Helping students to become creative and critical thinkers is one of the principal goals of any teacher or school. Creative problem solving involves “a system, a method, a plan for dealing with perplexing situations” (Erberle, 1984).
The SCAMPER technique offers a systematic and practical way to stimulate divergent thinking, imagination, originality, and intuition while scaffolding students’ creative thinking for independent use on other tasks (Glenn, 1997). The SCAMPER mnemonic developed by Robert Eberle, applies verbs as springboards for brainstorming and problem solving. It systematically helps students to think creatively to generate new ideas or modify existing ones. This strategy is regarded as a learning tool that stimulates awareness, drive, fluency, cognitive flexibility, and originality through queries not typically posed.
- SCAMPER works by providing a list of active verbs that are associated with a problem to create ideas.
- As verbs, they are about doing, and as such, help students to transform thinking into action.
- When the imagination draws a blank, the idea is to take an existing thought and manipulate it into a new idea. Everything new is simply an addition or modification to something that already existed.
- This list of idea-spurring approaches can be used to generate new ideas.
- Determine what aspects of the text could be substituted for by other alternatives.
- Replace something new in the passage to take the place of a character, event, location, time, etc. For example, if the setting is chosen, substitute another setting for the story.
- Reflect on the effects of this change on other aspects of the story.
- Mingle purposes, ideas, materials from the story. Bring together or unite.
- Decide which parts of the story or text could be combined with parts of another story or text.
- Merge them into one hypothetical story and observe the changes.
- Adjust to suit a condition, tune up or down, agree, reshape. (e.g., How would the story change if it were set in modern times?
- Brainstorm elements of the story other than the characters, you wish to alter.
- If plot is chosen, alter a specific event in the story. Contemplate how the characters would react to these changes.
M…Magnify, Modify, Minimize
- Enlarge or make greater in quality or form, or alter or change in form or quality, or make smaller, lighter, slower, less frequent.
- Consider how a particular aspect of the story or text would change if one or more of the other aspects were to be modified.
P…Put to Other Uses
- Use something for other than the intended purpose.
- Ask yourself how you could change the theme or main idea of the story or text.
- Determine how this change would affect the plot, characters and setting of the story.
- Remove, omit, simplify, or get rid of a quality, part, or whole.
- Eliminate an aspect of the story.
- If you choose a character, determine how the plot would change with his/her absence.
- If you choose to eliminate a specific part of the setting, such as a house or a city, determine how the plot or the characters would be affected by this removal.
- Change order or sequence, adjust, or create another layout or scheme.
- Observe the plot of the story as a timeline.
- Rearrange the order of events in the plot and consider the impact of this action.
- When introducing this technique, it is helpful to focus on only one or two of the letters.
- Find a piece of literature or expository text that is of interest and read it critically.
- Apply the SCAMPER framework s verbs to manipulate the piece of text.