2013. Vol.4, No.12A, 13-20
Published Online December 2013 in SciRes (http://www.scirp.org/journal/ce) http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/ce.2013.412A1003
Open Access 13
Creativity and Physics Learning as Product of the Intervention
with Conceptual Maps and Gowin’s V Diagram
Javier A. Pulgar Neira, Iván R. Sánchez Soto
Physics Department, Science Faculty, University of Bio Bio, Concepción, Chile
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Received August 28th, 2013; revised September 28th, 2013; accepted October 5th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Javier A. Pulgar Neira, Iván R. Sánchez Soto. This is an open access article distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any
medium, provided the original work is properly cited. In accordance of the Creative Commons Attribution Li-
cense all Copyrights © 2013 are reserved for SCIRP and the owner of the intellectual property Javier A. Pulgar
Neira, Iván R. Sánchez Soto. All Copyright © 2013 are guarded by law and by SCIRP as a guardian.
This paper shows the impact of a methodological renewal, based on conceptual maps and Gowin’s V dia-
gram, in academic performance and creativity of freshman students from Civil Engineering in University
of Bio Bio, Concepción, Chile, who participate in subject Physics with me in the modular system. The
objective in incorporating both heuristic instruments is to facilitate the reflection of information and
problem solving in physics. The study is quasi-experimental with pre-and post-test in the study variables.
The results show that the proposed methodological renewal significantly influences academic perform-
ance, and in certain categories, is of creativity. The analysis also shows a relation between academic per-
formance and creativity, which would predict the success or fail in physics.
Keywords: University Physics; Conceptual Maps; Gowin’s V Diagram; Academic Performance and
The academic success, product of a meaningful learning, is
related to the ability to transfer, which is understood as the
ability to adapt the material learned to problem situations in
different contexts, and also is closely linked to creative features
of subjects. Consequently, developing the ability to transfer is
made possible by the implementation of methodologies that
enhance creativity in students. Therefore, a meaningful learning
is embodied in the extent to which the new information is re-
lated to prior knowledge of the student, which is achieved
through reflection and re-organization of the cognitive structure
for who is preparing to learn.
In our context, the physics diagnosis test made by freshman
students from UBB shows that only 10% achieved correctly
answer questions related to Vectors, Introduction to Kinematics,
and Introduction to Dynamics and Energy. In order to cope
with these difficulties in physics knowledge and generate the
appropriate changes, we have proposed building a methodo-
logical renewal for Physics I course based on the resolution of
problems by Gowin’s V diagram and conceptual maps. This
intervention, built for first-year students in Civil Engineering
formation, aims to improve the physics learning and creativity
of the students, the latter being of great importance to face fu-
ture professional challenges. Consequently, this quasi-expe-
rimental research pretends to show the impact of the methodo-
logical renewal in academic performance and creative thinking.
Instruments as the Gowin’s V diagram and conceptual map,
are helpful for the manifestation of how subjects understand the
information and what meanings are given, because while Go-
win’s V reveals the links between theories and procedures in
the resolution of problems, the map can show relationships and
hierarchy of concepts graphically demonstrating a student’s
conceptual domain, promoting the integration of the content. In
this context, it may be noted that the resolution of problems
through V diagrams, and building conceptual maps to address
conceptual concerns, guides the student to promoting transfer,
creativity and reflection of information, in search of a mean-
The results obtained by the Interest and Creative Perform-
ance Questionnaire (ICPQ) indicate that students submitted to
the intervention with conceptual maps and V diagrams do better
on academic performance. In addition, there was a significant
difference in the scores of the categories of creativity (Various
Interests), and an increase in the number of students in the ex-
perimental group that achieved scores from low to normal-high
in art and writing, confidence and independence and varied
interests, being these last not significative.
It can be presented graphically with the dependencies be-
tween the various modes in the academic study and the differ-
ent categories of stimulation of creativity, which students de-
clare. So, it is possible to assert that high scores on certain cate-
gories of creativity allow predicting the academic success of
Creativity and Meaningful Learning
To introduce some of the techniques that promote the crea-
tive potential in students, you must know some of the defini-
tions that experts have had to build to the concept of creativity.
