Perceiving and pursuing novelty : a grounded theory of adolescent creativity

Lassig, Carly Jade (2012) Perceiving and pursuing novelty : a grounded theory of adolescent creativity. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Creativity plays an increasingly important role in our personal, social, educational, and community lives. For adolescents, creativity can enable self-expression, be a means of pushing boundaries, and assist learning, achievement, and completion of everyday tasks. Moreover, adolescents who demonstrate creativity can potentially enhance their capacity to face unknown future challenges, address mounting social and ecological issues in our global society, and improve their career opportunities and contribution to the economy. For these reasons, creativity is an essential capacity for young people in their present and future, and is highlighted as a priority in current educational policy nationally and internationally. Despite growing recognition of creativity’s importance and attention to creativity in research, the creative experience from the perspectives of the creators themselves and the creativity of adolescents are neglected fields of study. Hence, this research investigated adolescents’ self-reported experiences of creativity to improve understandings of their creative processes and manifestations, and how these can be supported or inhibited. Although some aspects of creativity have been extensively researched, there were no comprehensive, multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks of adolescent creativity to provide a foundation for this study. Therefore, a grounded theory methodology was adopted for the purpose of constructing a new theory to describe and explain adolescents’ creativity in a range of domains. The study’s constructivist-interpretivist perspective viewed the data and findings as interpretations of adolescents’ creative experiences, co-constructed by the participants and the researcher. The research was conducted in two academically selective high schools in Australia: one arts school, and one science, mathematics, and technology school. Twenty adolescent participants (10 from each school) were selected using theoretical sampling. Data were collected via focus groups, individual interviews, an online discussion forum, and email communications. Grounded theory methods informed a process of concurrent data collection and analysis; each iteration of analysis informed subsequent data collection. Findings portray creativity as it was perceived and experienced by participants, presented in a Grounded Theory of Adolescent Creativity. The Grounded Theory of Adolescent Creativity comprises a core category, Perceiving and Pursuing Novelty: Not the Norm, which linked all findings in the study. This core category explains how creativity involved adolescents perceiving stimuli and experiences differently, approaching tasks or life unconventionally, and pursuing novel ideas to create outcomes that are not the norm when compared with outcomes by peers. Elaboration of the core category is provided by the major categories of findings. That is, adolescent creativity entailed utilising a network of Sub-Processes of Creativity, using strategies for Managing Constraints and Challenges, and drawing on different Approaches to Creativity – adaptation, transfer, synthesis, and genesis – to apply the sub-processes and produce creative outcomes. Potentially, there were Effects of Creativity on Creators and Audiences, depending on the adolescent and the task. Three Types of Creativity were identified as the manifestations of the creative process: creative personal expression, creative boundary pushing, and creative task achievement. Interactions among adolescents’ dispositions and environments were influential in their creativity. Patterns and variations of these interactions revealed a framework of four Contexts for Creativity that offered different levels of support for creativity: high creative disposition–supportive environment; high creative disposition–inhibiting environment; low creative disposition–supportive environment; and low creative disposition–inhibiting environment. These contexts represent dimensional ranges of how dispositions and environments supported or inhibited creativity, and reveal that the optimal context for creativity differed depending on the adolescent, task, domain, and environment. This study makes four main contributions, which have methodological and theoretical implications for researchers, as well as practical implications for adolescents, parents, teachers, policy and curriculum developers, and other interested stakeholders who aim to foster the creativity of adolescents. First, this study contributes methodologically through its constructivist-interpretivist grounded theory methodology combining the grounded theory approaches of Corbin and Strauss (2008) and Charmaz (2006). Innovative data collection was also demonstrated through integration of data from online and face-to-face interactions with adolescents, within the grounded theory design. These methodological contributions have broad applicability to researchers examining complex constructs and processes, and with populations who integrate multimedia as a natural form of communication. Second, applicable to creativity in diverse domains, the Grounded Theory of Adolescent Creativity supports a hybrid view of creativity as both domain-general and domain-specific. A third major contribution was identification of a new form of creativity, educational creativity (ed-c), which categorises creativity for learning or achievement within the constraints of formal educational contexts. These theoretical contributions inform further research about creativity in different domains or multidisciplinary areas, and with populations engaged in formal education. However, the key contribution of this research is that it presents an original Theory and Model of Adolescent Creativity to explain the complex, multifaceted phenomenon of adolescents’ creative experiences.

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ID Code: 50661
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Watters, James & Diezmann, Carmel
Keywords: adolescents, arts, constructivist, creative self-efficacy, creativity, curriculum, education, educational policy, gifted and talented, grounded theory, international Baccalaureate, mathematics, motivation, science, selective school, students, technology
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 29 May 2012 04:42
Last Modified: 10 Sep 2015 02:25

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