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Community participation in school management has great potentials for removing mistrust and distance between people and schools by nurturing transparency of information and a culture of mutual respect and by jointly pursuing improvement of school by sharing vision, process, and results. Individual and organizational behavioral changes are critical to increase the level of participation. In countries where the administrative structures are weak, the bottom-up approach to expanding educational opportunity and quality learning may be the only option.
Nevertheless, when community participation is implemented with a top-down manner without wider consultation on its aims, processes, and expected results, the consequences are likely to be conflicts between actors, a strong sense of overwhelming obligation, fatigue, inertia, and disparity in the degree and results of community participation between communities. Political aspects of school management and socio-cultural difference among the population require caution, as they are likely to induce partial participation or nonparticipation of the community at large. Community participation in school management will result in a long-term impact only if it involves a wide range of actors who can discuss and practice the possibilities of revisiting the definition of community and the way it should be.
Case study researchers have traditionally focused on micro-level analysis of a “bounded” case, yet this approach has come under methodological scrutiny in a world where phenomena are rarely isolated from globalization’s expansive reach. Social science and policy-oriented research in particular are nearly always subject to local and global histories as well as socio-cultural, political, and economic trends. Furthermore, the experience of individuals, organizations, and institutions are often tangled in interconnected webs of influence, such that a case study that does not trace these underlying relationships is likely to be analyzing only the tip of a phenomenological iceberg. Hence critical scholars call for the need to repurpose traditional case study research methods to embrace shifting contextual factors that surround a research project at multiple levels. Comparative case study methods answer this call by making socio-cultural and political analysis an explicit part of the research process. They expand the researcher’s methodological lens by advancing the analysis of processes across three axes: the horizontal (through distinct research sites), the vertical (through scales; e.g., local vs national) and the transversal (over time; e.g., historically). The methodology is particularly useful for social science research and policy studies, where complex interactions between actors and institutions are tied to socio-cultural, political, and economic contexts. Teacher education research is an area where comparative case studies can potentially contribute to policy formulation. Using the example of case study research on teacher education in India, the comparative case study methodology is shown to be an effective research tool. Through insights into the socio-cultural and political context surrounding pedagogical reform, case study research can generate corrective measures to improve policy effectiveness.
Lesley Bartlett and Frances Vavrus
Case studies in the field of education often eschew comparison. However, when scholars forego comparison, they are missing an important opportunity to bolster case studies’ theoretical generalizability. Scholars must examine how disparate epistemologies lead to distinct kinds of qualitative research and different notions of comparison. Expanded notions of comparison include not only the usual logic of contrast or juxtaposition but also a logic of tracing, in order to embrace approaches to comparison that are coherent with critical, constructivist, and interpretive qualitative traditions. Finally, comparative case study researchers consider three axes of comparison: the vertical, which pays attention across levels or scales, from the local through the regional, state, federal, and global; the horizontal, which examines how similar phenomena or policies unfold in distinct locations that are socially produced; and the transversal, which compares over time.
Lesley Bartlett and Frances Vavrus
Comparison is a valuable and widely touted analytical technique in social research, but different disciplines and fields have markedly different notions of comparison. There are at least two important logics for comparison. The first, the logic of juxtaposition, is guided by a neopositivist orientation. It uses a regularity theory of causation; it structures the study by defining cases, variables, and units of analysis a priori; and it decontextualizes knowledge. The second, the logic of tracing, engages a realist theory of causation and examines how processes unfold, influenced by actors and the meanings they make, over time, in different locations, and at different scales. These two logics of comparison lead to distinct methodological techniques. However, with either logic of comparison, three dangers merit attention: decontextualization, commensurability, and ethnocentrism. One promising research heuristic that attends to different logics of comparison while avoiding these dangers is the comparative case study (CCS) approach. CCS entails three axes of comparison. The horizontal axis encourages comparison of how similar policies and practices unfold across sites at roughly the same level or scale, for example across a set of schools or across home, school, religious institution, and community organization. The vertical axis urges comparison across micro-, meso-, and macro-levels or scales. For example, a study of bilingual education in the United States should attend not only to homes, communities, classroom, and school dynamics (the micro-level), but also to meso-level district, state, and federal policies, as well as to factors influencing international mobility at the macro-level. Finally, the transversal axis, which emphasizes change over time, urges scholars to situate historically the processes or relations under consideration.