Until recently there was no formal definition of this concept,
due to the lack of studies and research on it, and it was not until
J. A. P. NEIRA, I. R. S. SOTO
after 1992 that the Royal Academy of Spanish Language does
define this concept as: “ability to create, capacity of creation.”
However, there are earliest definitions of creativity. The Ta-
ble 1 summarizes some of the contributions to the creative do-
Considering the definition of De la Torre (1999), it is com-
plex to enclose the creative process in a single definition.
However, the above table allows pointing out that creativity is
an inherent mechanism of the human mind and sensitive to
problems, which is activated to create original, diverse and
flexible solutions or problems, seeking the transformation of
the present reality of an individual. To Ausubel et al. (1983)
creativity has a cognitive dimension, noting that it begins with
simple integrative reconciliations that guide the construction of
new concepts, hierarchizing the cognitive structure of the sub-
ject and encouraging the development of creative relationships.
The element that allows visualising the connection between
creativity and meaningful learning emerges from the definition
of the first author and constitutes one of its goals: to transform.
It is well known that the evidence of a meaningful learning is
related to the ability to adapt (transform) learning to different
contextual situations and find solutions without difficulty, un-
derstood as the ability to transfer. Donolo and Rinaudo (2008)
Definitions of creativity.
“Ability to perform, provide and produce ideas. Conversion
of known elements into something new, thanks to a power-
“Creativity responds to the capacity to upgrade the creative
individual potential through unique and original patterns.”
“The creative personality is that which distinguishes one
individual by the quality and originality uncommon for
their contributions to science, art, politics, etc.”
“Creativity is an act that produces surprises to the subject,
in the sense that it does not recognize it as a previous pro-
“Creativity is the final form of symbolic play of children,
when is assimilated in his thoughts.”
“Capacity or ability to generate alternatives from a given
information, with an emphasis on the variety, quantity
and relevance of the results.”
“Creativity is the process of becoming sensitive to
problems, deficiencies, gaps in knowledge, overlooked
elements, the lack of harmony etc., To summarize valid
information, to identify possible problems and identify
the invalid items, to find solutions, to make guesses or
formulating hypotheses about the deficiencies, to
examine and test these hypotheses and modify if there’s
necessary, refining them and finally communicating the
“Creativity is the result of a combination of processes or
attributes that are new to the creator.”
“Creativity is a style that has the mind to process
information, manifesting through the production and
generation of situations, ideas or objects with a degree of
originality; that style of the mind somehow intended
impact or transform the present reality of the individual.”
De la Torre
“If define is surround a field of ideas with a fence of words,
creativity is like an ocean of ideas overwhelmed by a
continent of words.”
(Taken from Esquivias 2001, pp. 2-7).
note that “the process of transferring and using knowledge in
new situations requires a creative approach that would allow
students to jump from unfamiliar tasks and somewhat unstruc-
tured, into new applications with-concepts in different contexts
of learning.” According to Chroback (2008), creative activity
requires knowledge conceptually organized and motivation to
promote the development of meaningful learning.
Any student subjected to the process of teaching and learning,
must move from a first stage of guided manipulation of the
operation criteria, corresponding to how the discipline is taught,
to the stage that achieves the transformation of these criteria, as
a product of a creative behaviour, which also generates and
gives meaning to new problems and solutions. Carpio et al.
(2007), notes that creative behaviour cannot be taught, but it
can be promoted through enriching how to solve problems, and
the diverse type of problems that are raised within an area of
study. This sets a continuum between intelligent and creative
behaviour, which implies that the subject can be creative as
long as that which will be subjected to transformation is present
in their cognitive structure, i.e. they have learned previously.
Technique to Stimulate Creativity
The following techniques seek, according to the experts, to
encourage the development of creativity, and transfer. There are
certain authors who defend the thesis of an educational practice
based on the development of creativity (Torre, 1993; Reyes,
2003; Lopez, 2008), arguing that a creative attitude can face the
new, improvise and respond through the transfer of learning.
For this reason, the use of creative questions in the teaching and
learning process will enrich the contextualization in the study
tasks, and thus facilitate the transfer. In the same manner, Tor-
rance (cited by Ausubel, Novak, & Hanesian, 1983, p. 509)
notes to respect unusual questions, as a principle to be consid-
ered by teachers to reward creative thinking.
