Adolescents’ perceptions of how creativity is fostered by teachers in the curriculum

  • Eanna O'Boyle

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)


There are repeated calls and efforts to promote creativity more in schools. In this regard, the key role of teachers in developing creative learning environments has become well recognised. In discussions about how teachers can do this, creativity researchers have occasionally consulted young children for their perceptions of how creativity can be encouraged but have rarely consulted adolescents. This study aims to add adolescents’ views and experiences to the agenda of how we can foster their creativity in schools.Using Straussian grounded theory, I adopted a case study approach to understand adolescents’ perceptions of how creativity was fostered by teachers in the curriculum. The research is set in a highly-regarded international school in central Europe. I consulted 14 to 16-year-old adolescents studying in the final two years of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme (MYP). I also consulted their teachers on themes that the adolescents found relevant. The purpose of the study is encapsulated by the three research questions ‘how do adolescents define creativity?’, ‘how do adolescents perceive creativity being encouraged by teachers?’ and ‘between adolescents, teachers and researchers, how aligned are beliefs about fostering creativity in the classroom?’.Participants shared their perceptions through online questionnaires, focus groups, online discussion forums, individual and paired interviews, and emails. Through ongoing data collection and analysis, four main categories of creativity-fostering teaching practices emerged. These were disciplinary relevance (D), student empowerment (E), personal and social relevance (R), and creative metacognition (M), all interrelated through the core category ‘shaping boundaries’. This categorisation led directly to the development of what I called the ‘DERM model’ that aims to provide teachers with guidance for fostering creativity in the classroom. This model reflects the beliefs of adolescents which shared many similarities with those of teachers and creativity researchers.
Date of Award24 May 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorMary Hayden (Supervisor) & Susan Martin (Supervisor)


  • creativity
  • adolescent
  • student
  • perceptions
  • international school
  • International Baccalaureate
  • Middle Years Programme
  • MYP
  • school
  • curriculum
  • DERM
  • fostering
  • pedagogy

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