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Teachers' conceptualization of creativity in early childhood educational contexts

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Title:
Teachers' conceptualization of creativity in early childhood educational contexts
Creator:
Philip, Erin
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Publisher:
University of Colorado Denver
Publication Date:
Language:
English

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Degree:
Master's ( Master of arts)
Degree Grantor:
University of Colorado Denver
Degree Divisions:
School of Education and Human Development, CU Denver
Degree Disciplines:
Education and human development
Committee Chair:
Viramontez Anguiano, Ruben P.
Committee Members:
Goodman, Katherine
Meek, Patty

Notes

Abstract:
Three preschool teachers working in varied early childhood educational contexts were interviewed and observed to examine their creativity conceptualizations, how these developed, and how these manifest within their educational practices. A multiple case-study design was used; individual cases were organized using cultural-historical activity theory and the cross case analysis was ordered around the research questions. Conceptualizations were influenced by their cultural-historical development; these ideas are brought into their preschools-as-activity systems whereby creativity practices are also moderated by the tools/materials, and rules for such, within their school’s pedagogical approach.

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University of Colorado Denver
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Auraria Library
Rights Management:
Copyright Erin Philip. Permission granted to University of Colorado Denver to digitize and display this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.

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Full Text
TEACHERS’ CONCEPTUALIZATIONS OF CREATIVITY IN
EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATIONAL CONTEXTS
by
ERIN PHILIP
BE. A., University of Colorado Boulder, 2006 B.A., University of Colorado Boulder, 2006
A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts
Education and Human Development Program
2017


This thesis for the Master of Arts degree by Erin Philip
has been approved for the Education and Human Development Program by
Ruben P. Viramontez Anguiano, Chair Katherine Goodman
Patty Meek


Ill
Philip, Erin (M. A., Education and Human Development)
Teachers’ Conceptualizations of Creativity in Early Childhood Educational Contexts Thesis directed by Professor Ruben P. Viramontez Anguiano
ABSTRACT
Three preschool teachers working in varied early childhood educational contexts were interviewed and observed to examine their creativity conceptualizations, how these developed, and how these manifest within their educational practices. A multiple case-study design was used; individual cases were organized using cultural-historical activity theory and the cross case analysis was ordered around the research questions. Conceptualizations were influenced by their cultural-historical development; these ideas are brought into their preschools-as-activity systems whereby creativity practices are also moderated by the tools/materials, and rules for such, within their school’s pedagogical approach.
This form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication.
Approved: Ruben P. Viramontez Anguiano


IV
DEDICATION
To all of my students, it has been an honor creating with you over the years. Keep dreaming, wondering, and making. Thank you for encouraging me to do the same.


V
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Eva: You are the mightiest. You inspire me everyday. Thank you for being a part of my life. Now, pack your suitcase- we have some exploring to do!
Jordan: Thank you. I look forward to keep exploring the world with you. It still is about thawed chicken. Your support has carried me through these tough years. I love you.
Mom: Thank you for getting me up at 4:30am all those mornings to get me to the rink, and not letting me give up. You still don’t let me give up, and keep me going-
Dad: Thank you for teaching me to think differently, for showing me good design, for telling me stories of uni... You continue to push me, and encourage me to keep thinking-
To my CU Denver thesis committee:
Dr. Anguiano: Thank you for inspiring me to take on future academic endeavors, and for all of the opportunities. Your words of wisdom stick with me-
Dr. Goodman: Thank you for challenging me; our conversations about creativity and the experiences I had at inworks were fundamentally life changing-
Dr. Meek: Thank you for your support and guidance during this long journey! Your classes are legendary, and you continue to inspire me to work for change-


VI
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER
I. INTRODUCTION............................................................1
Purpose of Study...................................................2
Significance of the Study..........................................4
Definitions and Terms..............................................5
Personal Identification with the Topic.............................5
II. LITERATURE REVIEW......................................................7
Creativity.........................................................7
The Standard Definition of Creativity..............................7
Creativity in Early Childhood.....................................13
Becoming and Being Creative.......................................22
Education and Creativity Culture..................................23
Theoretical Lens..................................................27
III. METHOD...............................................................32
Research Design...................................................32
Participants......................................................33
Role of the Researcher............................................34
Interview and Observation Protocol................................35
Data Analysis.....................................................36
IV. MANUSCRIPT...........................................................38
Overview..........................................................38
The Culture of Creativity and Schools.............................39


vii
Literature Review...........................................39
Purpose of the Study and Research Questions.................43
Method......................................................43
Findings....................................................47
Case-Study Analysis.........................................47
Cross-Case Analysis.........................................57
Discussion..................................................62
V. GLOBAL DISCUSSION..............................................65
REFERENCES........................................................67
APPENDIX
A: UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO DENVER COLORADO MULTIPLE.............75
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD (COMIRB) APPROVAL....................75
B: UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO DENVER COLORADO MULTIPLE..............76
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD (COMIRB) AMENDMENT APPROVAL ... 76
C: INTERVIEW CONSENT...........................................77
D: INTERVIEW GUIDE.............................................78
E. CULTURAL/HISTORICAL ACTIVITY THEORY DIAGRAM
79


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CHAPTERI INTRODUCTION
We all may be familiar with the feeling of surprise when noticing that three hours have gone by whilst we were so engaged in our task. Crunching numbers, painting, teaching, playing music; when a person is completely immersed in any of these endeavors, they experience flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 2013). We get there when we are being creative. But what can creativity mean? This research aims to provide a view of creativity through a cultural-historical lens, as experienced by preschool teachers who, as a result of their own experiences with creativity, provide learning experiences for their own students.
Some refer to creativity as the elixir of life, and it improves our well-being. It is also seen as being highly therapeutic. To compliment someone on their creativity is generally seen as a positive remark (Sawyer, 2012). And yet, being different and engaging in divergent thinking are often pathologized in our society (Richards, 2010), despite our contemporary society’s reverence for creativity (Saracho, 2012).
Creativity is an elusive concept to pin down; it has been notoriously difficult to define. Considered part and parcel of the human experience, creativity is considered by many to be inherent in childhood (Glaveanu, 2011), but it is believed that creative potential is stripped away during our development by the conformity demanded by schools (Robinson, 2015). Our educational systems have required compliance in order to produce efficient contributors to our economy (Guilford, 1950). Yet, we no longer require minds molded for factory-line repetitive tasks. We are in the innovation economy (Chadnick, 2016). Our education system, in many respects, is training students for lives in the 20th century, whereby creativity is left on the sidelines (Hondzel & Hansen, 2015). Furthermore, as problems


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become more complex in an interdependent global society, we will fundamentally require creativity and innovation to grapple with the urgent needs facing our species on a warming planet.
Creativity has been put forth as an essential 21st century skill (Eckhoff, 2011). The world over, policy makers, economists, and educational innovators recognize that students’ creative potential is an asset to their nation (Beghetto, 2008; Hondzel & Hansen, 2015). And yet, schools have been traditionally seen as deleterious to creativity; the behaviors and habits necessary for creativity to be nurtured and developed are often hindered, if not squelched entirely (Sternberg, 2007; Robinson, 2015). Creativity is seen as a “fluff’ skill and is undervalued in schools (Karwowski, 2010) so much so that engineering professors fail to see its worth in their curricula (Zappe, Mena, Litzinger, 2013), and educational psychologists have not paid it much attention (Plucker, Beghetto, & Dow 2004).
Despite the extensive research and debates concerning the nature of creativity, whom may be creative, where creativity is, even the very definition of creativity, a common thread however, is that creativity does not exist in a vacuum. Creativity is embedded in culture, and the human mind is very much an active part of said culture, transmitting and receiving information as we develop.
Purpose of Study
The purpose of this study was to explore how teachers conceptualize creativity and how this manifests in their teaching practice. How these beliefs about creativity were formed were also investigated. This research serves as a starting point for future work, and is important to the literature by providing elementary direction to Hondzel and Hansen’s (2015) observation that, “missing is a body of research that exposes the educational and life-course


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experiences that contribute to human creativity” (p. 177). Furthermore, teachers who participated in this research teach in varied educational contexts (art center, forest kindergarten, play-based school), and there is not much known about the differences in teachers’ creativity perceptions across contexts (Mullet, Willerson, Lamb, & Kettler, 2016). Specific to preschool teachers, the literature yields very little information regarding creativity beliefs and classroom practices. Creativity studies have usually focused on similarities and differences between teacher conceptualizations and that of researchers (Saracho, 2012). Guiding Research Questions
The initial proposition of this multiple case study was that: teachers have developed an understanding of creativity throughout their lives as influenced by their ecological system. Teachers bring their conceptualization of creativity to their educational practice in myriad ways, which may or may not align with theories of creativity as posited by researchers. This was later revised, as per multiple case study methodology (Yin, 2014), to: teachers have developed an understanding of creativity throughout their lives as cultural/historical experience. Teachers bring their conceptualization of creativity to their educational practice in myriad ways through their activity system, which may or may not align with theories of creativity as posited by researchers.
The guiding research questions for this study are thus,
• How do teachers conceptualize creativity? And in education?
• How did the concept of creativity develop for these teachers?
• How do teachers’ beliefs about creativity influence and moderate their educational practice?


