The Perceived Attributes and Role of Environment to Creative Instruction

Research output: Other contribution

Abstract

Creativity is an exciting area of research in education because it is increasingly understood to benefit learners. Creative teaching is effective teaching that enhances learning (Sawyer, 2011; Reilly et al., 2011; Rinkevich, 2011) and promotes creativity among learners (Nickerson, 2010; Horng et al., 2005). Understanding the effect of context on teachers is essential. Contemporary research makes it difficult to determine how important the environment is to creative instruction. The environmental contexts concerning instructional creativity are not entirely understood. This dissertation asks: What aspects of the environment relate to instructional creativity? This study approached answering this question in three ways. First, by analyzing related literature. Second, by conducting an investigation that defines the key attributes of the environment. And third, by conducting an investigation that delineates the role of those attributes in mediating instructional creativity. The constructs of the Four-P Model of Creativity (Rhodes, 1987) were used as an exploratory beginning to answer the research questions, namely in guiding the review of literature. Rhode’s model was selected because it is widely used to understand creativity in non-educational work environments where creative performance and outcomes are desired. While the Four-P Model is popular in creativity research, it has not been extensively utilized to delineate the contexts of creative instruction. Rhode’s model defines four creative dimensions known as the Four-Ps: person, process, product, and press (environment, place). This study used these dimensions to systematically review available literature related to creative instruction, and as a method to reveal and confirm the gaps in knowledge. The literature review established that the Four-Ps of instructional creativity have not been fully investigated. The attributes and role of the environment to creativity in instruction are the least understood and defined. The results of the systematic review were compiled as a conceptual framework based on the existing knowledge. The systematic review and resulting conceptual framework guided a design for discovery that is unique to this domain of research. The uniqueness of the research design is three- fold. First, it puts teachers at the center to learn about instructional creativity: measurably creative teachers are the unit of study. Second, it embraces the existing knowledge that creative teaching benefits the learners. Thus, learners are not included in this investigation. Third, it accepts the assumption that pupils and professionals have a different relationship with the educational environment. The mixed-method approach was implemented in two phases to enhance discovery. For the first phase, creative instructors were selected by using the Abbreviated Torrance Test for Adults to determine their Creative Index or CI (Goff, 2002). Nine participants with a “high” or “substantial” CI (> 5 CI on a scale of 1 to 7) were identified among the 18 phase-one participants. Three were selected for a pre- dissertation pilot study to test the qualitative methodology for phase two. Six were selected to participate in the second phase of the formal study. The mixed-method approach was implemented in two phases to enhance discovery. For the first phase, creative instructors were selected by using the Abbreviated Torrance Test for Adults to determine their Creative Index or CI (Goff, 2002). Nine participants with a “high” or “substantial” CI (> 5 CI on a scale of 1 to 7) were identified among the 18 phase-one participants. Three were selected for a pre- dissertation pilot study to test the qualitative methodology for phase two. Six were selected to participate in the second phase of the formal study. Two semi-structured, responsive interviewing techniques were implemented. Participants were first interviewed in their teaching space, followed immediately by a participant-led, walking interview through the building. The walking interview was designed to utilize the environment as a rich data gathering method. This encouraged participants to share experiences and perceptions about the environment, and to promote the generation of descriptive data. The data was interpreted, coded and analyzed to identify aspects of the environment that they perceive as important to creative instruction. The knowledge that emerged from this study represents the insight of creative teachers who shared personal experiences of feeling creatively enabled or limited. The discoveries are organized within three major findings. The first is multifaceted; defining the attributes and role of the environment that emerge as important to creative instruction. The second demonstrates that the attributes of the environment that relate to creative instruction are interrelated. The third indicates that the organizational environment is dominant and negotiates instructionally creative behavior. This investigation did not evaluate a causal relationship between the environment and instructional creativity. It was not an exploration of educational or developmental psychology. Rather, this work synthesizes the experiences of creative instructions to broaden knowledge about instructional creativity as a system in which the environment plays a distinct role. This work makes important contributions of knowledge to creativity as a field, to education where creative praxis is essential, and defines entry points for future investigations. The longitudinal goal of this work is to gain knowledge about how environment enables instructional creativity for all teachers. This information is relevant to anyone invested in optimizing the place and practice of creative instruction.
Original languageEnglish (US)
TypeDissertation
StatePublished - Apr 2018

Keywords

  • Creativity
  • Design
  • Instruction

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