Why use creative activities in the professional classroom? Two GSE faculty will join a colleague from the School of Business Administration in a new project sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation Leadership Program to study the effectiveness of hands-on, creative lessons on student learning. Dr. Candyce Reynolds (Educational Leadership and Policy), Dannelle Stevens (Curriculum and Instruction), and Dr. Ellen West (School of Business Administration), were recently selected through a competitive, peer-reviewed process to become CASTL Scholars, (Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.)
The three PSU faculty members were also selected to attend the Carnegie Foundation’s leadership institute in June. The institute is dedicated to finding ways to cultivate innovative teaching practices while studying the effectiveness of these practices with students from a variety of disciplines. Their activities included building a Rube Goldberg device as a way to explore creativity.
“The CASTL Institute was fabulous,” says Dr. Reynolds. “There was a cross section of faculty from a variety of fields, and we received excellent feedback from our mentor on our project.”
Creativity in lessons has been both lauded and criticized. Some feel it is irrelevant and frivolous, while others cite it as an effective tool that challenges higher level thinking processes and deepens learning. While many students informally relate the value of creative activities in their lessons, the trio wanted more concrete evidence. Their plan is to “measure the impact through analyzing actual student work using common rubrics and by analyzing student reflections in focus groups.”
The cross-disciplinary study began this summer and will continue through spring 2011 at PSU in three separate classes: Research Methods in Education, Developing Creativity and Innovation in Business, and Action Research. The group will employ a variety of creative techniques, including improvisational acting, writing, drawing, graphic arts, music, poetry and film. While business and education lessons differ, all will study the following criteria:
- Risk taking
- Innovative thinking
- Connecting, synthesizing and transforming
- Acquisition of course competencies
How will they measure the outcome of their work? Drs. West, Stevens and Reynolds will spend this school year working together to study and document the effectiveness of creative lessons using the Creative Thinking and Integrative Learning VALUES rubrics derived from the American Association of Colleges and Universities. Dr. Stevens says, “It is really a very interesting project because people scoff at whether we can really measure the illusive construct, ’creativity.’ We just want to see what we can find out.”
The trio hopes their findings will prove a useful measure of the impact of creative processes for other disciplines throughout the PSU campus.
In October, Drs. Reynolds, Stevens, and West will present their findings to the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Liverpool.
Find more information on CASTL projects on the Carnegie Foundation website.