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Significance of the Study
As teachers have a fundamental role in the development of student’s creativity within educational contexts (Kampylis, Berki, & Saariluoma, 2009) through curriculum delivery and through interactions, the positive or negative aspects of these may enhance or be detrimental to students (Leggett, 2017). As creativity can be fostered, teachers have a responsibility to make certain that students are encouraged in their creativity development (Rubenstein, McCoach, & Siegle, 2013; Leggett, 2017). The established research into the topic presumes that teachers may have “misconceptions” about the nature of creativity, and these biases, whether uninformed or not, establish what is acceptable in terms of teaching for creativity, which in turn may manifest in obstacles to students’ creativity development (Saracho, 2014). The research presented in this thesis considers the development and conceptualization of creativity from the teacher’s perspective. It seeks to honor that viewpoint as the manifestations of their own ideas, as situated in their cultural/historical experience, emerge in their teaching context.
With education policies having been in flux for the past decades, and with more seismic shifts on the horizon due to the results of the 2016 election as school voucher systems and looming promises of education privatization begin to materialize, researchers must get creative themselves and look for new angles and possibilities for nurturing creativity within our schools. This study is significant in that it offers a timely view on the lived experiences of teachers who have chosen to work outside of mainstream educational norms by creating their own educational environments as part of their vision for appropriate early childhood education.


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While creativity has been proposed as integral to advancing our collective global societies forward through economic growth, it remains that our species, and planet, is facing serious challenges that require urgent creative and innovative solutions. The gravity of our situation cannot be understated, and education plays a key role in addressing solutions. Definitions and Terms
Classroom: Used to describe the educational context the participants teach in. Participants teach in: an art studio, a house, and on public lands (facility free).
Conceptualization: Understandings that come from sensory experiences; the individual acts upon, defines them, and reflects on these understandings (Andilou & Murphy, 2010). Personal Identification with the Topic
In order to understand the motive for this research topic, it is important to recognize the author’s connection with creativity. I (Erin Philip) have been working in education reform for the last decade, both in the United States and in the U. A. E. Central to my teaching practice has been the fostering of visual thinking, spatial reasoning, and creativity as key skills students need for critical thinking in the pursuit of social and environmental justice. I am a trained contemporary artist who works in the sculptural and performance realms, and bring in an anthropological and feminist standpoint to my work. My own working understanding of creativity follows Tanggaard’s (2015) explanation, “Creativity involves doing something new-possibly something unexpected- and combining things in ways that diverge from that which already exists”(p. 190).
Throughout my career in education, I have found that certain teaching and child-rearing practices are inhibitory or deleterious to the development and nurturance to our students’ creative potential. This project began with an implicit assumption that I might


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uncover what is going wrong in teachers’ perceptions of creativity in order to provide avenues for change. Throughout the iterative process that is central to research project design, I began to see that indeed, there are extant practices within education that are beneficial to the fostering of children’s creativity. Thus, I turned to early childhood education, and listened to teachers who were motivated by their own visions of appropriate preschool to see where they were coming from, and why they were informing their practices in the manner they were. As such, my original, implicit assumptions that framed the beginning of this study changed to a more positive outlook as I learned from teachers’ views and contextualized experiences.
We must be creative in order to tackle and solve the world’s most pressing issues. Working to advance creativity development in children, and working to protect it, is my avenue for change.


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CHAPTER II LITERATURE REVIEW
Creativity
As uncovering teachers’ conceptualizations of creativity is one of the aims of this research, an overview of the creativity research field is presented from myriad perspectives. This literature review also situates today’s preschool teacher with in the context of a Western culture’s understanding of creativity. Further, a brief review of teacher creativity beliefs shall provide a starting point for what is known and assumed about teachers.
The Standard Definition of Creativity
The study of creativity in the United States has been extensive, and has been approached from many disciplines (Feldman & Benjamin, 2006). There are conceptual frameworks spanning lifetime development (e.g. Cohen, 2012), models of different types of creativity (e.g. J. C. Kaufman & Beghetto, 2009), evolutionary standpoints (Albert, 2012), personality factors (e.g. S. B. Kaufman, 2013), and cognitive approaches that focus on the process of creativity (e.g. Wallas, 1926).
The standard definition of creativity, while still debated (Mullet, Willerson, Lamb, & Kettler, 2016), remains as the creation of a product that is both original and appropriate (Runco & Jaeger, 2012). Both components are contentious and raise many questions worthy of inquiry. Novelty seems facile, yet begs the question, to whom is the creative product original? The creator of said artifact, or their audience? Appropriateness, or close approximations such as useful, valuable, or relevant, again elicit the pondering of, to whom? (Runco & Jaeger, 2012) The culture? And who decides this? The appropriateness factor is controversial because it can be argued that the very ideas that push boundaries and help change paradigms are indeed inappropriate (at the time) according to mainstream beliefs


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(Amabile, 1996). As Kozbert, Beghetto, and Runco (2010) note, “to understand creativity in all of its richness, there is a need for moderation, where no one theoretical perspective is emphasized at the expense of others” (p. 20).
The Creative Individual
In 1950, Guilford addressed the American Psychological Association with an urgent call for researchers to focus more on creativity, and this event is considered by many psychologists to mark the beginning of an extensive tradition of creativity research (Feldman & Benjamin, 2006; Richards, 2007; Guilford, 1950). Earlier research into creativity was primarily focused on the creative individual, and what makes that person creative was considered an innate characteristic (Amabile, 1996, Tanggaard, 2015). Indeed, much creative research continues to investigate the “internal mental processes of specific individuals” (Sawyer & DeZutter, 2009, p. 90). Torrance’s tests of divergent thinking (TTCT) and Guilford’s unusual uses test are examples of myriad approaches to creative measurement (Amabile, 1996).
Gardner (1993) investigated the lives of eminent individuals: Freud, Einstein,
Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham, and Gandhi. By focusing on their moments of breakthroughs that were significant in terms of Big C type creativity (one of four types of creativity, to be elucidated in a later section), Gardner (1993) discovered that there appears to be a ten-year rule, whereby creative people make breakthroughs following ten years of work in a given domain, and they may or may not make significant breakthroughs again in the following decades.
Working in a time when creative personality traits were actively researched, a metaanalysis by Feist (1998) found that “creative people are more autonomous, introverted, open


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to new experiences, norm-doubting, self-confident, self-accepting, driven, ambitious, dominant, hostile, and impulsive” (p. 299). Feist (1998) also noted differences between creatives in art versus science. Recent research involving the Big 5 personality traits (a highly researched personality trait model based on five factors), S. B. Kaufman (2013) found that openness to experience was more correlated to creative accomplishment than other personality traits, IQ, or divergent thinking scores (S. B. Kaufman & Gregoire, 2015). Openness to experience, as a personality trait, involves exploration and engagement in aesthetics, intellect, and affect (S. B. Kaufman & Gregoire, 2015).
The Social Environment
A componential model of creativity was put forth by Amabile (1996) that situated creativity as a social psychology. Amabile investigated the detrimental effects of extrinsic motivators as placed on students from their social surroundings. This was a contextual approach; intrinsic motivation can be undermined due to the context and negatively impacts the creativity of students. It is a hydraulic model; as extrinsic motivators increase, intrinsic motivation decreases (Amabile, 1996). Amabile also put forth the consensual assessment technique (CAT), which enabled experts in creativity or a layperson’s opinion to assess the creative products of school-aged children (Amabile, 1996). This is an important distinction, as it demonstrates how culturally situated creativity is; creative products as consensually “approved” artifacts.
To illustrate this point further, in her book written for parents, Growing Up Creative, Amabile (1989) gives the examples of children’s work that meet the creativity definition.
One child colored in a dinosaur-coloring sheet neatly, but used a striping pattern of different colors to fill in the form. Another child, having been given the directive to write a paper on


