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Improvisation Facilitates Divergent Thinking and Creativity: Realizing a Benefit of Primary School Arts Education

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Abstract

The benefit of arts education for cultural engagement, wider academic achievement, and as a contributor to the creative economy is a subject of significant debate. In the present work, we focus on the potential for simple, arts-based improvisation activities to enhance divergent thinking skills and creativity in primary school-age children. In the first experiment, we compare the effect of children taking part in an improvised versus nonimprovised dance class on their subsequent performance on the Instances Task (Wallach&Kogan, 1965) and on a creative "toy" design task. In a second experiment, children took part in verbal and acting improvisation games or in matched control games before completing figural activity 1 of the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT; Torrance, 1974). In both experiments, we found that children who took part in the improvisation interventions showed better divergent thinking and creativity after the intervention. Our findings suggest that simple, arts-based improvisation interventions could have domain-general benefits for creative cognition processes. Furthermore, they indicate one way in which simply making better use of existing arts education provision could provide a cost-effective way to increase creativity-relevant skills in primary schoolchildren. We consider putative mechanisms for the improvisation effects and specify directions for future work.
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... Twelve studies provided information on the structure of their lessons/sessions, either stated explicitly in the text or elicited from the narrative (Giguere, 2006, 2011, Jansen et al., 2013Jansen & Richter, 2015;Jusslin & Höglund, 2020;Lai Keun & Hunt, 2006;Leandro et al., 2018;Neville & Makopoulou, 2020;Rud et al., 2021;Sowden et al., 2015;Steinberg & Steinberg, 2016;Yuliasma, 2017). Specifically, two studies conducted their research during one session (Sowden et al., 2015;Giguere, 2011) and one study had two sessions of implementation (Jansen et al., 2013). ...
... Twelve studies provided information on the structure of their lessons/sessions, either stated explicitly in the text or elicited from the narrative (Giguere, 2006, 2011, Jansen et al., 2013Jansen & Richter, 2015;Jusslin & Höglund, 2020;Lai Keun & Hunt, 2006;Leandro et al., 2018;Neville & Makopoulou, 2020;Rud et al., 2021;Sowden et al., 2015;Steinberg & Steinberg, 2016;Yuliasma, 2017). Specifically, two studies conducted their research during one session (Sowden et al., 2015;Giguere, 2011) and one study had two sessions of implementation (Jansen et al., 2013). The majority of the studies (seven) had either three or four sections (Giguere, 2006, Jansen & Richter, 2015Jusslin & Höglund, 2020;Lai Keun & Hunt, 2006;Neville & Makopoulou, 2020;Rud et al., 2021;Steinberg & Steinberg, 2016), however there were cases that five or more sections implemented in one lesson (Leandro et al., 2018;Yuliasma, 2017). ...
... Children involved in CreaDa activities seemed to exhibit Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTs), like divergent, original, creative or critical thinking, as well as problem finding/solving and metacognitive skills (Chen, 2001;Chen & Cone, 2003;Lai Keun & Hunt, 2006). Two quantitative research (QNR) studies showed that even a short CreaDa intervention can substantially benefit children's HOTs, specifically creativity and originality in the dance related specific spatial modality (Sowden et al., 2015) and in other domains not so traditionally associated with dance, like in language (Sowden et al., 2015) and in drawing (Neville & Makopoulou, 2020). These studies provide significant evidence on the transferable intellectual benefits of CreaDa from one domain to another. ...
