Creativity in arts education: A case study in an arts magnet school.
Faculty of Education, Queen`s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
O’Farrell, Larry (2009) Creativity in arts education: A case study in
an arts magnet school. Technical Report.
Summary of key findings
This study asks how arts magnet teachers, students, and
administrators perceive the role of creativity in their school and what
strategies are used in the school to foster learning for creative
achievement, creative teaching, support for creative teaching and
learning, and assessment of creative achievement. The study is grounded
in an analysis of the literature that was completed earlier and a
previous study conducted by this researcher in which teachers of
drama/theatre responded to a survey of teacher views of teaching
creativity and creative teaching (Saebo et al, 2008). The literature
provided a wide range of definitions of creativity and revealed a
consensus that creativity can be fostered in students either by direct
instruction or by removing barriers to creativity (Ripple, 1999).
Teachers of drama/theatre expressed the view that they were responsible
for fostering creativity in their students. Saebo et al (2008)
suggested that the voice of students should be included in future
research and found that teachers could use some help to learn how to
assess creative achievement. This study indicates that there is a need
to take an in-depth look at one, specific arts education program to see
how theories of creativity and views of arts teachers are applied in a
practical school setting. An appropriate methodology to achieve this
goal is a qualitative case study.
The interviews conducted with teachers, students, and administrators at
this arts magnet school addressed three main areas: participants’ views
on the nature of creativity, teaching and assessing creativity in a
school setting, and the culture of an arts magnet school with respect
to fostering creativity. There were some key differences between the
perspectives of students and teachers, most notable their views on the
nature of creativity. Students tended to view creativity as an innate
quality, while teachers viewed it as a skill which could be nurtured
and developed. These opinions about the nature of creativity impacted
the perspectives of the participants on nearly every other topic,
particularly teaching and assessing creativity and the role of the
teacher in fostering creativity. Students saw the teacher as a
motivator for learning, but did not believe they should be formally
assessed on their creativity. Teachers saw themselves as guides in
helping students explore their creativity, and believed that feedback
was an important component of the assessment process that could help
develop creativity. Both groups of participants agreed that a main
advantage of an arts magnet school was the development of a community
of learners who shared interests and were working towards common goals.
Research Questions & Methodology
Qualitative methodology has particular relevance to educational
research (McMillan and Schumacher, 2006, Patton, 2002). Educational
researchers are often concerned about the specific conditions of a
particular educational program. They choose to connect with the diverse
reality of the classroom or project site through qualitative case
Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. The interview
transcripts were then analyzed and coded for common words and ideas.
This was done using an inductive approach, letting the codes emerge
from the data as opposed to beginning with pre-determined codes. This
analysis was performed using ATLAS-ti scientific software. Initial
analysis of the data resulted in the development of 33 unique codes.
These codes were then collapsed into themes and organized according to
the research goals of the study, primarily definitions of creativity,
perspectives on teaching and assessing creativity, and perceived
advantages of an arts magnet school in fostering creativity.
Interviews were conducted with the principal, vice principal, four arts
teachers, five grade nine students and four grade ten students. The
purpose of these interviews was to gather data about understanding and
definition of creativity, teaching and assessing creativity, and the
unique nature of an arts magnet school with respect to fostering
creativity. Questions focused on the themes of defining creativity,
teaching creativity, the assessment of creative achievement and the
role of the school in fostering creativity.
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