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China, went ahead and wrote prose on fine china. According to Amabile (1989), the dinosaur coloring was resoundingly creative because the child colored within the conventions of the task while using their own personal flair. The China/china example was begrudgingly noted as creative, but controversially so, as the child deliberately used a play-on-words to break conventions and knowingly refused to fulfill her teacher’s directive.
Csikszentmihalyi (2014) asked not only what is creativity, but “where is creativity?” (p. 47) as creative individuals cannot be judged by their oeuvre in isolation; the social and historical context from which the work was constructed are just as important. Simply put, we must know what the maker was innovating from, as “without rules there cannot be exceptions, and without tradition there cannot be novelty” (Csikszentmihalyi, 2014, p. 103), as creators never are acting alone, free from influence. The systems model of creativity (SMC) consists of three components; the field, the domain, and the individual, with all three systems interacting to make creativity possible. The field is comprised of social institutions and can be considered gatekeepers to culture; these players make up and hold the requirements necessary for the creative products inclusion for future generations. The domain consists of the ideas that will be transmitted to, and preserved by, future generations. The individual is the person who brings about change in domain, as sanctioned by the field (Csikszentmihalyi, 2014). Relevant to the forthcoming discussion of whether or not children are indeed creative, it must be noted that in terms of children’s creativity, Csikszentmihalyi (2003) put forth that,
It could be argued that children’s spontaneous, original productions are indeed socially valued, because the children’s mothers and teachers value them. In the restricted sense, one can indeed say that children are creative within the domain of children’s art or what have you. But such domains are peripheral to every culture, except perhaps in developmental terms (it’s good for the children to practice art, etc.), but the creativity of such productions is not very relevant, (p. 220)


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Forms of Creativity
As a great deal of research on creativity has emphasized greatness; a useful model to view and appreciate creativity in various forms is J. C. Kaufman and Beghetto’s (2009) Four C model of creativity, developed to reduce the dichotomous thinking often present in creativity research. The Four C model can be seen as a type of developmental trajectory, yet is not defined by age, nor is it to be viewed as rigidly stepped. A Big C creator may have dabbled in Mini C to try out new avenues, and then skip Pro C altogether. To illustrate the four c model:
• Big C Creativity. This form of creativity represents the “creative greatness” (p. 1) of those who have driven culture, science, and society forward. This type of creativity can be studied and exemplified in the lives of such people as Toni Morrison, Albert Einstein, or Marina Abramovic. This line of research was employed by Gardner (1993).
• Pro C Creativity. These are working professionals who may or may not be making a living off of their creative pursuits. They may remake a popular movie, or develop important software as to move their field forward incrementally, but not in leaps and bounds.
• Mini C creativity. This form of creativity is where individuals may develop understandings and knowledge; the interpretations and insights experienced by a person during the creativity process are important. A person who is learning architectural techniques in AutoCAD is developing important creative abilities, but their technique and original-to-themselves ideas should not be compared to Zaha
Hadid.


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• Little C creativity. This form of creativity can be seen in the everyday lives of people. Examples may include: using leftovers to create something actually delicious, or fixing a scheduling conflict at one's workplace (J. C. Kaufman & Beghetto, 2009).
To further our use of mini C creativity specific to this research, J. C. Kaufman and Beghetto (2009) note that, “ all one has to do is spend a bit of time observing the creative insights expressed by young children in their daily activities of learning and play" (p. 4). For example, a child may want to be an intestine/police officer for Halloween. Fascinated by the inner workings of her body, while at the same time in awe of the officer who came to speak to her preschool class, she created something unique, and personally creative.
Similarly, Richards (2010) put forth everyday creativity whereby creativity is focused on both product and process, and is seen as “universal and central to human survival” (p.
194). Richards (2010) advocates for creative normalcy to counteract unhealthy social norms whereby being different is pathologized. Divergence requires tolerance, and the products of such creativity, while involving a bit of “personal risk-taking” (p. 200) can be healthy for individuals as it may offer a compensatory advantage. The everyday creative process requires being present so that authentic ideas and the possibilities of such may become apparent (Richards, 2010).
Tanggaard (2015) also looks at everyday creativity, and refers to this process as creative pathways, whereby everyone can be considered creative, as creativity is part of an interconnected life. These pathways are not isolated within the mind of the creator, but are comprised of components from everyday life that have been recombined in new ways. This model of creativity is based on the potential that is present in everyday life, that which is “not


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yet there” (p. 185), but which cannot be firmly envisioned ahead of time. This relies on a certain improvisation as the person interacts with their surroundings, but their creative pathway carries a history. Creativity pathways are systems oriented, whereby mind and culture are interdependent (Tanggaard, 2015).
Drawing from distributed cognition in cognitive science, contemporary research posits creativity as “embedded in social groups” (Sawyer & DeZutter, 2009, p. 81) whereby creative products manifest from the interaction inherent in collaborative networks. Drawing on research on improvisation, Sawyer (2006) defines distributed creativity as “situations where collaborating groups of individuals collectively generate a shared creative product” (Sawyer & DeZutter, 2009, p. 82). Glaveanu (2011) refers to this as the “We-paradigm” (p. 7) of creativity.
Creativity in Early Childhood
From the beginnings of formal early childhood education in the United States, play and creativity have been seen as tandem, interdependent features of a sound childhood experience. Preeminent voices in early childhood such as Froebel, Dewey, and Gesell, all advocated for creative play in some form or another (Feldman & Benjamin, 2006).
For Vygotsky (2004),
Any human act that gives rise to something new is referred to as a creative act, regardless of whether what is created is a physical object or some mental or emotional construct that lives within the person who created it and is known only to him. (p. 7)
Creativity in Vygotsky’s developmental framework was seen as a transformative process,
and it included young children’s play, fantasy, and imagination (John-Steiner, Connery,
Maijanovic-Shane, 2010). Vygotsky saw play as “imagination in action” (p. 11), and play
needed to have created imaginary situations, and rules (John-Steiner et al., 2010). These


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rules are based on the social/historical context (Vygotsky, 1978). Vygotsky (1978) also noted that “every act of imagination starts with this accumulation of experience” (p. 15), with the understanding that the more abundant the experiences of the child, the richer the imagination would be, as the child would have assimilated this life experience into their imagination’s productivity. Contemporary Vygotskian scholars maintain that it is in the zone of proximal development (ZPD) that creativity emerges from the social, and it is in the everyday, the ordinary, where creativity exists (John-Steiner et al., 2010). Holzman (2010) asserts that “without creating ZPDs, there is no creativity” (p. 28), as creativity is a collective activity.
A group of eminent creativity researchers, in the conclusion to their book
“Development and Creativity,” make the following claim,
We came to a consensus that children are not really creative, given the definitions of creativity that are necessary to explain the important and influential innovations that have impacted our lives. Some of us are willing to retain a residual notion of small-c creativity- the everyday cleverness that makes us smile or makes life easier- for the novel, unusual actions of children, but we all distinguish this from big C creativity, the creation of culture-transforming products that is only found in adults. Sawyer, John-Steiner, Moran, Sternberg, Feldman, Nakamura, & Csikzentmihalyi, 2003, p. 240
In a direct response to this assertion, Glaveanu (2011) finds this view to be valid, yet recognizes that predominant creativity theories are adult-centric. Glaveanu (2011) argues that children are “active and creative beings” (p. 17) if viewed through the 4 Ps of creativity framework. As originally formulated by Rhodes, the 4 Ps are Person, Process, Product, and Press (or environment). Glaveanu (2011) recognizes that there are “clear parallels between the child’s play and the creator’s work” (p. 9), but notes that intentionality of the creator (implying conscious action and a goal) has been deemed missing for children by creativity researchers. In regards to press, Glaveanu (2011) asks, “Are children creative in relation to


