The Five Colleges of Ohio
Teagle Foundation


The following linear representation of a problem-solving thought process, developed by Puccio, Murdock, and Mance (2005), provides an excellent example of how characteristics and behaviors of Critical Thinking and Creative Thinking operate.

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Assessing Situation
Exploring a Vision
Formulating Challenges
Exploring Ideas
Formulating Solutions
Exploring Acceptance
Formulating a Plan
Cognitive Skills
Affective Skills
Sensing Gaps

Avoiding Premature
Sensitivity to Environment
Tolerance for Risks


As Puccio, Murdock, and Mance have constructed the paradigm, specific cognitive and affective domains are activated – or highlighted – as the process moves from start to finish. For instance, In step #1, the individual assessing the situation, relying upon curiosity and diagnostic skills such as Analyzing, Describing, and Selecting. Curiosity, however, does not again appear, although Puccio, Murdock, and Mance note that openness to novelty, tolerance for ambiguity, and tolerance for complexity underlie all stages of creative problem solving.

This Creative Problem Solving has real value in terms of understanding how faculty and students approach a range of problems, both inside and outside the classroom. However, Teagle Project faculty have found that multiple components of creative and critical thinking are at work throughout, some emerging more predominantly at certain points than at others, depending on context and individual. The Ven diagram below, we offer one example of how and when certain central characteristics and behaviors of CT and CR might manifest themselves. The numbers beside each text block refer to the steps identified above: For instance, “Openness to Novelty,” generally considered a quality of a creative thinking, can be associated with all seven steps; “Imagination” may dominate in steps 2 and 6; “Reasoning Through Logic” in 3 and 6. Please remember, though, that the diagram represents only one possibility of which features might dominate; the diagram is not intended to generalize across populations, contexts, or problem-solving events, except to illustrate the dynamic and complex nature of how we think and the kind of thinking we hope to nurture in our students.