Creativity In STEM: Students’ and employers’ perspectives



STEM, creativity, employability


Creativity plays an integral role in the creation and improvement of technology for the benefit of society. These advancements originate from creative and skilled individuals working across all fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), leading to creativity being a highly sought after attribute of graduates. To help educators develop STEM students’ creativity and prepare them for the workforce, an understanding of student and employer perceptions of creativity is required. This study aims to explore and identify trends in perceptions of creativity, particularly student views of creativity in employment, and compare them to employer perspectives. An introspective, self-reporting survey was developed and distributed to first, second and third year undergraduate chemistry, mathematics and engineering students, as well as employers. Semi-structured interviews were also conducted with undergraduate students. A total of 423 responses were collected for the study, with 414 from undergraduate students and 9 employers. Additionally, 14 interviews were conducted. Some commonly identified themes for students’ definition of creativity include novelty of ideas, innovation, and imagination. Students believed that links exist between creativity and job retention, promotion and attainment. However, some mismatches between student perceptions and employer perspectives were also found.