This strategy is useful in two major areas of thinking: developing creativity and brainstorming to generate ideas and awareness of relationships. Words and images are forced into an association to develop new perspectives around the original topic. By using seemingly unrelated words to force the connection, limitations of typical associations are removed and creative ideas begin to flow. And, most importantly, students’ basic thinmking is stretched to reach higher levels of learning.
- Carefully review the idea, situation, concept, event, or condition that you want students to consider.
- Choose words that are concrete and accessible to students, but that have no clear relationship to the concept being studied. Examples: Tree, bird, glue, hammer, candle.
- The more random the association, the better to generate forced associations.
- Provide five to six Forced Association terms to use with one course concept.
Write the word on an index card for students to explore in their groups.
- An image or an actual object of that word could be substituted.
On a different card, write the concept/idea that students will be asked to associate with the term.
- Model a Forced Association to demonstrate how the process works.
- Mention the importance of being open to any and all ideas in the brainstorming segment.
Have students work alone for about five minutes to brainstorm and narrow down/refine their associations. In small teams, have students further narrow their list of associations, and then reach consensus about their final choice before offering up their answer. Be sure that at the end of Forced Association, students leave with an understanding of the correct information.