Susan D. Martin, Vicki McQuitty, and Denise N. Morgan
Complexity theory offers possibilities for thinking about the challenges and opportunities inherent in teaching, teacher learning, and many other networked systems in teacher education. Complexity theory is a theory of learning systems that provides a framework for those interested in examining how systems develop and change. It is transdisciplinary in nature, drawing on insights from diverse fields across both the hard and social sciences, and when applied to education may provide a complex rather than simplistic view of teaching and learning. Further, complexity theory has the potential to offer a powerful alternative to linear and reductionist conceptualizations, with implications for methodology of teacher education research as well as its analysis and design. This small but growing body of work has influenced teacher education in two ways. First, scholars have argued for complexity theory’s usefulness as a framework to understand and describe how teacher education functions as a complex system. The second category of work, smaller than the first, uses complexity theory to frame and analyze empirical studies. Much of the emerging body of research conducted from a complexity theory perspective is descriptive and largely confirms what has been theorized. Empirical work has confirmed that a variety of systems, at different levels, influence teacher learning and pedagogical decisions. Gaps in our knowledge still exist, however, as theorists and researchers continue to struggle with how complexity theory can best serve teacher education for the benefit of teachers and students.
Fiona Ell, Marilyn Cochran-Smith, Mary Hill, Mavis Haigh, Lexie Grudnoff, and Larry Ludlow
Qualitative teacher education research is concerned with understanding the processes and outcomes of teacher preparation in ways that are useful for practitioners, policymakers, and the teaching profession. Complexity theory has its origin in the biological and physical sciences, where it applies to phenomena that are more than the sum of their parts—where the “higher order” form cannot be created by just putting together the pieces that it is made from. Complexity theory has moved to social science, and to education, because many social phenomena also seem to have this property. These phenomena are termed “complex systems.” Complexity theory is also a theory of learning and change, so it is concerned with how complex systems are learning and changing. This means that methods to investigate complex systems must be able to identify changes in the system, termed “emergence,” and must also account for change over time and the history of the complex system. Longitudinal designs that involve the collection of rich data from multiple sources can support understanding of how a complex system, such as teacher education, is learning and changing. Comparative analysis, narrative analysis, extended case studies, mapping of networks and interactions, and practitioner research studies have all been used to try to bring complexity theory to empirical work in teacher education. Adopting a complexity theory approach to research in teacher education is difficult because it calls into question many taken-for-granted assumptions about the nature of research and what is possible to find. Linear, process-product thinking cannot be sustained in a complexity framework, and ideas like “cause,” “outcome,” “change,” and “intervention” all have to be re-thought. A growing body of work uses complexity thinking to inform research in teacher education.
Maureen Robinson and Rada Jancic Mogliacci
Initial teacher education programs across the world bear many resemblances to one another in respect to their overall design features. Students generally follow courses that teach them foundational knowledge pertaining to education, like psychology or sociology, disciplinary knowledge in particular subject areas, and general and specific pedagogical knowledge. In addition, students are exposed to varying degrees of school placements. Despite these similarities in overall structure, the curriculum content and activities of teacher preparation may vary considerably, dependent on the underpinning conceptions of the goals and purposes of the program. Historical and geographical contexts also influence the choice of particular goals for teacher education.
Conceptions of teacher education can be clustered in a number of major approaches, each with its own subcategories. Although different terminologies may be used in the literature, the six major categories are as follows: a social justice approach, a master-apprentice approach, an applied science approach, a teacher identity approach, a competence approach, and a reflective approach. Each approach has certain key features and implications for curriculum design in teacher education, including vision, goals, content, teaching and learning methodologies, and the relationship between schools and colleges/universities. An example here is the difference between an applied science approach, based on the notion of teachers putting theories into practice, and a reflective practice approach, where teachers are encouraged to construct personal theories in and from practice. A second example of the different emphases is the extent to which education is located within its larger social context, with the relationship between school and society being more explicit within a social justice than a competence approach to teacher education. Conceptions may be implicit or explicit; in reality, most programs embody hybrid models with emphasis in particular directions.
