Exploring Collective Creativity in Elementary Mathematics Classroom Settings

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The purposes of this research study were to investigate the nature of collective creativity in mathematics learning, offer needed empirical findings concerning collective creativity in Canadian elementary schools, explore ways in which collective creativity might be fostered in such settings, and generate understandings about the role of teachers in this endeavor. To fulfil the objectives of this study, I adopted a design-based research methodology with(in) which I worked closely with the participant teachers and scholars in the field of mathematics education, co-developing classroom tasks that would prompt collective creativity in mathematics and studying the design, implementation, and re-design of these tasks. I used three data collection methods, selected to gain a deeper understanding of my research questions, including: classroom observations, video records, and interviews. In my analysis and interpretation of the data, the main sources of which were the video recordings of students’ problem-solving sessions and teachers’ interviews, I concentrated on the students’ (co)acting and interacting within the group and how such collaborative practices contribute to the emergence of the new. Based on an extensive review of the literature on creativity, I suggested seven metaphors of creativity. Those were then refined and (re)developed over successive iterations of data analysis and interpretation until I ended up with four metaphors to describe the experience of creativity with(in) the collective: summing forces, expanding possibilities, divergent thinking, and assembling things in new ways. These were embodied in, and a representation of, varied, emergent, yet interwoven and recursive learning acts, thus I used collaborative emergence as an overarching framework for them. Moreover, I determined four categories for features of mathematics learning environments that I believe were critical in the emergence of collective creativity in such environments, including: attendance to inquiry-based learning, cultivation of collaborative problem-solving, an engaging learning environment, and thoughtful, subtle interventions. I believe that my metaphors of creativity, their logical implications and entailments, and the construct of emergence of collective creativity, offer teachers a frame for designing, evaluating, structuring, and restructuring their practices—structured and improvised practices—that include choosing, adopting, amending and/or designing learning activities to prompt and promote effective creative learning.
Mathematics education, Collective creativity, Mathematical creativity, Metaphors of creativity, Collaborative emergence
Aljarrah, A. (2018). Exploring Collective Creativity in Elementary Mathematics Classroom Settings (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca. doi:10.11575/PRISM/31863