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the social and the cultural world? They certainly belong to this world and make constant efforts to apprehend it and become part of it” (p. 13). In essence, children are being creative by being a person involved in a process, and by making or doing things by acting upon their environment.
Preschool behaviors and creativity
Play is considered essential for children, and is seen as beneficial to encourage curiosity, exploration, and creativity (Belknap & Hazier, 2014). Given the standard definition for creativity (novelty plus usefulness), Russ (2014) asks the oft-queried proposal, “Can children be truly creative?” (p. 8). Russ (2014) contends that, with attention paid to age norms, children can indeed produce creativity, even though they cannot yet make important contributions to domains (Russ & Dillon, 2011). Pretend play has been referred to as “the creative elixir of childhood” (Russ, 2014, p. 3), as children may spend their days engaged in everyday creativity. They may find new ways to build a castle out of boxes, or design new fashions for their stuffed animals. Pretend play can also be considered to be a means for the development of Mini C creativity (Russ, 2014), and it involves imagination, affect, fantasy, and make-believe (Russ & Dillon, 2011). Children also deal with affect during fantasy play (both positive and negative), considered important for creativity (Russ & Dillon 2011), and child-directed free-play provides time for children to develop self-regulation, choice-making, independence, and sense of self (Belknap & Hazier, 2014).
It is also important to note that there is overlap in affective and cognitive processes between creativity and pretend play. These are: divergent thinking, broad associations, cognitive flexibility, problem solving/insight, perspective-taking, narrative development,


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affect themes and symbols, emotional expression, joy in pretending, and integration of affect themes (Russ, 2014).
Research into play and creativity during the preschool years is not without controversy, indeed there are methodological challenges when working with such an age group (Lillard, Lemer, Hopkins, Dore, Smith, & Palmquist, 2013; Russ, 2014). Regardless, play is largely seen to be integral to healthy child development. However, it must be noted that Lillard, et al. (2013), cited methodological errors for the papers in their meta-analysis. They contend that the evidence is not in support of causal explanations for pretend play in development and proffer two alternatives: There are many paths to development with pretending being one of them, and pretending is an epiphenomenon; it happens with development, but does not cause it (Lillard, et al., 2013). The authors are strong to point out that "developmental science does not support young children sitting in desks while teachers lecture at them" (p. 26). However, Silverman (2016) contends in a counter meta-analysis that the play-creativity hypothesis is “likely true” (p. 141), but notes that pretend play is not a “prerequisite to the development of creativity” (p. 142).
Worldplay (or paracosms) involves imagined places evoked by children, often with the inclusion of imaginary characters, and worldplay must persist over time (weeks to years), be consistent in said imagined place, and it must matter to the child (Root-Bernstein & Root-Bemstein, 2006). In studying this, (Root-Bernstein & Root-Bernstein, 2006) found worldplay "more common among MacArthur fellows than among MSU students" (p.412) and that those who engaged in paracosms as children represented a diverse array of professions beyond the arts. The authors suggest, "childhood worldplay does appear to


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provide an early apprenticeship in absorption and persistence, discovery, synthesis, and modeling" (p. 421), and these behaviors are important to creativity development.
Elaborated role play, as defined by the involvement of imaginary characters (beyond fleeting moments) as studied by Mottweiler & Taylor (2014), used new measures of creativity appropriate to preschoolers (i.e. story completion, drawing task), and found that the children who engaged in such play scored higher on both new measures of creativity. Teacher Beliefs
In order to understand how teachers form their instructional techniques, researchers must be aware of teacher’s beliefs of concepts and content (Belo, Van Driel, Van Veen, & Verloop, 2014). Researchers may distinguish between such related terms as belief, conceptualization, or attitudes (Andilou & Murphy, 2010), and while there are nuances between terms, many researchers use the terms interchangeably. Other relevant terms include: values, conceptions, perceptions, views, and implicit theories (Andilou & Murphy, 2010). Drawing on the seminal work of William James, Andilou and Murphy (2010) define beliefs as, “the mental state or function of cognizing reality in which an individual perceives something real, beyond the realm of imagination” (p. 206).
Implicit versus explicit theories can be recognized by their origin. Explicit theories are those “formulated by psychologists or other social scientists... from research studies on the individuals' creative performance" (Saracho, 2012, p. 35) while implicit theories are “those formulated by lay individuals who develop their implicit theories based on their belief systems about creativity” (Saracho, 2012, p. 35). There is a wide range of implicit theory definitions (Saracho, 2012), and there is not a consensus about beliefs as a construct (Belo et al., 2014).


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In the seminal work on teacher beliefs, Pajares (1992) described teacher beliefs as a “messy construct” that ran the gamut from self-efficacy, attribution, epistemological, to subject-specific beliefs. In a meta-analysis on teacher beliefs, Fives and Buehl (2012) found that beliefs serve as a filter, intentions and actions are guided by beliefs, and that beliefs change over time as beliefs have a “reciprocal relationship with context and experience” (Fives and Buehl, 2012, p. 488).
The implicit theories teachers hold about creativity is of consequence to their students (Karwowski, Gralewski, & Szumski, 2015), as the implicit theories about creativity held by teachers may impact their specific attitudes towards children (Karwowski, 2010 p. 1233). Henriksen, Mishra, and Fisser (2016) note that “a teacher’s pedagogy is often a primary driver of how students develop and learn” (p. 31); a teacher’s beliefs are significant and influence the way teachers practice their craft. Further, a teacher’s beliefs of creative behavior in students may affect the manner in which they interact (Westby & Dawson, 1995). Teachers ’ Conceptualizations of Creativity
Much research into teachers’ perceptions about creativity have centered on how aligned their beliefs are to the explicit theories as promulgated by creativity researchers (Aljughaiman & Mowrer-Reynolds, 2005). Yet, these explicit theories are not always consistent (Plucker, Beghetto, & Dow, 2004). Explicit theories can include: product, process, personal creativity, systems, or contexts (Mullet, et al., 2016). In-service teachers tended to define creativity as doing something original (thinking outside of the box), whilst pre-service teachers also included a social dimension, such as doing something good for society (Alku§ & Olgan, 2014). In a meta-analysis, teachers noted the importance of creativity, yet tended to define it in “broad strokes” (p. 24), definitions were confused or


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vague, and they did not define the products of such creativity as needing to be useful (Mullet, et al., 2016). Teachers held that a “sudden insight” led to creative products, while some could not differentiate between creative product versus process (Mullet, et al., 2016). There is an art bias amongst teachers as well. While teachers’ believed that creativity can manifest in all domains, creative outcomes were primarily from hands-on activities within the arts, or from writing (Andilou & Murphy, 2010; Kampylis, Berki & Saariluoma, 2009). Teachers did not want to judge the creative product for “fear of upsetting the creative process” (Mullet, et al., 2016, p. 28).
While the research shows inconsistencies in reports of how teachers conceptualize creativity, within these studies, many teachers’ own beliefs were contradictory. Aljughaiman and Mowrer-Reynolds (2005), found that teachers were in agreement with researchers’ categorization of creative behaviors: being imaginative, deep thinking, curiosity, originality, and creating “novel products and inventions” (p. 27). However, teachers were unaware of the characteristics necessary for divergent thinking (e.g. being able offer multiple solutions to a task). Kampylis, Berki, & Saariluoma (2009) studied teachers who held that everyone could develop their creativity, whilst at the same time about half of the participants believed that creativity was still a gift possessed by a few.
There is a significant body of research regarding the behaviors of students who are creative. Behaviors exhibited by students that are associated with creativity (e.g. increased questioning) may be seen as an interference and disruption to the classroom (Scott, 1999). In describing creative students, Aljughaiman and Mowrer-Reynolds (2005) found that teachers described creative students “with positive traits and the characteristics that are commonly liked by teachers”(p. 28). This poses a problem for students who are creative, but may not