The articulation of the key concepts, principles, and assumptions that underpin the design of teacher education programs contributes to the field in various ways. Promoting an understanding of different traditions of teacher education helps establish a shared vocabulary and knowledge base; this can improve the quality of teacher education through deepening academic debate and enhancing program coherence. In addition, strengthening the conceptual base of teacher education supports the professional autonomy of teacher educators, through advancing debate on the purposes, ethics, and politics of education and providing tools to discuss the curriculum implications of policy reform.
Tracy L. Cross and Jennifer Riedl Cross
Giftedness, the ability or potential to achieve at an exceptional (i.e., superior) level, is a social construction. The concept has undergone many shifts over the years, in response to societal values and trends. Educational researchers should know about the varied conceptions of giftedness, the definitions that have been used to identify students, and the implications of these for providing an appropriate and equitable education. The predominant conceptualization of giftedness has long been through an IQ-based model, initiated by the early work of Terman and Hollingworth, whose research focused on students who achieved the highest scores on standardized IQ tests. As more comprehensive models that include more relevant factors, in particular, intrapersonal and environment variables, have emerged, educational practice has been slow to respond. The problem of underrepresentation of students from diverse populations (e.g., African American, low-income, etc.) in gifted education services stems from the adoption of conceptions of giftedness that identify well-resourced and demographically advantaged students. Newer conceptions of giftedness acknowledge the developmental nature of giftedness. The talent development paradigm assumes that giftedness manifests as potential in young students and achievement in older students. Taking this approach requires schools to offer ample opportunity for exploration to students, who can show their potential and interest when exposed to various talent domains. Opportunities to practice and hone the skills of a domain are necessary for achievement to be expressed. One talent development model proposes that the objective of gifted education should be to produce eminence among those who participate. The challenge to schools is to create a versatile and effective conception of giftedness that can provide the services and opportunities that make it possible for all students to reach their potential, including those who can achieve at the highest level. The conception of giftedness that is adopted will determine how effectively they will meet this challenge.
Care theory emphasizes relation, attending to the expressed needs of the other in human encounters. It does not ignore virtue and justice, but its central concept is relation. In education, this means that the expressed needs of students must be considered—not always satisfied, but always included in the teacher’s deliberations. Choice, continuity, and connection are central concepts in the application of care theory to education. In consonance with its emphasis on attention to their expressed needs, care theory recommends listening to students and engaging in discussion to learn about their interests and help them to make intelligent choices. It also suggests that we give more attention to continuity—that is, to the possibility of keeping students and teachers together for more than one year. Similarly, continuity and connection may be increased by encouraging interdisciplinary studies. Finally, care theory emphasizes the need for critical thinking and civility—to educate, not fight, those who may be morally mistaken.
Individuals of all ages have misconceptions about phenomena of the natural and physical world. They may think, for example, that summer is hotter because the Earth is closer to the Sun, and it is colder in winter because the Earth is farther away from the Sun. This explanation is not compatible with the scientific explanation of the phenomenon. Scientific learning often implies the revision of naïve conceptions, or conceptual change, which is not a quick and easy process. Researchers have addressed the question of the nature of conceptual change in terms of what the acquisition of new science knowledge entails when students hold misconceptions and need to revise their mental representations. Various approaches have been proposed to account for the mechanisms that underlie conceptual change and to draw implications for teaching and learning processes.
