- A new Gallup report finds creativity in learning paired with transformative technology use — i.e. tech use that opens new possibilities for teachers to deliver information — significantly increases positive outcomes for students.
- Teachers who had a lower focus on creativity, regardless of technology use, reported lower outcomes. Positive outcomes rose when higher focus was placed on creativity paired with substitutional tech use, which replaces traditional tools like paper and pencil with technology that performs the same tasks, and increased even more with a higher focus on creativity paired with transformative tech use.
- The findings also suggest a disparity between the percentage of teachers who say students often work on real-world projects (51%) and the percentage of students who agree (26%).
Based on 12 school visits across the country and three web surveys of nearly 2,673 parents, 1,036 teachers, and over 850 students, the Gallup report suggests that despite the stress placed on real-world application of classroom material, repetition and rote learning remain the norm for students.
Only 12% of teachers say standardized tests are a good measure of student learning, yet 43% of students are likely to say they spend a lot of time learning how to do well on these tests.
“We’ve been obsessed with standardized tests for three decades, but the prevailing evidence is that we’ve lost our numbers [as a nation],” said Brandon Busteed, the president of Kaplan University Partners, during a Monday morning event in Washington, D.C.
“It doesn’t make sense to operate from a point of rote memorization,” added Don Haddad, superintendent of St. Vrain Valley School District. “Our children will have to be agile, and they will have to adapt to an environment that is going to rapidly change.”
However, part of the problem may be in finding ways to define and assess “creativity.” Busteed suggested project-based assessments as an alternative.
While meshing creativity with transformative technology use can look different in every school, one common thread is that teachers who were given supportive and collaborative cultures, teacher training and autonomy to try new things were more likely to embrace creativity in learning versus those who didn’t.
But even with the stress on autonomy, it is important that school administrators strike a “definite balance.”
“Teacher autonomy without leadership guidance and direction results in silos where teachers begin to feel isolated,” Haddad said. “Innovation can’t take place unless you have the stability of a foundation, which comes from the system of leadership.”
Simple ways to promote creativity include altering structured student schedules to include blocks for less traditional learning experiences and designating parts of the school building as creative outlet areas. Districts can also partner with businesses and organizations to incorporate real-world applications in the curriculum.
Whatever the chosen initiative, it is important to ensure it is sustainable over time through a steady revenue stream. “What will happen often is that people will do these things on soft money,” Haddad said, “and then the district or teachers are left with frustration.”