On the other hand, Ausubel, Novak and Hanesian (1983, p.
484) define problem solving as a creative strategy that requires
the transformation and reintegration of existing knowledge to
adapt towards a goal. One strategy to encourage creative activ-
ity in teamwork or problem solving it is “Brainstorming”, in-
troduced by Osborn (1953).
In reference to teaching methodologies Chroback (2008)
notes that the creative process is diminished when the methods
of teaching and assessment promote rote or mechanical learning.
Consequently, the teacher’s role should be oriented in an in
deterministic teaching practice (Silva, 2005), favouring the
creation, discovery and training of new concepts, avoiding ex-
pressed doubts about the ability of their students to give a solu-
tion to problems. This in deterministic teacher must possess,
among others, the ability to mediate the learning of content,
considered that conceptual structures may change, since the
disciplinary knowledge evolves in a nonlinear way, like intelli-
gence. Also, he must possess the ability to generate problems
with multiple possible solutions, because the student, rather
than learning to solve situations with particular solution, must
learn to deal with these (Bell, 2000).
Conceptual Maps and V Diagrams
An image can be understood as a representational element of
the knowledge of the subject from any given issue. For this
reason, formal education has had to make use of images in or-
J. A. P. NEIRA, I. R. S. SOTO
der to promote the learning to learn. The research of Otero,
Greca and Lang da Silveira (2003), shows the motivating func-
tion, sometimes pleasant, of certain images in students. While
the authors sought to determine the influence of these on aca-
demic performance, the results are not clear, because as Perales
(2006) said, the use of images per se, fails in enhance learning.
In this regard, the author indicates the need to interact with
these representations, i.e., subjecting them to analysis, criticism,
change, etc., they should not be considered as elements of just
contemplation (Perales, 2008).
In this line, it is considered very important the use of tools
like Gowin’s V, which allows to reveal the epistemological
aspects of knowledge production (Moreira, 2006), and the con-
cept map, which plots the level of conceptual integration func-
tion of the relations network. Both tools emerge in the educa-
tional world to promote meaningful learning (Moreira, 1998,
2007). For this reason, many have been used in educational
research, for example, Flores, Knight and Moreira (2009) in-
troduced these two instruments for assessing science laboratory.
An experience with concept mapping was performed by Rami-
rez and Sanabria (2004), to study the impact of this tool in the
teaching and learning of a college physics course, achieving a
better understanding and integration of concepts, facilitating the
construction of knowledge. On the other hand, Garcia, Insausti
and Merino (2003), use the V diagram as evaluation mechanism
on practical work in physics at university level. Similar is the
work of Sanabria, Ramirez and Aspee (2006), who designed an
instructional strategy for work in physics laboratories, thanks to
which students were able to design methodological approaches
for the resolution of experimental situations and identify the
theoretical domain that supports them. More recent is the work
of Gil and Solano (2011) in which they occupied the epistemo-
logical V for solving physical problems, achieving improved
student attitudes against physical problems. Another reference
lies in the paper by Lopez, Angela and Solano (2011), for
learning Newtonian mechanics concepts through computer
modelling using V diagrams. The results of the experiment are
summarized as: adequate description and understanding of
concepts, evidence of significant learning by analyzing a spe-
cific situation-problem, and improvements in disposition to-
This research is performed through a quasi-experimental de-
sign (Cohen and Manion, 1990), which defines two groups
(experimental and control), which will apply pre and post-test
in each of the study variables: levels of creativity and academic
performance. It is noteworthy that the groups involved in the
subject Physics I, divided in two modules (I and II) that
grouped the contents of Kinematics and Dynamics (I), and Col-
lisions and Roto-translation (II).
Throughout the module I of the course, the experimental
group will be using V diagrams and concept maps to solve
problems, while a control group will develop the course by
solving problems guides. Table 2 shows the research design.
To measure creativity variables, the instrument will be ap-
plied before the start of the course (pre-test), and two months
after the end the intervention (post-test). The determination of
academic performance will occur after the intervention, i.e.
after the end of module I.
Groups Pre-test Treatment Post-test
Experimental O1 T1 1
Control O1 T
- O1 y 1
: Test of creative capacities.