For some decades conceptual change was only examined from a purely cognitive perspective (“cold” conceptual change), while more recently motivational and emotional aspects (“warm” conceptual change) have received attention. Research findings indicate that individual differences in misconceived prior knowledge, along with differences in achievement goals, self-efficacy, interest, and epistemic beliefs, as well as differences in the emotions experienced in learning contexts, are all associated with conceptual change. More recently, research has challenged the idea that misconceptions disappear permanently after conceptual change has taken place. Previously acquired, incorrect information still competes with the newly acquired correct information. The executive function of inhibition seems to be involved when naïve and scientific conceptions co-exist in the learner’s memory and the latter is used to produce a correct answer. Further research is needed on the role of inhibitory control in relation to learning concepts and affective states during scientific learning.
Issues related to the aim of education, curriculum, teaching, and learning are perennial concerns in Confucianism. Within the Confucian canon, two texts, Analects (Lunyu) and Xueji (Record of Learning), are particularly instructive in illuminating the principles and practices of education for early Confucianism. Accordingly, the aim of education is to inculcate ren (humanity) through li (normative behaviors) so that learners can realize and broaden dao (Way). To achieve this aim, the curriculum should be holistic, broad-based, and integrated; students should constantly practice what they have learned through self-cultivation and social interaction. Supporting the curriculum is learner-focused education, where the teacher is sensitive to the individual needs of students. The “enlightening approach” is recommended, where the teacher encourages and guides students using the questioning technique and peer learning. The impact of Confucian education is evident in the creation and flourishing of “Confucian pedagogic cultures” in East Asia. However, a key question confronting a Confucian conception of education is whether such a paradigm is able to nurture critical and creative thinkers who are empowered to critique prevailing worldviews and effect social changes. A textual analysis of Xueji and Analects reveals that critical and creative thinking are valued and indispensable in Confucian education. Confucius himself chastised the rulers of his time, modified certain social practices, and ingeniously redefined terms that were in wide circulation such as li and junzi by adding novel elements to them. Confucian education should be viewed as an open tradition that learns from all sources and evolves with changing times. Such a tradition fulfills the educational vision to appropriate and extend dao, thereby continuing the educational project started by Confucius.
Yongjian Li and Fred Dervin
The theme of social justice appears to be central in education research. A polysemic and sometimes empty notion, social justice can be defined, constructed, and used in different ways, which makes it a problematic notion to work with intra- and interculturally. Global education research has often relied on constructions of the notion as they have been “done” in the West, leaving very little space to constructions from peripheries. This problematic and somewhat biased approach often leads to research that ignores local contexts and local ways of “discoursing” about social justice. Although some countries are said to be better at social justice in education (e.g., top performers in the OECD PISA studies), there is a need to examine critically and reflexively how it is “done” in different contexts (“winners” and “losers” of international rankings) on macro- and micro-levels. Two different educational utopias, China and Finland, are used to illustrate the different constructions of social justice, and more specifically marginalization and belonging in relation to migrant students—an omnipresent figure in world education—in the two countries. A call for learning with each other about social justice, and questioning too easily accepted definitions and/or formulas, is made.
Mohammad Noman and David Gurr
Context, culture, and leadership are features of educational organizations, yet the relationship between the three is poorly understood. Often leadership theories are propagated as though they will be applicable in all situations, yet research on successful school leaders has found that leadership is highly contextual in nature and that the success of educational leaders depends upon how leaders adapt their practices according to contextual factors. Contextual leadership transcends the rigid, and at times overlapping boundaries of existing educational leadership theories and models and brings the context to the center stage of the practices of educational leaders. Culture can be considered as one of the context factors, but it is a complicated factor with many dimensions. Successful educational leaders are the ones who master the art of creating a balance between multiple cultural contexts acting upon their institutions and, through their contextual practices, learn the art of successfully leading their institutions by creating an inclusive, multicultural environment. Successful school leaders are those who are culturally sensitive, but not context constrained.
In the context of educational leadership, the application of contingency and situational theory underlines the importance of analyzing the current situation and the variables that affect the organization’s framework so that a manager can be effective. Whichever education system we are referring to, it is virtually meaningless to study leadership styles without recognizing the significance of the school context. School is a complex organization, an open system which appears to be a very uncertain environment. In order for leadership to be effective in this uncertain environment, the leaders should adopt a holistic approach. Many leaders avoid high uncertainty by applying standard operating procedures and making traditional bureaucratic responses in every case. Contingency and situational theory could give school leaders the opportunity for a solid basis in further refining management policies and practices.
