Date of Graduation

5-2020

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Advisor

Christian Goering

Committee Member

Marcia Imbeau

Second Committee Member

Michael Wavering

Keywords

Creativity, Early Career Teacher, English Education, Secondary Education, Teaching and Learning Environment

Abstract

Creativity in the context of teaching and learning has renewed its popularity in today’s social discourse. Journalists, business leaders, economists, government officials, entrepreneurs, and lay people are calling for those in P-20 education to produce workers and citizens with skills that allow them to be flexible and critical thinkers, as well as innovative problem-solvers. This qualitative, multiple case study examined early-career English teachers’ conceptual understanding of and classroom practices related to cultivating creativity skills among students. Data were gathered through opening interviews, classroom teaching observations, closing interviews.

This study culminated in four major findings. The first was that the teachers in this study had a basic, foundational understanding of creative theory despite not experiencing direct instruction on creative theory in their teacher preparation program. Second, the data indicated that the vast majority of learning in contemporary secondary English classrooms focuses on cultivating critical-convergent thinking skills, with limited, if any activities focused on developing creative-divergent thinking skills. The root cause of such a focus is the potential ramification of high-stakes, standardized testing results. Third, this study revealed that in addition to the teaching and learning environment conditions under the control of the classroom teacher, there were inherent school structures that supported students in developing their creative skills, specifically elective course offerings and extended block scheduling of classes; and inherent school structures that detracted from creative skills development, namely standardized testing and related preparation. And finally, the data of this study revealed that three of the four participants had alignment between their conceptual understanding of creativity and their pedagogical practices that supported creative development in their students. One participant struggled to incorporate pedagogical practices that supported her understanding of creativity.

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