activities and strategies you used.
  • Activity Evaluation: How do you know your students increased their proficiency by engaging in the brainstorming activities, and what evidence did you collect that demonstrates these learning gains?

Part 2. Evidence/artifacts

Please submit work examples from two students (writing, audio, images, video, and other products) that demonstrate progress toward the Idea Generating competency, including items such as examples of brainstormed lists, sketched visuals of selected ideas, voting processes for the most promising ideas, evidence of presentations of final results, and other relevant items.

Part 3. Student reflections

For the two students whose work examples were included above, submit their student-created reflections on the Idea Generating activities they experienced. Use the following questions as guidance (200-word limit for each reflection):

  • How did going through the idea-generating process help you and your group come up with good creative ideas?
  • How did this learning activity change your view of what it takes to generate creative ideas that could be useful to others?

Part 4. Teacher reflection

Provide a reflection on what you learned, using the following questions as guidance (200-word limit):

  • What was the impact of engaging your students in the Idea Generating activity?
  • How will experiencing these project activities shape your daily future teaching practice?

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


Download to access the requirements and scoring guide for this micro-credential.
Requirements for Idea Generating
How to prepare for and earn this micro-credential - in a downloadable PDF document

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