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have high test scores or that may have behavioral challenges. The teachers did not consider courage, risk-taking, curiosity, or independent judgment as characteristics of a creative person (Aljughaiman & Mowrer-Reynolds, 2005). Likewise, Westby and Dawson (1995) found that teachers recognized creative students as responsible, reliable, logical, and certainly not a non-conformist who tries to do the seeming impossible or to test their own limitations.
Karwowski (2010), in studying teachers’ perceptions of creative versus “good” students, found that "creative students were perceived as more dynamic, intellectual, and excitable and less agreeable and conscientious than good students" (p. 1233). Karwowski (2010) goes on to note that creativity demands the “hard, persistent work” (p. 1237) of conscientiousness; the very characteristics assumed to constitute a good student. Despite teachers valuing creativity, they may misinterpret creativity as demonstrated by good behaviors, those behaviors which make an efficient classroom possible (Gralewski & Karwowski, 2013).
Aljughaiman and Mowrer-Reynolds (2005) found that teachers confused the characteristics of high achieving students with creativity, these were: high intelligence, being intrinsically motivated, and possessing verbal ability. Aljughaiman and Mowrer-Reynolds (2005) note that teachers were describing students who were high achievers, but had some creative traits. Indeed, intelligent people are capable of producing quality, but the originality piece may be missing (Aljughaiman & Mowrer-Reynolds, 2005).
de Souza Fleith (2000) found that teachers and researchers definitions converged at specific teaching strategies, which include the cooperative learning and discovery experiences known to enhance creativity. Teachers described creativity-enhancing environments as supportive of a student's self-confidence by allowing for time for students to


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become creative through open-ended activities without imposing too many rules (de Souza Fleith, 2000). Teachers relied on their intuition to teach creativity, although they were aware of how to support creativity in the class (de Souza Fleith, 2000). Teachers were aware of detriments to creativity which include intolerance for mistakes, ideas going ignored, and drill work.
Karwowski, Gralewski, and Szumski (2015) found that the more a teacher believed a student was creative, the more creative self-efficacy (CSE) that student had; students were sensitive to their teacher's perceptions of their creative abilities. Students’ own CSE beliefs were found to “decline by grade level” (p. 344), while their teachers did not make this distinction by grade when evaluating the creative abilities of their students (Begetto, Kaufman, & Baxter, 2011). Kampylis, Berki, and Saariluoma (2009) found that most pre-and in-service teachers agreed that in all students, creativity can be developed. Andilou and Murphy (2010) note that teachers “value creativity but they feel that they cannot support its development because of other expectations such as covering content and preparing students for standardized assessments” (p. 217).
For teacher beliefs specific to the preschool level, Feldman (2003) claims that our
culture tends to romanticize childhood. Feldman & Benjamin (2006) explain that,
Early childhood teachers commonly describe childhood creativity as an innocent openness to experience, a charming originality, or a delight in the novel. In this largely romantic view, all children are naturally (or perhaps supematurally) endowed with creativity, a quality of mind that many believe will diminish unless adults create conditions favorable to its continued expression, p. 324
Leggett (2017) found that preschool teachers demonstrated their understandings of creativity through their involvement with children, and the concepts included were: imagination, opportunity for intrinsic motivation, play, and an experience of enlightenment


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(or aha! moment). Leggett (2017) also found that the preschool teachers believed creative development for children was aided by: teachers who provide support with the physical environment, resources with which to create, access to nature and outdoors, time, and that “creativity is the children’s tool for learning” (p. 5). However, teachers did not demonstrate an awareness of how to promote creativity through interactions (Leggett, 2017). For example, they offered praise for being creative rather than extend learning opportunities (Leggett, 2017).
Becoming and Being Creative
Creativity can be considered a thinking skill or, an approach to thinking, and can be learned by doing, or by being actively involved in it (Henriksen, Mishra, & Fisser (2016). Sternberg (2007) contends that creativity can be thought of as a habit, as creative people work very hard at being creative, “they habitually respond to problems in fresh and novel ways, rather than allowing themselves to respond mindlessly and automatically” (p. 3).
The creative process has been formulated and re-arranged numerous times over the years, for example, IDEO’s design thinking model (Kelley, 2001). Sawyer (2012) integrates many concepts from extant creativity process models into an eight-stage model: problem find, build relevant knowledge, find related information, incubate, idea generation, combine ideas unexpectedly, pick best ideas, and represent the idea. These models, in varying degrees, aim to situate the individual’s cognition in terms of steps of being creative within a process.
Specific to the classroom environment, Craft (2007) notes that the following process is a “dynamic interplay between children and teachers” (p. 236). Children pose questions, play, are immersed in environments free from ridicule and criticism, innovate, be


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imaginative, and take risks with self-determination (Craft, 2007). These lists are to be seen as a general guide, and while they appear step-by-step, the intent is to be able to jump from one level to another, or to circle back and iterate on a different level; flexibility is inherent.
Sawyer (2012) notes that student creativity development includes: maintaining an openness for unusual ideas, work on problem finding, and have students question their assumptions in an inclusive environment where trust and safety is held. Resisting conformity via peer-pressure, and the modeling of creativity or creative behaviors by teachers should be seen by students (Sawyer, 2012). Failure can be seen as a positive thing, as can risk-taking (Sawyer, 2012). Time needs to be given for thinking, and for incubating of ideas (Sawyer, 2012). Students need collaboration and a cross-fertilization of ideas across domains whilst imagining other viewpoints (Sawyer, 2012).
In terms of a creativity-supporting environment, the following have been recommended: space and time flexibility, appropriate material availability, play and game-based approaches, peer collaboration, knowledge of student needs, external partnerships with agencies, and non-prescriptive lesson planning (Davies, Jinal-Snape, Collier, Digby, Hay, & Howe, 2012). The key is to find a balance between freedom and structure to allow for learner autonomy with support for appropriate risk taking (Davies, et al., 2012).
Education and Creativity Culture
Guilford (1950) noted that mass-education discouraged creatives, as “the child is under pressure to conform for the sake of economy and for the sake of satisfying prescribed standards” (p. 448). These sentiments resound with familiarity in today’s high-stakes testing environment, where classroom opportunities for creativity are not present (Snyder,
Gregerson, & J. C. Kaufman, 2013) or are even seen as places where creativity is stifled


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(Sawyer, 2012), and the emotions, imagination, and play required for creativity have no place (Marjanovic-Shane, Connery, & John-Steiner, 2010). Mullet et al. (2016) maintain that “there is no space in standardized curriculum for questioning the status quo, following one’s passion, or swimming upstream” (p. 27).
While there is no place for creativity during teacher-centered drill-based activities (Henriksen, Mishra, & Fisser, 2016), some researchers find space for creativity under the standards, so as long as teachers understand creativity and find the space and time for it (Beghetto, J. C. Kaufman, & Baer, 2015). Hondzel and Hansen (2015) recognize that while some standards do indeed promote creativity and innovation, teachers do not necessarily employ these learning outcomes by “rewarding students who persist with an idea through failure and reiteration” (p. 179). Furthermore, the high-stakes nature of standardized testing has created a burden for teachers; little time is left for creativity (Mullet et. al, 2016).
As for the preschools, there is a current “push-down” of standardization through “school readiness” initiatives and programming whereby preschoolers are now being taught the academic skills once reserved for subsequent grades (Christakis, 2016). Child-directed free-play has been declining in recent decades; children now have reduced opportunities and access for play resulting in play deprivation, which is of concern to counselors as development may be negatively impacted (Belknap & Hazier, 2014). However, Russ & Dillon (2011) found that despite a reduction in free, unstructured play, there has been no change in "amount and range of affect expression” (p. 337) and that imagination has increased. The authors postulate that children are resilient, they may be finding time to play outside of organized activities, and that modern culture may be providing problem-solving


