Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Manuela Lynn Batalo completes dissertation in the School of Educational Leadership and Change

Creativity and Mindfulness, Manuela Lynn Batalo

In this study, I explored the personal attitudes toward creativity of students enrolled in digital photography classes at a Southern California community college, and attempted to discover if awareness brought to creativity and participating in a creative process affects these attitudes. Pink (2005) suggested that creativity is a desirable 21st century skill, and that the future lies in individuals’ abilities to be creative. Yet, creativity is a difficult and complex subject, with many models and definitions. Due to this complexity, individuals may not be aware of their own creativity before they have identified it (Kaufman, 2009; Richards, 2007). Acquiring personal knowledge and insights about creativity through reflection and by participating in the creative process may also help to shift perspectives, increase awareness, and enhance creative potential.

Data collection for this mixed-method study included both quantitative and qualitative instruments. I used a Self-Assessment of Creativity, the Langer Mindfulness Scale (2004), and the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (2003) as quantitative pre- and post-test instruments. An open-ended question on the Self-Assessment of Creativity, observation logs, journal questions, and photographs submitted by the participants during the 5-week period provided qualitative data. I used content analysis to analyze the results of the qualitative data.

Eighteen participants increased their self-assessment of creativity ratings. They were in two age ranges, 18- to-24-year-olds and 31- to-35-year olds. Two of the students were art majors, 6 of the students were STEM/social science majors, and 10 of the students had not yet decided on a major.

The results from this study indicate that educators may increase students’ assessments that they are creative by providing experiences that ensure students can successfully use creative tools, as in the case of digital photography. In addition, by bringing awareness to the students that creativity is multifaceted, educators may be able to link creativity to multiple areas of the students’ lives. It is important for educators to provide the experiences and opportunities necessary for students to develop the sense that they can be creative. One such experience is training in cognitive strategies for mindfulness.

Key Words: Creativity, Mindfulness

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