Contingency theory is based on the assumption that no single leadership style is appropriate in all situations. According to this theory, leadership style is quite inflexible. Thus, organizational effectiveness depends on matching internal organizational characteristics with environmental conditions. Therefore, effective leadership depends on whether the leader’s style matches the needs of the individual case. This theory applies better to educational systems where principal selection is done through an open recruitment process. One useful tool of this theory is contingency planning or forecasting. On the other hand, situational theory dictates that leaders adapt their style to match their staff’s characteristics and requirements. In education systems where the recruitment and selection of school principals lies with central government, situational theory can be a useful tool for the principals. When principals are placed in a new school, they should choose the best course of action based upon the current circumstances. Flexibility is key in managing a team effectively. The main difference between the two theories is that in the first case we put the right person in the right job while in the second leaders adjust their style depending on school context.
Fred A.J. Korthagen and Ellen E. Nuijten
The core reflection approach aims to deepen teacher reflection and development. The approach takes teachers’ core qualities and ideals as the starting point for reflection, and links the professional and the personal in teacher development. Core reflection can also be applied to other professional groups, and to students in primary and secondary education. It is based on a model of levels of reflection, briefly named the onion model, which includes the following levels: environment, behavior, competencies, beliefs, identity, mission, and “the core,” which refers to personal strengths. The onion model helps to differentiate between behavior-oriented reflection and a deeper kind of reflection, in which attention is given to three goals: (1) building on strengths and ideals (called “the inner potential”) of the person, (2) helping the person deal with inner obstacles limiting the actualization of the inner potential, and (3) preparing the person for using their potential and dealing with obstacles autonomously. In order to reach these goals, people can be coached using specific principles, which are partly based on positive psychology:
1. Focusing on personal strengths;
2. Giving balanced attention to cognition, emotion, and motivation (thinking, feeling, and wanting); and
3. Giving attention to inner obstacles.
These principles are brought together in a phase model for core reflection, with five phases: (1) describing a concrete situation; (2) reflection on the ideal, and on a core quality or qualities; (3) reflection on an obstacle; (4) using the inner potential; and (5) trying a new approach.
Core reflection is being used around the world, both in teacher education programs and in schools. Several research studies into the processes and outcomes of core reflection have shown that it leads to in-depth professional development and improved behavior, in both the short and the long term. However, more research is needed, for example research in which long-term outcomes of the core reflection approach are compared to those of other approaches.
Amy Stornaiuolo and T. Philip Nichols
In the opening decades of the 21st century, educators have turned toward cosmopolitanism to theorize teaching and learning in light of increasingly globalized relationships and responsibilities. While subject to extensive debates in disciplines like political science, philosophy, anthropology, and sociology, cosmopolitanism in education has primarily been explored as a moral framework resonant with educators’ efforts to cultivate people’s openness to new ideas, mutual understanding through respectful dialogue, and awareness of relationships to distant and unknown others. Scholars have recently called for more critical cosmopolitan approaches to education, in which the framing of cosmopolitanism as a neutral, essentializing form of global togetherness is subject to critique and includes analysis of systems of power, privilege, and oppression. However, while scholarly efforts to articulate critical cosmopolitanisms (in the plural) are still in nascent form in terms of educational practice, recent work in other disciplines offer promise for forwarding such a critical agenda. In sociology, for example, a focus on cosmopolitics foregrounds the labor of creating a shared world through ongoing, often conflictual negotiations that take into account the historical and contemporary political exigencies that shape that process. A framework of cosmopolitics for educators, particularly as a counterpoint to liberal understandings of cosmopolitanism as a form of ethical universalism, will be explored. Such a critical approach to educational cosmopolitanism not only foregrounds the local, everyday actions needed to build connections with others and create common worlds—but also acknowledges the historical and sociomaterial conditions under which such actions take place. A cosmopolitical approach to educational practice thus recognizes multiplicity and contingency—the mobility that locates people and ideas in new relations can just as easily lead to prejudice and bias as tolerance and solidarity—but does so in an effort to understand how social, political, and economic structures produce inequality, both in the present moment and as legacies from the past.