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opportunities due to complexities of the era that require imagination to function (Russ & Dillon, 2011).
Until recently, most consideration of creativity within educational contexts centered around gifted and talented education (Sawyer, 2012), and many teachers are not being adequately trained in creativity or imagination at all (Hatt & Maynes, 2013). The usual K-12 curricular materials often exclude the explicit goal of creativity development (Beghetto & Kaufman, 2009). Guilford (1950) considered the importance of the facts and knowledge as espoused by teachers as important, as one cannot create without prior knowledge, but advocated for a change in how creativity was conceptualized in order to change education.
A recent study by Kim (2011) reported that there is a “Creativity Crisis”. Using the TTCT, Kim (2011) found that creative thinking is declining amongst all Americans, but particularly in kindergarten through third grade children. Kim (2011) notes, “To reverse decline in creative thinking, the United States should reclaim opportunities for its students and teachers to think flexibly, critically, and creatively. Standardization should be resisted” (p. 294). And while the TTCT only hones on a small part of what creativity is (divergent thinking), this research was publicized in the popular press by Bronson and Merryman (2010), which caused serious concern within mainstream culture.
One of the most watched TED talks of all time is Sir Ken Robinson’s “How Schools Kill Creativity” (Robinson, 2015). In the subsequent and popular book, Robinson offers a serious critique of the business of education, and proffers suggestions for change (Robinson, 2015). Also prevalent in the current mainstream culture is that of creativity training programs; a recent Google search for the same term yielded over 60,000,000 hits. Social


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media also provides a source for creativity information; Facebook and Instagram offer an abundance of memes on the nature of creativity.
There is a belief that creative products, and the individuals that create them, are seen as ahead of their time, as they often struggle to have their viewpoints heard within their culture e.g. Copernicus, Van Gogh (Csikszentmihalyi, 2014), but as Sawyer (2012) points out, this is not necessarily always the case. The Impressionists created their own show and support networks following the exclusion from the French Academy; creative acts, even if maligned by the dominant culture, can find a place (Sawyer, 2012).
Despite years of creativity research, there are certain myths that persist outside of academia. It is believed that people are either creative or they are not; one must be a genius in order to be creative (Plucker, Beghetto, & Dow, 2004). This is evident in the innovation economy, whereby it is often believed that a few brilliant inventors will lead the way (Sawyer, 2006). Tanggaard (2015) observes that there is often a dichotomy about the nature of creativity and innovation, in that it is approached either by “business as usual”(p. 191) or “challenge everything” (p. 191). There is also the persistent myth that creative people must have a psychological challenge or are a “lone nut” (Plucker, Beghetto, & Dow, 2004). There is also a persistent art bias towards creativity; the creativity of math and science are often left unrecognized (Kampylis, Berki, & Saariluoma, 2009; Glaveanu, 2011).
Creativity is believed to be a soft and fuzzy construct (Plucker, Beghetto, & Dow, 2004), but it remains that “ordinary” creativity does have an effect, it provides the “maintenance and constant re-generation of human culture” (Glaveanu, 2011, p. 16). Even with all of the thoughtful and important debate, researchers now generally agree that all humans can be creative (Tanggaard, 2015; Shontz, 2013).


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Theoretical Lens
This project began using Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory as a contextual lens from which to view teachers’ beliefs and uses of creativity within the classroom. A second lens was to emerge from the data from which to view the rationale for how teachers used creativity. Early in data collection, it became obvious that an ecological systems theory in addition to a common educational psychology theory would not be appropriate. Teachers were very particular with how they used paint or manipulatives, and how they would direct students or deliver feedback to them. It became clear that a teacher’s use of materials and rules for language use within their educational context was the external manifestation of their creativity conceptualizations. Thus, 2nd generation Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) was chosen as a lens to analyze the research questions.
CHAT can be used as an action research model whereby subjects reflect on their own activity in a form of praxis for change. This usage is consistent with 3rd generation CHAT, while 2nd generation CHAT has been used by Western researchers in exploratory and descriptive studies. It is in this tradition 2nd generation CHAT will be utilized. CHAT scholars, “examine the interactions shared among human consciousness, observable behavior, and cultural setting through mediated action” (Yamagata-Lynch, 2010, p. 140).
CHAT has its roots in the works of Russian psychologists (Vygotsky, Luria, and Leontiev) who were working in the last century against the Western psychology notions of behaviorism and psychoanalysis (Yamagata-Lynch, 2010; Nussbaumer, 2012). There are three generations of CHAT, as organized by Engestrom (1987). First generation CHAT is based on the work of Vygotsky, who held that mediated action must intercede the pervasive stimulus-response behavior explanation of the day. Mediated action is the way in which


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individuals internalize learning, as situated in culture/history (Yamagata-Lynch, 2010). Second generation CHAT is dependent on the work of Leontiev and Luria, but was conceptualized into the triangle diagram (see Appendix E) by Engestrom (1987). Assumptions
There are certain assumptions regarding CHAT that must be explained. People do not passively participate in their world (Yamagata-Lynch, 2010). In CHAT, the relationship between the environment and the organism is inseparable (Yamagata-Lynch, 2010). Making and doing things in the world (or, activity labor) is what makes us conscious, it is what makes us human (van der Riet, 2010). Knowledge is a social construction formed from history, culture, intentions, and tools used in the process of the everyday, and meaningmaking comes forth from the activity (Johassen & Roher-Murphy, 1999).
Activity System
The activity system is the unit of analysis that confers meaning to events (Engestrom, 1993), and “it is external activity that unlocks the circle of internal mental processes, that opens it up to the objective world” (Leontiev, 2009, p. 5). The activity is a collaborative process (Johassen & Roher-Murphy, 1999) and consists of certain components which can be visualized in Appendix E whereby each component exists in an interrelationship with the others (Engestrom, 1993). CHAT enables the researcher to “seek to identify how the other components are present and influencing the situation” (Foot, 2004, p. 3) at a specific point in time or over time.
• Activity System: The context consisting of six components plus outcome. In this study, this is the preschool classroom as context, plus the activity system’s outcome
motive.


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• Subject: The actor or individual; it is their point of view and actions that are considered (Feldman & Weiss, 2010), in this study it is the individual teachers.
• Tools: Conceptual or material tools used (Foot, 2004). These tools influence the ways people think and act (Johassen & Rohrer-Murphy, 1999). This includes classroom materials and language.
• Object: The “thing-to-be-acted-upon” (Foot, 2004, p. 333); it “motivates the actions of the subject” (Feldman & Weiss, 2010, p. 37). In this study, it is creativity.
• Community of significant others: People who work within the shared activity system and share the same interest in the object (Foot, 2004). In this study, the communities consist of students, co-teachers, and parents.
• Rules: Guide the actions of the subject, and how relationships are managed in the community (Foot, 2004), and they are implicit or explicit (Feldman & Weiss, 2010). In this study, rules are specific to the schools and the subject’s object motive; how language and materials were used.
• Division of labor: How subjects divide tasks and obtain resources; “what is being done by whom toward the object” (Foot, 2004, p. 6) both vertically and horizontally. (Foot, 2004). In this study, it is how language and materials are used by whom, and when.
The object in these case studies is creativity; objects are the reasons why people choose to be involved in an activity (Yamagata-Lynch (2010). Leontiev (1974) considered the object to exist in two forms; independent, and as a mental image, “as a product of the subject’s ‘detection’ of its properties, which is realized through -and only through- his activity” (p. 11). This distinction is important for the present research, as a guiding research


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question investigates the teachers’ concept of creativity; there are explicit definitions of creativity from researchers, and there are implicit definitions of creativity from teachers themselves. A teacher’s manifestation of their conceptualization of creativity will thus be evident in their activity. Salient to this line of research, Hakkarainen (1999) notes that within an activity system, “the adult’s own play experiences influence which play themes are selected and how they are set up and guided” (p. 247).
Foot (2014) notes three facets to an object: it is something to be acted upon, it is an “objectified motive” (p. 333) and it is “a desired outcome” (p. 333). In these cases, all teachers note creativity as one of the desired outcomes for their students. It must be noted however, that these teachers do indeed have other desired outcomes and motives for their classes; creativity is but one of many outcomes. While still debated and interpreted by researchers, the object-oriented activity definition shall follow Yamagata-Lynch (2010), “meditational processes in which individuals... participate driven by their goals and motives, which may lead them to create or gain new artifacts or cultural tools intended to make the activity robust” (p. 17). Drawing on Leontiev, Nardi (2005) notes that there is an element of human desire that motivates participation in an activity. Teachers are often passionate about what they do; they desire to make a difference through their work.
The subject contributes “to historically and culturally specific practices, the individual self gradually evolves to embody these practices and the latter begin to saturate and subsume all individual expressions and modes of acting” (Stetsenko & Arievitch, 2004). In this research, the development of the subject’s conceptualization of creativity was queried. As Leontiev (1974) noted, “the activity of individual people thus depends on their social position, the conditions that fall to their lot, and an accumulation of idiosyncratic, individual


