Teacher and Student Perceptions of Creativity in the Classroom Environment

By Fleith, Denise de Souza | Roeper Review, April 2000 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Teacher and Student Perceptions of Creativity in the Classroom Environment

Fleith, Denise de Souza, Roeper Review

Interest in creativity as an area of educational research dates from the second half of the twentieth century. Since then, creativity research findings have had an impact on educational objectives, teaching strategies, administrative practices, and the physical school environment (Torrance, 1983). Educators have emphasized the importance of favorable conditions for developing the creative potential of students. Consequently, several educators and researchers (Alencar, 1993; Henessey & Amabile, 1987; Runco, 1993a; Starko, 1995; Sternberg & Williams, 1996; Torrance, 1983) have suggested ways to cultivate creativity in an educational environment. Some efforts have also been made to discuss factors which constitute barriers to creative classroom behavior (Adams, 1986: Amabile, 1989; Von Oech, 1983).

Despite recognition that the educational environment plays an important role in developing students' creative expression, few attempts have been made to examine teacher and student perceptions about the extent to which creativity has been enhanced or inhibited in that context. According to Fryer and Collings (1991), most studies have approached teachers' views in an indirect way through measuring attitudes before and after creativity workshops, or concentrating on teachers' attitudes towards the personality characteristics associated with creativity. The purpose of this study was to investigate teachers and students perceptions about stimulants and obstacles for the development of creativity in the classroom environment.

The Influence of the Environment on Creativity

Studies in creativity have tried to conceptualize the term creativity and explain the process involved in the creative act. No consensus exists, however, about how to define creativity. The various conceptions of creativity can be divided among four categories which form focal points for researchers and persons interested in the developmental process (Feldhusen & Goh, 1995): person, product, process, and environment. According to Tardiff and Sternberg (1988), the definitions that focus on the creative person include three aspects: cognitive characteristics, personality and emotional qualities, and experiences during one's development (e.g. being a first-born, having many hobbies). The second category of definitions emphasizes the characteristics of the creative product. It must be novel, powerful, valuable or useful to society. The third category concerns process, or how to develop creative products. The creative process can involve an original way to produce unusual ideas, to make different combinations, or to add new ideas to existing knowledge. Finally, the definitions grouped in the fourth category emphasize the role of the environment in promoting or inhibiting creative abilities. In this regard, Csikszentmihalyi (1988) suggested that the most fundamental question in creativity is "where is creativity" and not "what is creativity."

Some authors (Amabile & Tighe, 1993; Csikszentmihalyi, 1996; Gardner, 1993; Sternberg & Lubart, 1991) include social, cultural or historical dimensions in their conceptions of creativity. The zeitgeist, as much as the culture, sets standards for labeling products as creative. These standards can direct an individual's potential or inhibit a creative attempt. From that perspective, creativity cannot be understood by isolating individuals and their works from their context, as "creativity does not happen inside people's heads, but in the interaction between a person's thoughts and a sociocultural context. It is a systematic rather than an individual phenomenon." (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996, p. 23)

Thus, the creation of an enhancing, harmonious and meaningful environment can contribute to the development of creative potential. In the educational setting, an environment that fosters creativity should include the following components: allowing time for creative thinking; rewarding creative ideas and products; encouraging sensible risks; allowing mistakes; imagining other viewpoints; exploring the environment; questioning assumptions (Sternberg & Williams, 1996); finding interests and problems; generating multiple hypotheses; focusing on broad ideas rather than specific facts; and thinking about the thinking processes (Starko, 1995).

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Teacher and Student Perceptions of Creativity in the Classroom Environment


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?