Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Building a climate for creativity: A theory of action to improve U.S. elementary schools
by Patsalides, James P., Ph.D., Prescott College, 2015, 359; 3705902
Abstract (Summary)

In the context of a rapidly changing world, higher order thinking skills are necessary for sustainability of U.S. society. Beginning with the premise that U.S. public schools are charged with the constitutional duty of growing children into informed and educated citizens, prepared to thrive in the world of work and to participate in democratic processes; and, that higher order thinking is a core part of that mission, this study examined children’s perspectives on school climate and the environment for the teaching and learning of higher order thinking in twenty five public elementary schools in an urban Connecticut school district. This integrated program of research used an exploratory sequential/concurrent mixed methods design to construct a pair of new psychometric instruments to measure student attitudes toward school climate and the environment for teaching and learning higher order thinking in a public elementary school. The intended uses and interpretations of the scores reported by the Climate4Creativity Elementary (C4C/SPE) and Middle School (C4C/SPM) Student Perspectives measurement instruments, were validated to professional standards. The study concluded that these instruments have utility for public elementary schools, particularly in identifying areas of focus and in the management of strategic and tactical school improvement work as part of a wider program of transformation in a school. Cronbach’s Alpha reliability scores in excess of 0.90 were reported for all measures. This study supported the core idea that safer schools with stronger, more caring communities provide individual students with better learning environments, and that general learning and the learning of creativity are intrinsically linked in the minds of students in public elementary schools, even though these students may not always name these components as such. The environment for learning higher order thinking measure tends to deteriorate from the early grades to middle school grades, implying both raised expectations, and an increase in variability in the data due to more and more variety in classroom settings and teacher practices. Examination of reported bullying experience shows bullying victimization to be a powerful, pervasive determinant of school climate and feelings of safety and community in all grades, but, bullying victimization tends not to penetrate into perceptions of the classroom learning environment to the same degree. By exploring school safety, community, and the structure of the learning environment required for the teaching and learning of higher order thinking in a public elementary school, this work begins the creation of a framework to enable school leaders to make significant, transformational, strategic change in their schools.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Cox Caniglia, Noel
Commitee: Kelleher, Jacquelline, Mitten, Denise, Sammet, Kara
School: Prescott College
Department: Sustainability Education
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 76/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Educational tests & measurements, Educational evaluation, Elementary education
Keywords: Creativity, Learning environment, Rasch measurement, School climate, School improvement
Publication Number: 3705902
ISBN: 9781321792928
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