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factors” (p. 10). The experiences had by the subject, inclusive in their cultural/historical contextual experience, influence the subject’s position about the object (Foot, 2004). A teacher’s attitude towards creativity is dependent on their experiences in the past, within cultural understandings of what creativity does or does not look like (Sternberg, 2007).
The object-motive is oriented to, and generates the activity; the goals are individually held within the system and may differ from other community members, but goals result in subject and community actions, which make the activity possible. For the present research, this can be explained as: Teachers (subject) are motivated to support creativity through their own educational context (activity system). Goals held by community members (teachers or students) might look different; teachers’ goals may be to facilitate a learning activity whilst a child’s goal might be to play and build a tower, but they are still within the same activity system of the preschool. The actions of the teacher might be to give the child blocks or assistance to build a tower (teacher moves), and the actions of the child might be to move the blocks around in different ways to get the tower built.


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CHAPTER III METHOD
To understand how teachers in varied early childhood learning contexts have conceptualized creativity personally, and in education, and to explore how they bring their implicit understandings into the classroom, a qualitative approach was deemed appropriate. Research Design
This research has a multiple-case study design (or collective case study design) whereby greater comprehension and in-depth analysis of teacher beliefs was possible than by using a single case alone (Johnson & Christensen, 2014). Collective case studies can be defined as “studying multiple cases in one research study” (Johnson & Christensen, 2014, p. 436). Collective case studies allow for comparisons of differences and similarities between cases (Johnson & Christensen, 2014).
Multiple case studies are designed in the following sequence: develop theory, select cases and design data collection protocol, conduct each case separately, write up case reports individually, draw cross-case conclusions through analysis, modify initial theory if necessary, and prepare a cross case report (Yin, 2014). The initial theory developed was that teachers have developed an understanding of creativity throughout their lives as influenced by their ecological system. Teachers bring their conceptualization of creativity to their educational practice in myriad ways, which may or may not align with theories of creativity as posited by researchers.
The participants were purposively chosen as individual cases to show differing viewpoints and contexts concerning the issue (Creswell, 2013). Cases were developed using CHAT as a theoretical lens and organizational tool using the 2nd generation triangle of


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components as arranged by Engestrom (1987). Individual cases, as separate activity systems, were then analyzed using qualitative methods, and the initial theory was then modified to: Teachers have developed an understanding of creativity throughout their lives as cultural/historical experience. Teachers bring their conceptualization of creativity to their educational practice in myriad ways through their activity system, which may or may not align with theories of creativity as posited by researchers. A cross-case analysis was conducted, and the findings were presented using the research questions as a guide (Stake, 2006) with CHAT serving as a lens.
This research was submitted to and approved by the Colorado Multiple Institutional Review Board (COMIRB) for exempt research, submission ID 17-7838. There was one approved amendment (see appendices A and B).
Participants
The inclusion criteria for participants were such that they must be current preschool teachers employed at schools that were pedagogically different in focus. Exclusion criteria were as follows: elementary, middle, high school teachers, college instructors, retired PK-12 teachers. This population has been chosen as there is little research on the teachers’ conceptualizations of creativity and how this manifests in education. Teachers who are currently involved in varied preschool educational models are of interest as they were considered likely to offer insights on how to both teach creatively and teach for creativity as a result of their educational placement.
Teachers were contacted as potential participants via email following identification of possible participation through convenience sampling. Participants were provided with a postcard consent form (as per COMIRB request, see appendix C). There were three


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participants. One teacher is the founder, director, and educator of a forest kindergarten program that operates without a facility on public lands. Another teacher is training to be a preschool director, and is employed at a play-based, parent/teacher cooperative preschool that is located in a former house that has been remodeled into an early learning center. The final teacher is also a director of her arts-based preschool that is located in a community arts center that has access to a theatre, dance space, galleries, and a visual arts studio.
Role of the Researcher
According to Stake (2006), one of the most significant tasks in a multiple-case study is to demonstrate how a particular subject or issue manifests in different settings. Avoiding bias is always a concern for researchers (Creswell, 2013), yet for the case study researcher this is especially important, as we must know about the issue prior to research (Yin, 2014). Being prone to substantiating a “preconceived position” (Yin, 2014, p. 76) was mitigated through trying to find evidence to the contrary of the proposition. The researcher’s bias about creativity and disclosure of their experience in education was provided in the introduction to this thesis.
Multiple case study design follows replication logic (Stake, 2006). A theoretical proposition must be re-evaluated after each case, and if modifications are necessary, they must be made as, “without such redesign, you risk being accused of distorting or ignoring the discovery, just to accommodate the original design” (Yin, 2014, p. 61). Also, case study researchers run the risk of drifting away from the original propositions or reason(s) of inquiry to suit the data. To avoid these risks, the researcher frequently checked back to the original purpose of the study, and regularly checked for alternative explanations or rival theories (Yin, 2014). However, this was done in moderation, as Stake (2006) contends, emphasizing


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the original research questions too much may distract the researcher from identifying new emergent issues.
Interview and Observation Protocol
Participants were interviewed using a semi-structured interview guide (see appendix D). Participants were interviewed in a comfortable setting, either at the public library or in their school. Interview duration was no longer than one hour, and participants were recorded using a digital recording device with participant permissions granted. Notes were also taken with permission.
The interviews began with conversation around demographic information, leading into teacher training, and how they came to be at their current teaching assignment. Participants were asked about their definition(s) of creativity, and of their creative self. The discussions included how they experienced creativity in the past, from childhood forward. Teachers were asked how creativity was supported in their school, what was necessary for creativity to develop in students. They were also asked about their familiarity with creativity research. Participants were given the opportunity to add anything the researcher should be aware of, or what they thought the researcher should know before the interviews concluded.
In order to attain triangulation and support findings, collecting multiple sources of data was necessary (Yin, 2014), and typical data used in case studies was collected (Creswell, 2013). Observations of teachers working in their classrooms were conducted following approval from the school. Observations lasted one hour. No children were directly observed; attention was focused on the teacher at work. Data was collected via memoing (Johnson & Christensen, 2014), and diagrams of the classrooms were drawn showing teacher movement, furniture (if applicable), and material storage/access. Digital


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photographs were taken following verbal permission from teachers. Content of the images included student products, materials for student use (accessible and in use that day), and the classroom environment. No humans were photographed. These images helped to contextualize teacher interviews, and provided reference to the researcher in data analysis. Data Analysis
Interviews were transcribed into Express Scribe and participants were de-identified.
It should be noted that ‘data-dumping’ following the interviews and observations was employed. Creswell (2013) notes, “Data analysis is not off-the-shelf; rather, it is custom-built, revised, and “choreographed” (p. 182). Yin (2014) acknowledges that case study analysis is not completely developed within this type of research, but recommends to play with the data initially to get an overall sense of what one has collected. Diagramming, idea webs, mind-mapping are all valid ways that were used to visualize the emergent patterns or concepts. Data was analyzed in a spiral (Creswell, 2013) whereby the actions of data collection, memoing, reflecting, classifying, categorization, description, and making propositions (amongst others) were continually revisited and iterated upon in order to complete an analysis. This researcher engaged in this process as initial cases were built whilst overarching themes between the activity systems were compared and contrasted.
It must be noted that memos resulting from the initial case interviews tended to be the researcher’s own evaluation and reflected the researcher’s own personal biases towards creativity, early childhood, and education. Certain appraisals “crept in” and were akin to, “If I were the teacher, I would not do that, I would do this instead.” These memos were important as they allowed the researcher to clearly delineate between the researcher’s own presuppositions and the viewpoints and lived experience of the participants. Thus, in order to


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reach the participants’ experiences, the researcher acknowledged their own personal ideas, and then put them aside.
Two of the four general strategies that are recommended by Yin (2014) that were used to sort through data were: Relying on theoretical propositions as a top down organization, and the inductive strategy of starting at the ground and work upwards. These strategies are not mutually exclusive (Yin, 2014).
Following strategies, the researcher focused on explanation building as an analytic technique for the individual cases and the cross-case analysis. The iterative process that is inherent in explanation building is well suited to multiple-case studies (Yin, 2014), and it enabled the researcher to utilize a cross-case analysis to compare similarities and differences (Johnson & Christensen, 2014) and to make assertions about the cases when considered together (Stake, 2006). This explanation building is presented as a narrative, and the narratives are organized around the components of a CHAT activity system, which is appropriate for conveying the complexity of the development and application of creativity beliefs. Explanation building is appropriate for analyzing the data specific to this research, as Yin (2014) notes, “To ‘explain’ a phenomenon is to stipulate a presumed set of causal links about it, or ‘how’ or ‘why’ something happened” (p. 147). Validity was established using triangulation of multiple sources of data, clarification conversations with participants, and with participant member checks.


