OGDEN -- ShayLynne Clark plans to graduate from Weber State University in May and head to medical school this fall. And for her four years of hard work, she will take with her three bachelor's degrees, in anthropology, microbiology and interdisciplinary studies with an emphasis on chemistry.
She'll also take with her the strong belief, backed by her own research, that people who work together productively as a group can solve problems a lot more creatively than they could in groups with overbearing leaders.
"Everything is kind of interconnected," said Clark, 22 and a Taylorsville resident who won't miss the daily commute for classes.
"That's the theory I operate on, that if we can understand each other and connect as a group, we would be unstoppable. We would improve medical conditions and living conditions.
"We could make all kinds of positive changes in the world."
Clark did her WSU senior project on artistic creativity and group dynamics.
She worked together with the WSU Chamber Choir, of which she is a member, and with a student dance teacher and group that was collaborating on a new work called "Coil."
The dance piece and a performance by the Chamber Choir will be presented in a free performance at 4:15 p.m. Thursday in the Austad Auditorium in Weber State's Browning Center. Weber State is at 3848 Harrison Blvd.
Clark began by researching creativity and found sources that argued creativity was most uninhibited when created by an individual. Groups were far less supportive of the creative process, she read.
So Clark decided to test her theories on the Chamber Choir.
She divided singers into two groups of about 15 members. She then asked each group to create an original work based on the idea of electricity. She provided each group with a mentor.
In one group, the mentor would keep the discussion on track and encourage everyone to participate. In the other group, the mentor would remain silent and see how the group solved its problem without guidance.
"In the first group, the moderator kept everyone on task, then stepped back when the ball was rolling," Clark said. "That group came up with a lot more creative ideas from more different individuals, and the group was supportive of all the different ideas.
"In the second group, with the inactive moderator, three leaders emerged, and they tried to control things and did not step back. That group came up with fewer ideas and fewer creative choices.
"In the group with the inactive moderator, only 10 percent of members gave ideas. In the group with an active moderator, 60 percent gave ideas."
So having a moderator to guide discussion, but not dominate the process, was most creatively productive, Clark said.
Clark and the Chamber Choir also collaborated with "Coil," directed by choreographer and WSU dance professor Erik Stern. The choir created interpretive music to go along with what the dancers were doing.
Observing creative interactions allowed Clark to collect more data, which further strengthened her beliefs that groups are more creative in semistructured situations and when members feel their suggestions will find support.
Clark will present her findings as part of the 26th National Conference on Undergraduate Research, to be hosted by Weber State from Thursday through Saturday.
The conference is expected to draw more than 2,700 undergraduates from across the nation who will share their research. The conference also will draw about 400 faculty members who will speak, mediate discussions or simply support their students.
Clark will speak about her research findings at 8:30 a.m. Thursday in Room 136 of the Browning Center.