How to Teach Convergent and Divergent Thinking: Definitions, Examples, Templates and More (2022)

Not all problems require the same approach.

For many students, knowing how to tackle certain problems starts by recognizing when to apply convergent and divergent thinking.

To help you effectively teach and reinforce these strategies, read through it, and then reference it as you integrate both thinking methods into your lessons.

The definitions of convergent and divergent thinking

Convergent and divergent thinking are opposites, but both have places in your daily lessons.

American psychologist JP Guilford coined the terms in the 1950s, which take their names from the problem solving processes they describe.

Convergent thinking involves starting with pieces of information, converging around a solution.

How to Teach Convergent and Divergent Thinking: Definitions, Examples, Templates and More (1)

As you can infer, it emphasizes finding the single, optimal solution to a given problem and usually demands thinking at the first or second Depth of Knowledge (DoK) level.

Determining the correct answer to a multiple choice question is an example.

(Video) Convergent vs. Divergent Thinking

The nature of the question does not demand creativity, but inherently encourages the student to consider the veracity of each provided answer before selecting the single correct one. Typically, he or she must apply a limited range of skills and knowledge to reach this answer quickly.

This mirrors many out-of-school scenarios, wherein someone must use all the information available to him or her to make a decision.

Divergent thinking, on the other hand, starts with a prompt that encourages students to think critically, diverging towards distinct answers.

How to Teach Convergent and Divergent Thinking: Definitions, Examples, Templates and More (2)

As you can see, the prompts -- in the form of guiding questions -- are open-ended and typically require thinking at the third, or even fourth, Depth of Knowledge level.

Writing an essay and brainstorming are examples of exercises that demand divergent thinking.

Creativity plays an important role, as students should usually reach an answer they did not anticipate upon processing the prompt. This is because the prompt should encourage them to analyze content and generate their own ideas to arrive at a range of plausible solutions.

This mirrors real-life situations in which students face a broad problem without much information.

Now that you understand convergent and divergent thinking, you’re probably curious about the kinds of questions that incite each strategy.

Examples of convergent vs. divergent questions

Like most teaching tasks, writing convergent and divergent questions is easier said than done.

Use these examples as templates, and to guide your creation of content-appropriate convergent and divergent questions:

How to Teach Convergent and Divergent Thinking: Definitions, Examples, Templates and More (3)

Although it’s likely these convergent and divergent question examples aren’t completely applicable to you, they should -- at the very least -- give you a clear idea about how to structure your own questions.

(Video) Convergent Thinking Versus Divergent Thinking

How to write original convergent and divergent questions

How to Teach Convergent and Divergent Thinking: Definitions, Examples, Templates and More (4)

Using the above examples as inspiration, keep these tips in mind to create your own convergent and divergent questions:

  • Focus on the beginning --Before you get into the nitty gritty of crafting a question, you should understand that the first few words are the most important. That’s because they’ll largely deem what kind of responses you’ll receive. Convergent questions typically start with “who,” “what,” “where” or “when.” Divergent questions usually begin with “how could,” “what might” or “suppose.”
  • Search far and wide for the answers --Validating a question starts by finding answers. You shouldn’t have a tough time answering convergent questions. Flipping through a textbook, lesson notes or an online resource should yield a clear answer. On the other hand, you shouldn’t find a definitive answer to a divergent question through such research methods. You’re encouraging students to deliver original responses born fromcritical thinking, after all.
  • Make convergent questions before divergent ones --If you struggle to brainstorm divergent questions, start with convergent questions. Often, the process of writing three to four convergent questions will allow you to combine them into a divergent one. Consider the notion that divergent queries begin with phrases such as “suppose.” Answering a “suppose” question comes from understanding “what,” “who” and the answers to other convergent questions.

With examples in your toolbox -- and tips about how to create your own questions -- you need to consider the appropriate times to ask them.

When, and how, to give opportunities for convergent and divergent thinking

How to Teach Convergent and Divergent Thinking: Definitions, Examples, Templates and More (5)

(Video) Divergent Thinking And Convergent Thinking - Creative Thinking Course || Create TUBEity

During lessons, before study times and at the conclusions of entire units, opportunities to spur and assess convergent and divergent thinking will present themselves.

