Reframing Creativity as the Biography of an Idea: Developing Learning Narratives that Describe Creativity as a Distributed and Participatory Process

Thesis Type:

Ed.D. Dissertation


Fostering creativity through education has long been a priority. Despite this imperative, many educators and policymakers retain traditional, individual-based understandings of creativity that are both out of synch with contemporary systems-based creativity theory and incongruous with the increasing emphasis on group invention and geographically distributed teams seen in business, education, and government. Through this qualitative investigation of group-generated ideas at the Boston ArtScience Prize—an afterschool program committed to the development of creative ideas at the cutting edge of the arts and science—this study establishes an empirically grounded theoretical framework that provides multiple pathways to creative participation for a wide variety of learners within an array of content areas. The study examines three core questions: (1) What are the observable ways individuals participate in and contribute to the ongoing development of group-generated creative ideas? (2) What types of individual and group learning take place during the development of group-generated creative ideas? (3) How does what individuals and groups learn throughout the process of developing group-generated creative ideas inform and influence the evolution of the ideas being developed? By chronicling the unfolding histories—or “biographies”—of creative ideas, I track the evolutionary arcs of “Reverse Outlet” and “Static Fashion” two group-generated ideas. The histories of these ideas serve as learning narratives that describe the various ways in which individuals participate in the development of creative ideas—and the learning that accrues to those individuals along the way.

Last updated on 07/10/2014