-T1: Didactic proposal which incorporates concept maps and
-T2: Teaching and learning program based on problem-solv-
Population and Sample
The population consisted of all first-year students of Civil
Engineering at the University of Bío Bío. The sample is com-
posed by first-year students participating in the modular course
Physics I (Module I and II), issued by the Department of Phys-
ics at the same university.
The sample consists of 74 students in their first year of study
in Civil Engineering at the University of Bío Bío, Concepción,
of which 20.3% were female and 79.7% male. The show is
simple random type, where all subjects have the same probabil-
ity to be part of the experimental or control group, a product
that students enrol via the Internet and each section has limited
Data Collection Instrument
A) Interest and Creative Performance Questionnaire (ICPQ):
test that identifies creative abilities of students. It has 60 items
grouped into five criteria:
1). Creativity in Art and Writing (AW): high scores denote
taste for the arts, legends, poetry and music. The low score does
not show interest in the arts.
2). Challenge and Inventive (ChI): high scores denote taste
for risk. These subjects like difficult tasks, invent and think of
new ideas. The low scorers tend to prefer the inconstancy and
tasks easier and less risky.
3). Confidence and Independence (CI): high scoring subjects
find school tasks easy, believe they have good ideas. Are inde-
pendent with respect to the peer pressure and like to try new
opportunities. The low score have a poor self-image and con-
sider it important to be like others.
4). Imagination (I): high scores detect curiosity subjects, they
like to ask questions, loneliness and travel; also has new and
imaginative ideas. The low scoring individuals are more realis-
tic, literal and less curious.
5). Varied Interests (VI): High scoring individuals has many
hobbies and interest in drama, literature, life in other countries,
the past, the future, and many other topics. The low-scoring
have few interests and hobbies.
The values obtained through the Cronbach Alpha test for the
validity of the instrument are: Creativity in Art and Writing: α
= .832; Challenge and Inventive: α = .713; Confidence and
Independence: α = .694; Imagination: α = .735; Varied Interests:
α = 0.7. Estimation of reliability for the total test: α = 0.9.B)
B) Academic performance was measured by a test, the valid-
ity of content is ensured to have been built by experts. This docu-
Open Access 15
J. A. P. NEIRA, I. R. S. SOTO
Figure 3 shows that both groups get similar results before
starting the course. We do not find significant differences for
any section by Mann-Whitney test. So, it is possible to note that
the sample is homogeneous in relation to levels of creativity,
therefore, any differences in post-test measurement, will be the
product of the methodology used.
ment is designed to assess the following content: kinematics in
one and two dimensions and Newton dynamics.
Data analysis is performed by non-parametric statistics using
descriptive and univariate analysis via graphs, and the study of
multiple correspondence between the variables involved. The
results obtained in the pre and post test, and test scores are ana-
lyzed through Mc-Neman and Mann-Whitney test.
The comparison of both groups to post-test results (Figure 4)
by the Mann-Whitney statistical test, indicates that there are
significant differences at 95%, in favour of the experimental
group in dimension Varied Interests (IV), p = 0.0449. However,
these differences are not identifiable in the other dimensions.
Methodology in the Classroom Figures 5 and 6 shows the percentage of students in the ex-
perimental and control group, which scores in pre and post-test
The intervention mechanisms in the classroom are focused
on solving conceptual questions using concept maps as a pre-
vious activity to solving problems through Gowin’s V diagram.
The Figure 1 shows an example of a map of concepts, devel-
oped to respond a question, through connecting two or more
concepts in words or linking phrases, in order to generate pro-
posals, and identifying the hierarchy of concepts. In this situa-
tion the objective is to solve the following question: What is the
relationship between mechanical work and mechanical energy
of a system?
The Figure 2 shows the solution of a problem by Gowin’s V
diagram. In it you can see how the principles and concepts,
belonging to conceptual theoretical domain interact with the
methodological elements (transformations) with the aim of
responding (assertion of knowledge) the question or issue that
emerges from the event.
Results of Pre and Post Test ICPQ Figure 1.
Concept map drawn to explain the relationship between work and me-
The results of pre and post test performed for creativity to
both groups are displayed in Figures 3 and 4.
Problem solved by V synthesized diagram and its components.
