Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Hiding in Plain Sight: Exploring Middle School Teachers' Accounts of Creativity for Teaching
by Mull, John Charles, Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2019, 217; 13859102
Abstract (Summary)

Creativity has gained prominence as an important skill for citizens in a rapidly-changing, hyperconnected world. This study introduces and attempts to understand a new construct—creativity for teaching (CFT)—which captures how teachers apply their own creativity.  Education researchers largely eschew the term creativity in favor of other constructs, though creativity clearly plays an important role in studies related to teacher effectiveness.  This qualitative study, situated in a high-achieving suburban middle school, considered: (1) in what ways and to what extent teachers see themselves, their work, and their profession as creative, (2) in what ways and to what extent teachers see other teachers’ work as creative, and (3) what factors inspire, promote, or inhibit teachers’ creativity.  Eight teachers participated in two semi-structured interviews and completed a series of CFT logs that limited reflections to a 24-hour period of time; fifteen additional participants contributed through focus group interviews.  Teachers’ first impressions of creativity highlighted: personality factors, the Arts, and highly memorable personal examples of creative products, made from scratch, and featuring high investments of time.  Many teachers initially indicated that they did not see themselves as creative.  When prompted to consider a specific definition for CFT, teachers identified many examples from their own practices that were smaller in scale, greater in frequency, and better aligned with the reasons they noted CFT was important.  Teachers acknowledged that their conceptions of creativity broadened as a result of their reflection.  Variations in CFT were evident across subject matter areas; however, in all cases, pedagogical content knowledge was critical for teachers to apply their CFT in ways that promoted student learning.  CFT was determined to be essential to the work of teachers, but the individualized nature of novelty and contextual value inherent in CFT make it easy to overlook.  Implications of these findings for the academy, school leaders, and professional development include recommendations to explicitly include creativity in the discourse of teacher practices, make clear the expectation for teachers to use creativity on an everyday basis, and prompt teachers to consider broader notions of creativity that connect to their classroom practice and their subject matter.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Reisman, Abby
Commitee: D'Auria, John, Kafai, Yasmin
School: University of Pennsylvania
Department: Educational Leadership
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 80/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Middle School education, Teacher education
Keywords: Creativity, Creativity for teaching, Teacher expertise, Teacher growth, Teacher identity, Teaching
Publication Number: 13859102
ISBN: 978-1-392-22703-9
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