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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Stephen J. Worst
Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Educational Leadership, Research and Technology
Title: Vygotsky’s Theory of the Creative Imagination: A Study of the Influences on Pre-service Teachers’ Creative Thinking Capacities”
Dr. Andrea Beach, Chair
Dr. Louann Bierlein-Palmer
Dr. Nancy Patterson
Date: Tuesday, October 30, 2007 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
WMU Graduate Center, Grand Rapids East Beltline Campus
This study investigates the effect of formal instruction in the use of creative thinking skills on pre-service teachers’ capacities for increased creative activity. It emerges from Lev Vygotsky’s theory of the creative imagination. He claimed that all individuals increase their creativity through the accumulation of rich knowledge and life experiences. Emphasizing the impact of formal schooling on the growth of creative activity, he implied that individuals who are continually adding to this accumulation develop an abundant imagination from which creative activity flows.
Introduced in the United States about 25 years ago, this theory has not been widely examined. The three articles that address Vygotsky’s ideas regarding creative thinking form a compelling theory about how creativity develops within people. He believed that by adding to their accumulated knowledge and life experiences all people increase the material from which the imagination draws in the process of thinking creatively.
This quantitative study used a quasi-experimental design and attempted to test Vygotsky’s assumptions within a sample population of 113 pre-service teachers. Forms A and B of the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking served as the pre- and post-tests that measured the creative capacities of the participants who were assigned to one of three sample groups. Group 1 (n1 = 30) received three one-hour sessions of training in the use of creative thinking skills; Group 2 (n2 = 42) received three one-hour sessions of training in general thinking strategies; and Group 3 (n3 = 41) served as the control. Pre- and post-study questionnaires were used to measure participants’ attitudes toward creative thinking.
The study’s results implied ways in which pre-service teachers might more effectively be prepared to act in creative ways. Additionally, the study addressed how they might promote within their future students the growth of creative action. Although the study’s results supported the hypothesis that Group 1’s intervention significantly increased participants’ capacities for creativity, the results pointed to the need for further investigation to test this increase over a longer period of time.