Chapter
Η κινητική δημιουργικότητα είναι ένας όρος που εμφανίζεται περίπου στα μέσα του 20ου αιώνα και αφορά στην έκφραση του δημιουργικού δυναμικού κάθε ατόμου μέσω των σωματικών του κινήσεων. Μία από τις πρώτες αναφορές της δημιουργικότητας στην κίνηση είναι αυτή του Laban (1948) και κάνει αισθητή της παρουσία της μέσα στη θεωρία του για την ανάλυση της κίνησης (Labanotation). Λίγο αργότερα εμφανίζονται στο προσκήνιο κάποιες δοκιμασίες/τεστ που προσπαθούν να καταγράψουν και να αξιολογήσουν την κινητική δημιουργικότητα των ατόμων, όπως για παράδειγμα οι χορευτές (Withers, 1960). Οι Méndez–Martínez και Fernández–Río (2019) αναφέρουν 11 αντιπροσωπευτικά τεστ της κινητικής δημιουργικότητας, που το καθένα χρησιμοποιεί παρόμοια ή και διαφορετικά κριτήρια για την αξιολόγησή της. Τα πιο κοινά κριτήρια είναι αυτά της ευχέρειας, της ευελιξίας και της πρωτοτυπίας, ενώ κάποια άλλα τεστ περιέχουν τα κριτήρια της φαντασίας, της απόκλισης, της επεξεργασίας, κ.ά. Δύο από τα πιο γνωστά τεστ κινητικής δημιουργικότητας είναι αυτά του Torrance (1981) και των Cleland και Gallahue (1993) που χρησιμοποιήθηκαν μετά την εμφάνισή τους κυρίως στην προσχολική και πρωτοβάθμια εκπαίδευση. Η προσωπική σύνθετη αναζήτηση της ερευνητικής βιβλιογραφίας, κυρίως στην αγγλική γλώσσα με συγκεκριμένα κριτήρια και όρους σχετικούς με την εφαρμογή προγραμμάτων κινητικής δημιουργικότητας στην τυπική, βασική εκπαίδευση μέσα σε γνωστές βάσεις δεδομένων (ProQuest, EBSCO, PubMed Central, Cochrane Library, OVID, JSTOR, SCOPUS) και άλλων ηλεκτρονικών εκδοτικών οίκων (Science Direct, Springer, SAGE, Taylor & Francis, Oxford, Emerald, Wiley, IEEE Xplore Digital Library, Cambridge University Press), ανέδειξε έως σήμερα ένα σύνολο περίπου 30 ερευνών. Η αναζήτηση απλώνεται στον παγκόσμιο χάρτη, με εφαρμογές στην Αμερική, στο Ηνωμένο Βασίλειο, στην Πορτογαλία, στην Γερμανία, στην Σλοβενία, στην Ελλάδα, στην Νότια Κορέα, στην Ταϊβάν, στην Σιγκαπούρη και στην Ινδονησία. Καθεμιά από τις συγκεκριμένες έρευνες εφάρμοσε ένα πρόγραμμα δημιουργικού χορού ή/και κίνησης, αποκλειστικά ή διαθεματικά (π.χ. με συνδιδασκαλία άλλου γνωστικού αντικειμένου) κατά τη διάρκεια ενός ή περισσότερων διδακτικών μονάδων στη Φυσική Αγωγή. Σκοπός των συγκεκριμένων προγραμμάτων ήταν να διαπιστωθεί η επίδρασή τους σε ένα ή και παραπάνω τομείς της προσωπικότητας των παιδιών, δηλαδή, σε κάποια ή κάποιες συμπεριφορικές, λειτουργικές ή μαθησιακές παραμέτρους. Το σώμα αυτών των ερευνών, παρόλη την ποικιλομορφία αλλά και τους όποιους περιορισμούς της σε μεθοδολογικό και ερευνητικό επίπεδο, αντανακλά ένα πλήθος θετικών οφελών και επιδράσεων σε όλες τις διαστάσεις της προσωπικότητας των παιδιών. Το παρόν κεφάλαιο παραθέτει τα πιο σημαντικά ευρήματα αυτών των ερευνών προσπαθώντας παράλληλα να τα ταξινομήσει ανάλογα με τα οφέλη που προκύπτουν σε κάθε διάσταση της προσωπικότητας του παιδιού. Η ενίσχυση ανώτερων δεξιοτήτων και διαδικασιών σκέψης, η ενεργοποίηση στρατηγικών σκέψης, η βελτίωση των ακαδημαϊκών επιδόσεων αλλά και των επιτελικών λειτουργιών είναι κάποια από τα οφέλη που έχουν διαπιστωθεί από αυτές τις έρευνες στον νοητικό τομέα των παιδιών. Επίσης, ο κοινωνικός αλλά και ο ψυχοσυναισθηματικός τομέας φαίνεται να ωφελούνται ιδιαίτερα από προγράμματα δημιουργικού χορού και κίνησης. Επιπρόσθετα, τα per se οφέλη, δηλαδή αυτά στην κινητική δημιουργικότητα, δεν θα μπορούσαν παρά να διαπιστωθούν από τέτοιου είδους εκπαιδευτικά προγράμματα. Φαίνεται όμως πως υπάρχει θετικός αντίκτυπος και στην ανάπτυξη των κινητικών δεξιοτήτων και σε κάποιες φυσιολογικές παραμέτρους των παιδιών κατά την εμπλοκή τους στα προγράμματα αυτά. Τέλος, το κεφάλαιο κλείνει με την σύνοψή κάποιων σημαντικών συμπερασμάτων, αλλά και προβληματισμών επάνω στη διδασκαλία της κινητικής δημιουργικότητας στο σχολείο και παρέχει κάποιες σημαντικές προτάσεις για την πρακτική εφαρμογή της που προκύπτουν μέσα από την ερευνητική βιβλιογραφία αλλά και την πολυετή εμπειρία της συγγραφέως με το συγκεκριμένο αντικείμενο.