Here are four opportunities to encourage convergent thinking, and how to do so:

1. You’re in the middle of a math lesson, and arrive at aword problem. Don’t immediately start the problem-solving process. Instead, walk through the wording with students before giving them five minutes of independent work. Using their notes and textbooks for reference, they can determine the functions needed to solve the problem.

2. The content you’re delivering in history, social studies or language arts class is broad enough that you anticipate students will struggle to process it. As a quickdifferentiated instruction exercise, provide a physical timeline and list of events to small groups of students. Ask them to pin the events to the timeline, aiding contextualization.

3. You’re giving a lecture-style lesson, and want to avoid providing a solution without giving students a chance to answer the question. But they’re struggling to respond. To enable convergent thinking, present potential answers in a multiple-choice style fashion. “Who wrote [text]? Was it [author], [author] or [author]?”

4. It’s the end of a unit. To review content in preparation for an assessment, ask students to summarize aspects of the unit. For example, “Listxways to applyyskill.” Or, “In what ways did [person] accomplish [goal].” If you provide a high number of such tasks, you can run ajigsaw activity, allowing students to work together to review key material.

Here are four opportunities to encourage divergent thinking, and how to do so:

1. You’re reading a play or novel as a class, and the protagonist faces a major problem. Before learning how he overcomes it, ask the class to think of as many solutions as possible. You can run this as a think-pair-share activity. Specifically, students can individuallythinkof solutions,pairwith one another to exchange ideasand thensharethese ideas with the class.

2. Running through new math problems as a class, you present a broad word problem that’s rooted in skills students already have. Instead of immediately solving the question, give them 15 minutes to find as many methods of solving it as possible. After, hold a class discussion to share responses.

3. Your class has made it to the end of a history or social studies unit. They have a fresh, firm grasp on the unit’s content, meaning it’s an ideal time to pose a query that demands divergent thinking. Ask them what they believe would have happened if a given figure had doneyinstead ofx. Individually, or as a small group, students should write a short paper on potential outcomes and impacts.

(Video) Convergent vs. Divergent Questions

4. Students are a week or two away from starting a written assessment. Why not prepare them with aformative assessment? Simply give them a mock essay question that deals with similar subject matter, helping them study as they investigate different responses.

Although you can use them separately, convergent and divergent thinking aren’t mutually exclusive.

How to Teach Convergent and Divergent Thinking: Definitions, Examples, Templates and More (6)

This is because divergent thinking can lead in to convergent thinking.

Consider asking a question such as, “Suppose Bilbo Baggins didn’t pick up the Ring when he first had the chance. How might his encounter with Gollum have been different? What are some potential outcomes?” Students who have a firm grasp of The Hobbit would likely generate many ideas from this divergent question.

This opens the door to asking a convergent question as a follow-up. For example, “Based on the different outcomes you envisioned, which one is the most probable? Why?”

Linking the two thinking styles in this manner can prepare students to write essays and tackle open-ended projects, as well as out-of-school dilemmas in which they must choose the single-best course of action.

Final thoughts

Developing strong commands of convergent and divergent thinking should empower students to tackle challenging problems, in and out of the classroom.

What’s more, being able to use the thinking styles -- independently and together -- is critical in many projects, group activities and forms of assessment.

This is why it’s crucial to provide opportunities to apply convergent and divergent thinking, while offering scaffolding and supplementary instruction.

(Video) Divergent Thinking Examples

Reading and referencing this guide is only a first step, albeit an important one.

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FAQs

How do you teach convergent and divergent? ›

Convergent questions typically start with “who,” “what,” “where” or “when.” Divergent questions usually begin with “how could,” “what might” or “suppose.” Search far and wide for the answers -- Validating a question starts by finding answers. You shouldn't have a tough time answering convergent questions.

What is the simplest way of defining convergent and divergent thinking? ›

Summary. Convergent thinking focuses on finding one well-defined solution to a problem. Divergent thinking is the opposite of convergent thinking and involves more creativity. In this piece, we'll explain the differences between convergent and divergent thinking in the problem-solving process.

What is convergent and divergent thinking with examples? ›

The convergent example asks for a vehicle, whereas the divergent example doesn't rule out options like moving closer to work, telecommuting, walking, carpooling, or taking public transportation. Both examples will produce valuable results. The convergent example may be driven by other issues.

How do you teach divergent thinking? ›

One simple yet effective way to help students think divergently is by asking open-ended questions. [12] Open-ended questions are defined as ones that cannot be answered by “yes” or “no.” The more open a question is, the more likely students will be able to come up with many different answers.