In its most popular sense, cosmopolitanism is taken to be a way of life and a kind of selfhood. The cosmopolitan self learns from other cultures, embraces diversity, and considers her selfhood or lifestyle defined more by routes than by roots. Thus understood cosmopolitanism becomes a descriptive concept, that is, it says something about how the person lives and acts and about what the person is like. When this cosmopolitan existence is elevated to a political ideal or virtue, it strikes a normative note. For example, to say that a society or an individual is cosmopolitan is to attribute something good to such a society or individual, that is, to see in them a commendable feature or to summon them to acquire it. Philosophy has, from antiquity to the present, formulated, debated, contested, revisited, and negotiated the descriptive and normative aspects of cosmopolitan existence and citizenship. It has thus provided rich and diverse descriptions and prescriptions of cosmopolitanism. Political philosophy, in particular, investigates the relationship of cosmopolitanism with kindred or alternative descriptions and prescriptions of how we exist or should exist in the world.
In line with philosophy, the philosophy of education also considers what counts as cosmopolitan. Often transferring philosophical insights directly to educational frameworks, educational philosophy discusses whether cosmopolitanism (and which version of it) may be a desirable pedagogical aim. Questions such as “who embodies the cosmopolitan,” “what matters as cosmopolitan practice,” or “how to cultivate the cosmopolitan subject and the corresponding citizenship” are indicative of educational-philosophical concerns. At a deeper level, educational philosophy addresses challenges to identity, contestations of Western values, and contemporary, global changes that affect educational appreciations of cosmopolitanism. And it examines how critical approaches to cosmopolitanism and to related notions may shed new light on educational cosmopolitan sensibilities and reveal ambiguities in cosmopolitan political and pedagogical operations.
Diane Myers, Brandi Simonsen, and George Sugai
Actively engaging learners in the classroom has been associated with increases in learners’ academic and behavioral performance. Multiple empirically supported strategies exist for actively engaging learners, including increasing opportunities for learners to respond and planning highly engaging lessons. In support of these engagement strategies, educators also systematically implement empirically supported classroom management strategies to increase the likelihood of appropriate behaviors and decrease the likelihood of inappropriate behaviors. These classroom management strategies include: (a) maximizing structure, which includes both the physical (e.g., desk arrangement) and embedded (e.g., classroom routines) aspects of structure; (b) establishing, operationally defining, teaching, prompting, and monitoring students’ expected classroom behaviors; (c) developing a continuum of acknowledgment strategies to reinforce (i.e., increase the future likelihood of) those expected behaviors; and (d) establishing a continuum of responses for behaviors that do not meet expectations. In addition, educators collect relevant data to evaluate if learners are engaged and meeting academic and behavioral expectations. Finally, to create a classroom environment conducive to engaging all learners, academic and behavioral instruction and support must be: (a) contextually and culturally relevant for learners, and (b) differentiated to meet the diverse learning and behavioral needs within the classroom.
If educators explicitly and routinely implement empirically supported academic and behavioral instruction and support for all learners, the majority of learners will engage in instruction and demonstrate behaviors that meet expectations, reducing the number of learners who require additional levels of support. Meanwhile, effective educators review academic and behavioral data to determine if learners require more intensive support at a group or individual learner level.
