Williamson, P. K. (2011). Thinking Skills and Creativity, 6(1), 31-43.
Research, carried out mainly in the period between the 1960s and 1980s, reported significant differences in the thinking styles of science and arts students. At this time university and school teaching was highly specialized and concern was expressed in the ongoing ‘two cultures’ debate (Snow, 1959). Considerable changes have taken place in the provision of education at all levels since this time, including changes in the role and culture of modern universities with a wider range of interdisciplinary degree modules; and the desire for students to keep their career options open, reflecting their uncertain employment future. In this study problem solving tests were completed by one hundred and sixteen participants recruited from a post-1992 university and equally balanced between arts and science undergraduate students. The tests covered convergent thinking, divergent thinking, preferred learning style and creative problem solving skills using examples of novel and imperfectly defined problems in the fields of management and public policy. This was followed by direct interviews with a selected sample to gain more textured insight into their contemporary educational experiences. The findings of this study were in marked contrast to earlier published results in that no differences were found in the problem solving skills of arts and science students. Differences were found in preferred learning styles but these were much smaller than reported previously. This research indicates that modern graduates are likely to have a more balanced educational profile than their specialized predecessors and examines possible causes.