... Higher scores in fluency, originality and flexibility were also observed following an intervention which involved verbal improvisation. Sowden et al. (2015) conducted experiments to assess creative performance using both the Instances Task (Wallach & Kogan, 1965) and the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (Torrance, 1974) to assess DT. Their findings indicate that school-age children who took part in an intervention involving artistic improvisation performed better at DT. Concurrently, Hui et al. (2015) assessed both students' creativity and teachers' application of art education after a program involving a collaboration with artists-teachers who practiced different forms of art. ...
... Moreover, they support claims that creativity, widely regarded as a crucial skill (Institute for the Future, 2011; Partnership for 21 st Century Learning, 2015; World Economic Forum, 2020), may actually be enhanced (or at worst preserved) through educational programs, including arts education and arts-based projects such as Kreattiv. These findings echo those of others in the field (Craft, 2011;Felsman et al., 2020;Fleith et al., 2002;Hui et al., 2015;Lewis & Lovatt, 2013;Sowden et al., 2015). ...
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As programs aimed at fostering creativity in educational settings become more widespread, assessing their impact becomes increasingly important. This article responds to calls for evidence-based policy in this field by assessing the impact on creativity of a government-funded arts-based educational program in Malta (European Union). A quasi-experimental design was adopted and data was collected pre- and post-intervention from a test group and a control group of students across nine secondary schools (n = 400 pre-intervention and n = 259 post-intervention). Students undertook a total of four Divergent Thinking tests, which culminated in indices comprising ideational fluency, flexibility, originality, novelty, relevance, and elaboration. Ordinary Least Squares models of creativity were estimated revealing a strong positive association between creativity scores and participation in the program. Difference-in-Differences analyzes with matched pre- and post-intervention responses (n = 380), further confirmed that participation in the program positively impacts creativity scores, particularly among students who did not self-select into the project and who had low prior exposure to creative experiences. We also observe an overall decline in creativity between the start and end of the scholastic year. These results suggest that arts-based programs can be effective in enhancing (at worst, preserving) students’ creativity.
... Research in artistic educational programs has shown that art has a potential to enhance creativity (Burton et al., 1999), i.e., students with high exposure to dance, music, drama and art outperform those with less exposure to arts-related activities on different creativity tasks (Burton et al., 1999). Elementary students who participated in a range of arts-based improvisational activities such as making music, acting, and dancing increased their skills in divergent thinking among compared to those who participated in nonimprovised movement classes (Sowden et al., 2015). Moreover, individuals with high openness to experience (measured actively seek and appreciate experiences for their own sake), are imaginative and sensitive to art and beauty, and have rich and complex emotional lives (Costa & McCrae, 1992). ...
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There are few studies on how to use art to prepare students, through higher education, to lead a sustainable and healthy working life. In order to enhance and develop the learning environments regarding creativity and health in higher academic education curricula, more studies are needed. Studies link- ing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from the agenda 2030 into higher education practice are also few. The aim of this study is to gather information from creative music students to be able to build an educational platform for “arts & health” that facilitates a sustainable future working life for students. The results from two focus group interviews were used to develop an interview guide for five following in-depth individual in- terviews. The analytical lens that was used to conduct the interviews was based on a phenomenological hermeneutic method. The complete interpretation of the study is: “Educating meaning instead of perfection—Building a Health-Arts-Sustainability (HeArtS) platform”. According to our results, meaning is not created by doing things that you are good at. The students want a curriculum where the focus is on challenges; skills that you are not good at and therefore need stimulating. The students want more collective self-aware- ness and body awareness training and sharing in their curricula. The results strongly imply that art-based curricula or the art intervention programs increasingly practiced in academia can be effective for enhancing workplace creativity and sustainable health in working life. Therefore, we suggest that higher educational programs should employ more art-related creativity training programs in the future.
... Researchers have made explicit connections between ACD pedagogies and creativity -the emphasis on students' self-expression 182 , exposure to contemporary art 183 , the practice of encouraging divergent thinking through improvisation 184 , the role of adults in supporting children to be creative 185 and the use of iPads allied to platforms for digital content creation. 186 Hetland and Winner have categorised particular forms of ACD pedagogy associated with creativity as "studio thinking/habits of mind" 187 which features eight 'dispositions' 188 -develop craft, engage and persist, envision, express, observe, reflect, stretch and explore, and understand the histories of communities of the art world 189 . ...
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A review of twenty years of literatures on the benefits of Art Craft and Design Education.
... Bryant (2017) reports that students like to ask each other for help, and that collaboration empowers students in a class. It has been demonstrated that PAL provides a milieu for divergent thinking, which is key to the creative thinking process (Sowden et al., 2015;Shin, 2010). Sawyer (2007) suggests that group collaboration needs to start from detail; that it can be risky and inefficient, but that educators should allow time and space to let creative products emerge. ...