Teresa Cremin and Debra Myhill
In the field of writing in education two strong, even common-sense, views exist, drawing largely on everyday logic rather than evidenced justification: first, that to teach writing effectively teachers must be writers themselves and second, that professional writers, those who are writers themselves, have a valuable role to play in supporting young writers. But rarely have these views been brought together to explore what teachers can learn about being a writer from those who are writers. Nor are these perspectives unquestioned. The positioning of teachers as writers within and beyond the classroom has been the subject of intense academic and practitioner debate for decades. For years professional writers have visited schools to talk about their work and have run workshops and led residencies. However relatively few peer-reviewed studies exist into the value of their engagement in education, and those that do, in a manner similar to the studies examining teachers as writers, tend to rely upon self-reports without observational evidence to triangulate the perspectives offered. Furthermore, the evidence base with regard to the impact on student outcomes of teachers’ positioning themselves as writers in the classroom is scant. Nor is there a body of evidence documenting the impact of professional writers on student outcomes.Historically, these two foci - teachers as writers and professional writers in education - have been researched separately; in this article we draw them together.
Predominantly professional writers in education work directly with students as visiting artists, and have been positioned and positioned themselves as offering enrichment opportunities to students. They have not therefore been able to make a sustained impact on the teaching of writing. Moreover, while writers’ published texts are read, studied, and analyzed in school (as examples for young people to emulate), their compositional processes receive little attention, and the craft knowledge on which writers draw is rarely foregrounded. In addition, writing is often viewed as the most marginalized creative art, in part due to its inclusion within English, which itself has been sidelined in the arts debate.
Notwithstanding these challenges, research and development studies have begun to create new opportunities for collaboration, with teachers and professional writers sharing their expertise as pedagogues and as writers in order to support students’ development as creative writers. In such work the challenges, constraints, and consequences of students and teachers identifying themselves as writers in school has been evidenced. In addition, research has sought to document the practices of professional writers, analyzing for example their reading histories, composing practices, and craft knowledge in order to feedforward new insights into classroom practice. It is thus gradually becoming recognized that professional writers’ knowledge and understanding of the art and craft of writing deserves increased practitioner attention for their educative possibilities; they have the potential to support teachers’ understanding of being a writer and of how they teach writing. This in turn may impact upon students’ own identities as writers, their understanding of what it means to be a writer, and their attitudes to and outcomes in writing.
Dimitrios Zbainos and Todd Lubart
Creativity refers to the ability to produce original work that is meaningful and valuable within its context. Paul J. Guilford, at the American Psychological Association conference in 1950, devoted his presidential address to creativity and stressed its importance for future generations. Guilford conceptualized creativity as a factor within a general theory of intelligence, and in this regard, creativity was an individual ability involving divergent thinking that could be developed through interaction between individuals and their environments. Since then, creative thinking processes have been extensively studied, the initial conceptions have been modified, and new perspectives are being provided; for instance, neuroscientists are examining creative thinking processes using different methods and tools than those used in traditional cognitive psychology.
Nevertheless, great creations have not always been the products of one person. On the contrary, many great creative achievements have involved the collaboration of several people, not as the sum of individual creativities but as the product of the whole group. Furthermore, both individual and group creativity, as any other psychological construct, cannot be studied isolated from the context within which it occurs. Even Guilford’s emphasis on creativity was the product of the sociopolitical and cultural conditions of the time (the Cold War, post–World War II intellectual malaise, and the dawning of the space race). Creative processes and acts are not solely an expression of individual abilities; they are also social, embodied, and temporal and should be studied as such.
In recent decades the world is characterized by rapid change; the economic and the sociocultural conditions in a globalized economy have led creativity to be a highly socially valued ability. People consume creative products at a higher rate than any other time in history, including artistic creations such as films, music, fine arts, or countless technological innovations, which in turn raises the demand for more creative productions.
Education has an important role to play to prepare students for a creativity-thirsty society. In Vygoskian terms it mediates the elements that help children to master their environments. Modern curricula stress the need for the development of students’ creativity so that they are equipped with the necessary skills for the society of tomorrow.
It is possible to consider the different facets of creativity through a 7 Cs approach. These Cs provide a framework for examining creativity in terms of creators (creative people), creating (the act of producing new work), collaborations (interactions with close others during creation), context (the physical and social environment), creation (the new production and its characteristics), consumption (the uptake and adoption of creative work), and curricula (teaching and developing creativity through education). Research on creativity, across the 7 Cs, provides numerous avenues for the educational development of creativity.