J. A. P. NEIRA, I. R. S. SOTO
Average score obtained in pre test for the experimental and control
Average score obtained in post test for the experimental and control
Percentage of students in control group, with normal and high levels in
pre test of creativity.
were classified in normal and high categories.
Although the analysis of the results of the post test, using the
McNemar test revealed no significant differences at 95%, in
Figure 6 it is possible to identify an improvement in the per-
centage of students achieving scores between normal and high
Percentage of students in experimental group, with normal and high
levels in pre test of creativity.
ranges, in Arts and Writing (AW), Confidence and Independ-
ence (CI) and Varied Interest (VI), contrary to what happens in
the control group (Figure 5), where these percentages decrease,
except in the imagination factor (I).
Through an exam constructed by experts in physics, we
evaluated the performance of students intervened. The Figure 7
shows the percentage of students that scored 4.0 or above in the
test, which involves the approval of the subject.
In addition, it is confirmed through the statistical result of the
Mann-Whitney test, which delivers a value p = .0035, showing
significant differences to 99%, in favour of the experimental
Multiple Correspondence Analysis: Levels of
Creativity and Academic Performance
In order to determine to what extent the categories of creativ-
ity influence student performance, Figure 8 shows two dimen-
sions (1 and 2) of the multiple correspondence analysis devel-
oped for these variables.
By identifying the quadrants of the Figure 8, you can under-
stand what are the variables that explain the approval (QUAL:
A) and failure (QUAL: F) in the experimental group. The ap-
proval, located in the first quadrant, would be explained in a
65.28% by high scores on Imagination (I) and Confidence and
Independence (CI). While in the third quadrant are located the
variables that explain with the same percentage the failure,
which correspond to low scores on Imagination (I) and Confi-
dence and Independence (CI).
Figure 9 corresponds to the dimension 1 and 3 of the multi-
ple correspondence analysis between the previous variables.
This side explains in a 57.89% the relationship between the
categories of creativity and academic performance.
In Figure 9 we see that the approval (QUAL: A) is located in
the fourth quadrant, so that high scores on Challenge and In-
ventive (ChI) and Confidence and Independence (CI), will ex-
plain it at a 57.89 %. Accordingly, the disapproval (QUAL: F),
would be predicted by the same percentage by low scores on
the same variables.
As high scores on the variable Confidence and Independence
Open Access 17
J. A. P. NEIRA, I. R. S. SOTO
Percentage of students who passed the test in experimental and control
Multiple correspondence analysis between scores in the post creativity
test and academic performance.
Multiple correspondence analysis between scores in the post creativity
test and academic performance. Dimensions 1 and 3.
(CI) appear as one element-related to the approval in all three
dimensions, is declared now, that academic success can be
explained in a 78.28% by these high scores.
The relationship between the use of Gowin’s V with concept
maps and the development of creativity is still an incipient re-
search problem. In this sense, this empirical study is a break-
through for future research in order to gather evidence in this
line of work. By the MCA it has been established creative pro-
file and model predictor of academic success of engineering
students newly admitted, depending on the dimensions of crea-
tive thinking. Although the results reported sufficient evidence
to affirm the existence of a positive relationship between the
intervention on the physics courses (Gowin’s V and Concept
Maps) and the development of creative thinking in an academic
semester, it is not possible to establish categorical judgments
given the large number of variables involved. Certainly the
development of cognitive skills related to creative thinking
requires consideration the speaking time, because this heavily
contributes to the occurrence of this positive relationship, in
addition to an intervention by Gowin’s V and concept maps in a
larger number of courses simultaneously. Consequently, it fol-
lows that any program aimed at developing creative skills in
higher education should consider a methodological renewal and
Our results indicate that the proposed methodological reno-
vation based learning on concept maps and Gowin’s V diagram
to address the contents of Physics I with Civil Engineering
students, can promote the construction of knowledge and some
characteristics of creative thinking. It also promotes academic
success as students from the experimental group obtained
higher scores. The effectiveness of the V-based learning and
concept maps can be seen in students’ ability to perceive prob-
lems from different directions, which opens the range of possi-
ble solutions, which can turn out to be original and creative for
students, even when it is not in a wider context. This mental
flexibility affects both academically and in their future careers,
where problem solving requires imagination, originality and an
appropriate collaborative climate to achieve the solution. This
is creative thinking’s basis and it is helpful to understand the
relationship between science, society and the environment.