How do you practice convergent thinking? ›

Your task is to practice convergent thinking by grouping similar ideas together. Look for thoughts or ideas that appear to fit together, then identify the category or group these ideas represent. Give a label or "heading" to each of the categories you identify.

How can teachers encourage divergent thinking in their students quizlet? ›

How can teachers encourage divergent thinking in their students? They can give frequent multiple choice quizzes in class. They can assign papers that require each student to create a clear thesis and provide evidence to support it.

What is convergent thinking in simple words? ›

Convergent thinking is the type of thinking that focuses on coming up with the single, well-established answer to a problem. It is oriented toward deriving the single best, or most often correct answer to a question.

What is divergent thinking explain with example? ›

An example of divergent thinking is taking a pile of blocks and using them to create as many designs as you can. While divergent and convergent thinking are contrasting thought processes, teams often use these two methods together to achieve results.

What are some examples of convergent thinking? ›

Examples of convergent thinking: A student determining the correct answer to a multiple choice question on a math test.

Which of the following activities is an example of divergent thinking? ›

Activities which promote divergent thinking include creating lists of questions, setting aside time for thinking and meditation, brainstorming, subject mapping, bubble mapping, keeping a journal, playing tabletop role-playing games, creating artwork, and free writing.

What is an example of divergent thinking question? ›

These types of questions often require students to analyze, synthesize, or evaluate a knowledge base and then project or predict different outcomes. A simple example of a divergent question is: Write down as many different uses as you can think of for the following objects: (1) a brick, (2) a blanket.

What is the best description of divergent thinking? ›

Divergent thinking, often referred to as lateral thinking, is the process of creating multiple, unique ideas or solutions to a problem that you are trying to solve. Through spontaneous, free-flowing thinking, divergent thinking requires coming up with many different answers or routes forward.

What are convergent thinking tools? ›

Convergent tools on the other hand, implies that we take several ideas and put them together in a way they can be related. Convergent thinking requieres a deep analysis of the situation to be able to come up with a solution. This process is very organized and may not seem to be spontaneous like divergent thinking.

What is another word for divergent thinking? ›

Alternate Synonyms for "divergent thinking":

out-of-the-box thinking; thinking; thought; thought process; cerebration; intellection; mentation.

Why should teachers use divergent questions in the class? ›

Divergent questions are open-ended questions by nature since they promote the discovery of multiple plausible responses or answers to a problem. They also promote increased student engagement in classroom learning.

What are convergent activities? ›

The general idea of convergent (critical) thinking is to refine the number and quality of possible ideas. This disciplined process results in the imergance of the one or two ideas that best match the framed issue or desired outcome. There are twe general types of convergent thinking activities.

What part of brain is responsible for convergent thinking? ›

Previous studies on convergent neuroscience have revealed that areas of the rostrolateral prefrontal cortex, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), and hippocampus are important for convergent creative thinking as described below.

What is the difference between convergent and divergent learning? ›

Abstract: Divergent thinking is the process of generating multiple solutions for a given problem, while convergent thinking is evaluating and selecting accurate solution based on constraints, assumptions, and pros and cons analysis.

How can teachers encourage creative thinking in their students? ›

Inspire students to take risks with their ideas.

Encourage them to take risks in their work by giving them time to explore their thoughts and come up with innovative solutions on a wide range of projects they are working on so that they can show you what's possible when they apply themselves creatively.

What are the three criteria that are used to determine whether an idea is creative? ›

When applying these three criteria, it is critical to recognize that originality, usefulness, and surprise are all quantitative rather than qualitative attributes of an idea. Specifically, we really have to speak of degree to which an idea satisfies each of the three criteria.

What is big C and little c creativity? ›

Most investigations of creativity tend to take one of two directions: everyday creativity (also called "little-c"), which can be found in nearly all people, and eminent creativity (also called "Big-C"), which is reserved for the great.

What is the difference between convergent thinking and divergent thinking? ›

Convergent thinking is the process of finding concrete and familiar solutions to problems. Divergent thinking refers to a creative process of generating original ideas and new possibilities. It's fairly easy to differentiate between the two.

