The paradox of creative uncertainty in learning and teaching

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Research and Development in Higher Education Vol. 38: Learning for Life and Work in a Complex World

July, 2015, 528 pages
Published by
T. Thomas, E. Levin, P. Dawson, K. Fraser & R. Hadgraft

In an ever-changing and globalised world there is a need for higher education to adapt and evolve its models of learning and teaching. The old industrial model has lost traction, and new patterns of creative engagement are required. These new models potentially increase relevancy and better equip students for the future. Although creativity is recognised as an attribute that can contribute much to the development of these pedagogies, and creativity is valued by universities as a graduate capability, some educators understandably struggle to translate this vision into practice. This paper reports on selected survey findings from a mixed methods research project which aimed to shed light on how creativity can be designed for in higher education learning and teaching settings. A social constructivist epistemology underpinned the research and data was gathered using survey and case study methods. Descriptive statistical methods and informed grounded theory were employed for the analysis reported here. The findings confirm that creativity is valued for its contribution to the development of students’ academic work, employment opportunities and life in general; however, tensions arise between individual educator’s creative pedagogical goals and the provision of institutional support for implementation of those objectives. Designing for creativity becomes, paradoxically, a matter of navigating and limiting complexity and uncertainty, while simultaneously designing for those same states or qualities.

Keywords: Creativity, uncertainty, graduate capabilities