The results also show that it is possible to develop creative
thinking from the students in their own courses, through the
presentation of problems or problematic situations that require
different thinking and analysis for solution. In the proposed
resolution of problems through Gowin’s V and concept map-
ping, specifically in the search phase, selection and pooling of
information develops creative thinking. This also requires other
skills such as critical and analytical thinking, which allow us to
interpret, analyze and evaluate each of the alternatives, and
select the best proposals based on established criteria. In this
context, it can be stated that this proposal’s implementation for
the development of creative thinking in more courses through-
out the student’s curriculum, should encourage open-minded-
ness, flexibility, verbal fluency and originality in the students,
which would lead to be able to generate more than one alterna-
tive solution to a problem or situation.
Consequently, the academic activity should create learning
environments that provide opportunities to develop creativity in
the classroom, generating thinking flexibility, especially in the
J. A. P. NEIRA, I. R. S. SOTO
early college courses, which are less likely to have this opening
problematic, because sometimes characterized by constant re-
petition of activities and procedures, which influences the qual-
ity of the productions generated by students (Sanchez, 2012).
Thus, from the early years students will develop: thought inde-
pendence, use and versatility in finding information, favoring
observation capacities and establish relations in problem solv-
ing and making decisions.
Based on these experiences, it is concluded that progress is
being made in the level of creativity and inventiveness of the
students through the use of the Gowin’s V and concept maps as
a medium for problem solving and knowledge building, both
used as active learning methods that stimulate and support crea-
tivity and inventiveness. Although this proposal has not sig-
nificantly influenced in all studied categories of creativity, it is
thought that extending the time of the intervention and the
number of courses in which it is implemented, the results will
The first comment that comes from the analysis of the results
is to point out that the use of concept maps and Gowin’s V
diagrams as tools for analysis and problem solving, promotes
academic performance and success.
While ICPQ post test results do not allow establishing sig-
nificant differences in pre-test, the Figure 6 shows a tendency
of developments in Art and Writing dimensions, Confidence
and Independence, and Varied Interest approaching to high
scores. Whereas working time has not exceeded 3 months,
which is not enough to change these cognitive skills. It opens
the possibility that the incorporation of these heuristic devices
within broader academic period, will uncover the appropriate
changes in creativity levels and thus enhance the ability to
transfer and promote meaningful learning.
Considering that all groups were evaluated constantly, at the
same moment and with the same instrument, the exercise to
facilitate the content and not delay it becomes a problem, since
the processes of reflection and negotiation of meaning require
longer periods of time than to resolve exercises in a mechanic
way. Consequently, the introduction of heuristic devices in the
classroom involves an increase in the time to teach and learn
the content, which constitutes an advantage for groups that
work mechanically, considering the simultaneous evaluations.
Producing the analysis of the categories of creativity and its
relationship to academic performance (Figures 8 and 9), it is
possible to note that scores high on Confidence and Independ-
ence, explain on a 78.28% approval note, exceeding high scores
in Imagination, with 65.25%, and in defiance and ingenuity,
with 57.89%. For its part, the reprobation would be explained
by lower results in the same categories and respecting the ratio
percentages. In summary, academic success is highly related to
the creative capabilities that each student shows.
The high correlation between some dimensions of creativity
and academic success, indicates the importance of this cogni-
tive variable (creativity) in the teaching and learning science, so
it is urgent to consider it at the moment of building intervention
methods in the classroom. Moreover, despite of the information
obtained product of the analysis, it should further deepen the
role played by the creative skills in learning, as well as in the
future academic and professional students.
It is noteworthy that the type of work, based on the active
participation of students in front of the construction of concept
maps and V diagrams, has allowed building an atmosphere of
collaboration and dialogue in the classroom, which has facili-
tated reflection and negotiation of meanings. By producing this,
students have maintained a positive attitude in the face of new
information and solving problems.
This research is made possible through funding obtained
from the research project FONDECYT N˚ 1120767 entitled
“Towards a program to develop cognitive strategies from phys-
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