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A Call to Action: The Challenges of Creative Teaching and Learning


by Keith Sawyer — 2015

Background/Context: In spite of the widely acknowledged importance of creativity to society and the economy, scholars have had difficulty providing research-based recommendations for how to foster creativity in schools. The article extends three strands of research that have attempted to provide such recommendations: studies of whether creativity training enhances domain-general creativity; studies of whether arts education and arts integration enhance cognitive skills that transfer to other content areas; and studies of collaborative learning environments, designed to foster deeper conceptual understanding in the content areas.

Purpose/Objective: The focus of the article is to provide recommendations for how to design learning environments to foster greater creativity. I bring together arts education research, creativity research, and learning sciences research to provide recommendations for how to design learning environments to foster creative learning outcomes.

Research Design: This is primarily a review article. It provides meta-analyses of three strands of research—creativity training, arts education, and learning sciences. The conclusion of this review is that domain-general creativity training is less effective than domain-specific changes in how each subject is taught.

Conclusions: We are not likely to enhance student creativity by teaching for creativity in a distinct, domain general way. Instead, educating for creativity is most effective when schools change the way each subject is taught. Learning sciences research has provided strong evidence that the most creative learning, in all subjects, results from pedagogical strategies that are active, constructivist, collaborative, and improvisational. I provide research-based recommendations for how to design learning environments that result in creative learning outcomes.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 117 Number 10, 2015, p. 1-34
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 18082, Date Accessed: 3/24/2017 12:05:42 PM

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About the Author
  • Keith Sawyer
    University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill
    E-mail Author
    KEITH SAWYER, PhD, is the Morgan Distinguished Professor in Educational Innovations at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. He studies creativity, collaboration, and learning. Dr. Sawyer uses qualitative and quantitative methods to examine the conversational dynamics of groups in real-world contexts. Sawyer’s current approach is inspired by his early empirical studies of the interactional processes in jazz ensembles, improvisational theater groups, and children at play. His research suggests that collaborative improvisational processes can enhance learning and creativity.
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