What are the 3 types of thinking? ›

3 Modes Of Thinking: Lateral, Divergent & Convergent Thought.

What is the difference between convergence and divergence? ›

Divergence generally means two things are moving apart while convergence implies that two forces are moving together. In the world of economics, finance, and trading, divergence and convergence are terms used to describe the directional relationship of two trends, prices, or indicators.

What is an example of divergent? ›

The definition of divergent is things that move in different directions or that are far apart from each other. An example of divergent are the ideologies of a liberal democrat and a conservative republican. An example of divergent is a path that splits off into two different directions.

Which part of the brain is responsible for divergent thinking? ›

In sum, emerging evidence indicates that brain regions in the left IFG, mPFC, parietal lobe, and medial temporal lobe are potentially involved in the mental process of divergent thinking.

What brain part is divergent thinking? ›

The results showed that divergent thinking was consistently positively correlated with regional BEN in the left dorsal anterior cingulate cortex/pre-supplementary motor area and left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, suggesting that creativity is closely related to the functional dynamics of the control networks involved ...

What type of questions are divergent questions? ›

Questions that students answer by analysis, synthesis, or evaluation using their related knowledge of a question, a problem, or a situation are referred to as divergent questions. For example- Multiple correct answer question. Open-ended questions: They may have multiple answers.

How do we balance convergent and divergent thinking? ›

According to this model, two types have quite different approaches to solving problems: divergent vs. convergent thinkers.
...
Here's how to channel your inner creative genius.
  1. Change the way you look at things. ...
  2. Give brainstorming a try. ...
  3. Give yourself more time. ...
  4. Take risks and be curious. ...
  5. Use collaboration tools.
19 Jan 2022

Is brainstorming convergent thinking? ›

Brainstorming and the following activities are great examples of divergent and convergent thinking. Brainstorming is team-based divergent thinking in action. It's how teams come up with many possible solutions to a problem.

What are the sub skills associated with convergent and divergent thinking? ›

So, divergent thinking concentrates on generating a large number of alternative responses including original, unexpected, or unusual ideas. Thus, divergent thinking is associated with creativity. Convergent thinking involves finding only the single correct answer, conventional to a well-defined problem.

Why is divergent thinking important in education? ›

WHY IS DIVERGENT THINKING IMPORTANT? Opens possibilities of innovative ways to solve more complex problems, overcoming the tendency of many learners to only work within the confines of first impressions or latent assumptions. Fosters empathic understanding of difference and appreciation of varying perspectives.

What does divergent thinking rely on? ›

Although the two thinking processes vastly differ, divergent thinking relies on convergent thinking to arrive at a solution. Successful problem solvers confront a problem in which creative ideas are copious, yet they narrow down their chosen solution through convergent thinking.

Which type of questions asked by a teacher are convergent questions? ›

Types of Questions

Convergent questions have only one answer and they assess lower-level thinking. For example, "What is the capital of the United States?" This type of question focuses on memory recall. Divergent questions are questions that do not have only one answer and focus on higher-level thinking.

How can you encourage learners to ask questions during a discussion? ›

7 Tips for Teaching and Encouraging Students to Ask Questions
  1. Make your Classroom Environment a Safe Place for Questions. ...
  2. Praise Students for Asking Questions. ...
  3. Teach your Students About Open-Ended and Closed Questions. ...
  4. Slow Down to Leave Room for Questions. ...
  5. Provide Opportunities to Practice Asking Questions.
28 Jun 2021

Why is convergent and divergent thinking important? ›

Convergent and Divergent Thinking

It's important to note that this method leaves no room for uncertainty — answers are either right or wrong. Because of this, the more knowledge someone has of a subject, the more accurately they are able to answer clearly defined questions.

Who is the father of convergent thinking? ›

This thinking style was described and developed by psychologist Joy Paul Guilford, who studied human intelligence. According to Guilford, human beings possess two types of thinking: Divergent Thinking and Convergent Thinking.

Which stage of the six step process focuses on converging of ideas? ›

Formulate Solutions

This is the convergent stage of CPS, where you begin to focus on evaluating all of your possible options and come up with solutions. Analyze whether potential solutions meet your needs and criteria, and decide whether you can implement them successfully.

What is the opposite of divergent thinking? ›

Convergent thinking focuses on finding one well-defined solution to a problem. Divergent thinking is the opposite of convergent thinking and involves more creativity.

What is the synonym of convergent thinking? ›

Synonyms. thinking; thought; thought process; cerebration; intellection; mentation.

