Learning vocabulary through Janusian thinking, a ubiquitous but neglected creative process
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To prepare our students for the challenges of the ever-changing society in modern times, creative thinking should be incorporated into all content areas at all grade levels (Cropley, 2001). However, there has been a paucity of research on the instructional methods integrated with creative processes. The purpose of this study is to apply the creative thinking process in vocabulary instruction. The creative thinking process in this study is Janusian thinking, defined as actively conceiving two or more opposite or antithetical concepts, ideas or images simultaneously (Rothenberg, 1978, p. 175). The term Janusian thinking is named after Janus, the Roman god of gateways and beginnings, whose two faces look in opposite directions simultaneously. The concept of Janusian thinking shares a strong likeness with that of yin and yang in Taoism. Rothenberg (1990) pointed out that verbal opposition tends to be clearer and more specific than opposition in any other mode. Opposition between or among words is easier to define and to assess than other types of oppositional relationship (p. 197). Based on this statement, it is worthwhile to examine the effects of Janusian thinking on vocabulary learning. The experimental design of this study is a 2*2 factorial structure for repeated measures. The two factors in this design are sentence completion and display of antonyms. The independent variable was the teaching method and the dependent variable was the score on the posttest, containing exactly the same words taught in the experiment. There were four methods in this experiment: the traditional method, the traditional method plus sentence completion, the traditional method plus display of antonyms and the Janusian thinking method. The results indicated that the participants had the highest average score on the section of the posttest that measured the words learned by the Janusian thinking method, though the interaction between the two factors was not significant. Besides, the main effect of display of antonyms was significant. Moreover, the Janusian thinking method gave much promise of application in classrooms according to the participants’ positive responses to the questions on the survey attached with the posttest.