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The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all levels of education around the world in many ways, including in Sri Lanka. In higher education institutions this has involved an unexpected and ‘forced’ transition from face-to-face to remote teaching and learning modes, with universities being required to create new types of learning environments. This paper reports on work with students in a pre-service Drama and Theatre teacher education degree, with a focus on the final year professional practice component. It reports on an innovative approach involving Zoom technology, adopted not only to evaluate students’ learning outcomes and pre-service capabilities, but also to strengthen their collaborative and creativity skills. The findings of the study contribute to strengthening understanding of the potential of virtual, technology-based approaches such as Zoom in changed teaching and learning conditions, and signpost possible future research directions in terms of integrating technology and online delivery for Drama and Theatre teacher education.
... Several studies provide support for the important role of creative movement and creative dance activities included in PE on children, as they evidenced the improvement in many domains of children's personality, meaning psychomotor, cognitive/perceptual, psychological, affective, social (Bournelli, 1998;Geršak et al., 2020;Giguere, 2006Giguere, , 2011Leandro et al., 2018;Lykesas et al., 2014;Neville & Makopoulou, 2020;Richard et al., 2018;Sanders, 1988;Simpson Steele et al., 2016;Sowden et al., 2015;Steinberg & Steinberg, 2016). Nevertheless, this body of research with creative movement and creative dance interventions covers mainly its effects in primary school settings. ...
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Introduction: Both motor creativity and motor competence are important features of children's personality that should be cultivated and enhanced in early years. Creative dance and movement are a valuable educational means; however, research on the outcomes of the implementation of this educational means on young children is limited and has several methodological shortcomings. Purpose: In this study, the effects of an eight-week creative dance and movement program on motor creativity and motor competence of preschoolers were investigated. Methods: A total of 57 preschoolers (49-73 months of age) participated in a controlled trial, with 29 children in the experimental group (EG) and 28 in the control group (CG). Pre-post assessments were conducted using the Thinking Creatively in Action and Movement Test (TCAM; Torrance, 1981) and the Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency-2 (BOT-2; Bruininks & Bruininks, 2005). Analyses of covariance (ANCOVAs), with age and pre-test scores as covariates, were utilized on children's total post-TCAM and BOT-2 scores. Results: Regarding motor creativity, a statistically significant superiority of EG (p < 0.001, η p 2 = 0.36) was revealed; whereas, in motor competence no statistically significant differences were detected between CG and EG, in spite of the improvement of children's scores. Age was significantly associated with both motor creativity and motor competence scores (p < .001). Conclusion: This study indicates that a creative dance and movement program may substantially boost preschoolers' creative potential; however, it appears that this type of movement programs, focusing mainly on locomotor activities, does not provide children with enough opportunities to develop a wide range of their motor skills. Moreover, during preschool years, a few months age difference may considerably affect the creative and motor potential of children. This should be taken under consideration when measuring children's motor creativity and motor competence.
... A noteworthy body of literature has also highlighted the value of arts participation in fostering creativity (O'Toole, 2009), divergent thinking (Sowden et al., 2015), enhanced self-concept through creative freedom and self-discovery (Nazario, 2021), and distinct ways of experiencing the world that are unique to engagement in the arts. This includes more informal approaches to music learning that also incorporate popular music styles, such as Hip Hop (Gage et al., 2019). ...
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Arts programs are increasingly recognized for their role in promoting student development and cohesive school communities. Yet, most Australian schools are left to navigate a landscape characterized by shifting policy goals and external providers of diverse quality and intent. Drawing on interviews with 27 stakeholders from 19 Catholic primary schools in Melbourne, Australia, we explored key approaches to arts provision in this context, and conditions that hinder and support it. Approaches varied markedly, from school-wide programs embedded across the curriculum, to one-off incursions. Conditions consistently affecting provision ranged from leadership support to a community’s view of the arts. Programs regularly relied on individuals passionate about arts to go beyond their paid roles, yet this frequently jeopardized sustainability. Overall, the approaches identified, and conditions affecting their sustainability, reveal a lack of value for school arts at policy and administration levels. This lack of value is not demonstrated in the provision of other traditional school activities like math or literacy, which begs consideration by policymakers and school administrators.
... A previous metaanalysis on the effects of theater training found that the only area with clear, causal, positive effects was verbal comprehension Winner and Hetland, 2000). More recent research has found evidence of relationships between participating in theater and advancement of socialemotional outcomes such as theory of mind and empathy , emotional control (Goldstein and Lerner, 2017), emotion regulation (Larson and Brown, 2007;Goldstein et al., 2013), communication (Hui and Lau, 2006), narrative abilities (Nicolopoulou et al., 2015), and creativity (Sowden et al., 2015). ...
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