What is a synonym for convergent? ›

Synonyms: confluent, merging. flowing together. focused, focussed. (of light rays) converging on a point. oblique.

How do you teach convergent and divergent? ›

Convergent questions typically start with “who,” “what,” “where” or “when.” Divergent questions usually begin with “how could,” “what might” or “suppose.” Search far and wide for the answers -- Validating a question starts by finding answers. You shouldn't have a tough time answering convergent questions.

How can you encourage divergent thinking in the classroom? ›

One simple yet effective way to help students think divergently is by asking open-ended questions. [12] Open-ended questions are defined as ones that cannot be answered by “yes” or “no.” The more open a question is, the more likely students will be able to come up with many different answers.

How do you promote divergent thinking? ›

Techniques to Stimulate Divergent Thinking
  1. Brainstorming. Brainstorming is a technique which involves generating a list of ideas in a creative, unstructured manner. ...
  2. Keeping a Journal. Journals are an effective way to record ideas that one thinks of spontaneously. ...
  3. Freewriting. ...
  4. Mind or Subject Mapping.

What is convergent method in teaching? ›

Convergent Thinking

In education, this can be equated to the “drill and kill” approach to teaching in which students are given the correct answer without opportunity to experience the learning process. Convergent thinking is the ability to actively solve a simple, well-defined, accurate answer to a problem.

What is divergent teaching style? ›

The divergent style involves asking a question which will have many correct responses. The divergent style will be used to help students make rules for games to make them playable on their own and in the given context.

How do you tell if a sequence is convergent or divergent? ›

If we say that a sequence converges, it means that the limit of the sequence exists as n → ∞ n\to\infty n→∞. If the limit of the sequence as n → ∞ n\to\infty n→∞ does not exist, we say that the sequence diverges.

How do you tell if a series is convergent or divergent? ›

A convergent series is a series whose partial sums tend to a specific number, also called a limit. A divergent series is a series whose partial sums, by contrast, don't approach a limit. Divergent series typically go to ∞, go to −∞, or don't approach one specific number.

What is convergent thinking in simple words? ›

Convergent thinking is the type of thinking that focuses on coming up with the single, well-established answer to a problem. It is oriented toward deriving the single best, or most often correct answer to a question.

What type of questions are divergent questions? ›

A divergent question is a question with no specific answer, but rather exercises one's ability to think broadly about a certain topic.

What teaching style is being used when students are allowed to choose learning tasks to perform while at various stations? ›

Learning station is a method based on classroom organization and management in which teachers divide students into groups and organize activities so that students can take active role in solving given learning tasks at different places in the class and rotate the groups from station to station.

What are different types of teaching styles? ›

In the contemporary classroom, five distinct teaching styles have emerged as the primary strategies adopted by modern teachers: The Authority Style, The Delegator Style, The Facilitator Style, The Demonstrator Style and The Hybrid Style.

What is the difference between convergence and divergence? ›

Divergence generally means two things are moving apart while convergence implies that two forces are moving together. In the world of economics, finance, and trading, divergence and convergence are terms used to describe the directional relationship of two trends, prices, or indicators.

How do you show that a sequence is convergent? ›

Procedure for Proving That a Defined Sequence Converges
  1. Step 1: State the Sequence. ...
  2. Step 2: Find a Candidate for L. ...
  3. Step 3: Let Epsilon Be Given. ...
  4. Step 4: State Our "magic Number" ...
  5. Step 5: Look for Inequalities. ...
  6. Step 6: Drop the Absolute Value Bars If Possible. ...
  7. Step 7: Define Our Magic K. ...
  8. Step 8: State the Archimedian Property.

How do you find the formula for a sequence? ›

Writing a General Formula of an Arithmetic Sequence - YouTube

What are convergent and divergent questions? ›

For starters, convergent questions will be those that require a single response or answer. Divergent questions are open-ended questions by nature since they promote the discovery of multiple plausible responses or answers to a problem. They also promote increased student engagement in classroom learning.

How do you know if a series converges absolutely or conditionally? ›

If it won't, if you converge, but it doesn't converge when you take the absolute value of the terms, then you say it converges conditionally. If it converges, and it still converges when you take the absolute value of the terms, then we say it converges absolutely.

What is a synonym for convergence? ›

Synonyms. meeting. the meeting of three streams. junction. intersection.

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