Creativity in the School Context

University dissertation from Department of Psychology, Lund University

Abstract: The main aim of the present investigation was to highlight middle childhood creativity, and the children’s perspective on creativity, in contrast to many, if not most, studies that investigate creativity from an adult perspective and a scholarly definition. This dissertation consists of two quasi-experimental studies, and one interview study. Study I investigated if, and how, state anxiety, brought on by school environment related stressors, might affect children’s ability to utilize their full potential in regards to creativity. Low creativity was found to be associated with increasing levels of anxiety under competition conditions. The results indicate that it is advisable to encourage the less creative to believe in, and develop, their creative abilities or they might lose out on dual fronts – both by experiencing increased anxiety in tasks that require divergent thinking and by not being able to express themselves creatively due to increased anxiety. The main focus of Study II, was to investigate associations between motivational orientation and creativity. Results indicate that intrinsically oriented motivation had a positive effect on creativity overall, but also that the intrinsically motivated under competition conditions, tended to reach higher levels of creativity, than their counterparts in a comparison group, suggesting that the experimental situation in itself may have “triggered” mechanisms, perhaps extrinsically oriented state motivation, to enhance creativity. It seems possible, even plausible, that the competition condition encouraged active exploration into creative solutions. Study III investigated middle childhood children’s understanding of the creativity construct. The analysis indicate that creativity, to a great extent, means art and artistic expression to children. The children did not seem to consider themselves as being creative in the context of flexible thinking, adaptability and problem solving, unless it included a visual arts perspective. Naturally, children will use their creative functions regardless if they are aware of what the definition of the concept is or not, as was evidenced throughout the study, but it is worth considering that, when asking children to be creative, we might actually be limiting them, rather than expanding their range of creative expression.

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