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CHAPTER 4 MANUSCRIPT
Overview
Creativity. An inherent human ability which allows us to adapt, improvise, grow, and evolve our cultures (Richards, 2007). Our culture often refers to young children for creative understanding (Glaveanu, 2011); the play, the wonder, the curiosity that is seemingly innate in our species. Creativity has been put forth as an essential 21st century skill that will drive the innovation economies forward (Florida, 2002). Indeed, it is creativity and innovation that is requisite for humans to solve the world’s most pressing issues (Sawyer, 2006). As such, there is a recognized need for creativity to be sufficiently addressed in current educational systems to nurture the creative endeavors of future generations (Jeffrey & Craft, 2001). An appropriate starting point is to investigate early childhood contexts as the beginnings of formal educational careers are highly impactful on students' development and future learning. (Campbell, Ramey, Pungello, Sparling, & Miller-Johnson, 2002).
As educational reform advocates are pressing for creativity in schools, the purpose of this study was to explore how teachers formed their conceptualizations of creativity and to consider how these understandings manifest within their teaching practice. Teachers places of work were seen as activity systems, using cultural historical activity theory (CHAT) as a lens to view creativity in action according the teachers conceptualizations. This research contributes to the literature by addressing gaps, as little is known about life experiences contributing to creativity (Hondzel & Hansen, 2015), and this study goes beyond a comparison of teacher versus researcher creativity definitions. The guiding research questions were as follows: How did the concept of creativity develop for these teachers?


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How do teachers conceptualize creativity? And in education? And finally, how do teachers’ beliefs about creativity influence and moderate their educational practice?
The Culture of Creativity and Schools
In a current educational climate of standardization and high stakes testing, the alarm bell rings over decreased opportunities for creative development (Robinson, 2015).
American children have been found to score lower in tests of creativity as of late (Kim,
2011) , and there is a decreased amount of time children spend playing (Belknap & Hazier, 2014). Although testing creativity is rife with challenges (i.e. predictive validity or additional cognitive variables) (Treffinger, 2003), and that imagination levels of children, despite decreased play time, have increased (Russ & Dillon, 2011), these findings still frame the culture of practice for American preschool teachers in an educational and political period whereby funding, resources, access, and the very Department of Education is up for dispute. The impacts of academics-based preschool curricula versus play-based preschools is particularly salient given the push for more state-sponsored preschools. However, schools are not seen as particularly creative places, and are often detrimental to creative development (Robinson, 2015; Sternberg, 2007). Still, creativity can be nurtured within standardized curricula given appropriate supports, time, and dedicated effort (Beghetto ,J. C. Kaufman, Baer, &, 2015).
Literature Review
Creativity research has tended to be adult-centric (Glaveanu, 2011), whereby the most common, standard definition of creativity, while debated, remains that creativity must produce something that is both novel and appropriate (Amabile, 1996; Runco & Jaeger,
2012) . Early research into creativity, following Guilford’s 1950 address to the APA, focused


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on the creative individual and the innate characteristics that made their creativity possible (Amabile, 1996; Tanggaard, 2015). Much of this focused on the lives of eminent individuals whose work propelled science and culture forward (e.g. Gardner, 1993). Personality traits linked to creativity were noted as being driven, ambitious, self-confident, autonomous, introverted, and impulsive, amongst others (Feist, 1998). Openness to experience, a Big 5 personality trait, has been found to be more correlated to creative accomplishment than other personality traits, IQ, or divergent thinking scores (S. B. Kaufman & Gregoire, 2015).
Using the componential model of creativity, the social environment matters very much to creative development (Amabile, 1996). The systems model of creativity places creativity in the context of the three interconnected components of field, domain, and individual whereby the creator, creative act, and creative product are situated within the cultural rules and traditions that dictate what is novel and useful (Csikzentmihalyi, 2014).
Forms of creativity are varied. The Four C model of creativity places creative production on a non-linear development, ranging from the Big C creative eminence that change culture through little c creativity in the regular lives of people, which can also be seen in children (J. C. Kaufman & Beghetto, 2009). Richards’ (2010) everyday creativity can be seen as central to human survival, focused on both process and product, whereby personal, creative risk-taking offers possibilities and opportunities for tolerance. Current research suggests that creativity emerges from social groups and collaborative networks (Sawyer & DeZutter, 2009). Creative pathways provide a means whereby everyone can be considered creative as a part of an interconnected life (Tanggaard, 2015).
Play is considered essential for children, and is seen as beneficial to encourage curiosity, exploration, and creativity (Belknap & Hazier, 2014). Since the beginnings of


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early childhood education in the United States, creativity and play have been seen as interdependent features of the childhood experience. The Vygotskian view of childhood creativity is a transformative one; imagination is activated during play (John-Steiner,
Connery, & Marjanovic-Shane, 2010). Play has rules, based on the cultural/historical context of the child, and the child’s accumulated experience brings a richness to the imagination (Vygotsky, 1978). Pretend play also involves fantasy and make-believe (Russ & Dillon, 2011), and it provides time for the development of self-regulation, choice-making, and a sense-of-self (Belknap & Hazier, 2014). Young children also engage in worldplay (paracosms), which presents opportunity for discovery, absorption and persistence to tasks, synthesis of ideas, and modeling behaviors (Root-Bemstein & Root-Bernstein, 2006).
The research into creativity and play during the preschool stage is not without controversy, although play is seen as integral to healthy child development, there is disagreement concerning pretend play being necessary for creativity development (Lillard, Lemer, Hopkins, Dore, Smith, & Palmquist, 2013; Silverman, 2016). Developmental research does not maintain that teacher-directed lectures at sitting children beneficial for creativity (Lillard et al, 2013).
In order to support creativity development in children, Craft (2007) recommends a “dynamic interplay between children and teachers” (p. 236) that is a process consisting of: questioning, play, immersion in an environment clear of ridicule and criticism, innovation through knowledge construction, being imaginative, and taking risks with self-determination. Possibilities thinking, or asking “what if’ (Craft, 2007, p. 236) is at the core of creativity, whereby merely recognizing or labeling things is superceded exploration and is essential to problem finding (Craft, 2007). Creativity-supporting environments are inclusive of space


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and time flexibility, play and game-based approaches, appropriate material availability, knowledge of student needs, peer collaboration, and non-prescriptive lesson planning (Davies, Jindal-Snape, Collier, Digby, Hay, & Howe, 2013). Freedom and structure should be balanced to ensure learner autonomy whilst still respecting the need, and support for, appropriate risk taking (Davies et al., 2013).
In order to understand how teachers inform their instructional techniques, researchers must be aware of teacher’s beliefs of concepts and content (Belo, Van Driel, Van Veen, & Verloop, 2014). Teachers’ beliefs (implicit theories, attitudes, values, or conceptualizations) serve as a filter; their intentions and actions within the classroom are guided by their beliefs, and these change over time through experience and context (Fives and Buehl, 2012). A teacher’s beliefs about creative behaviors and theories held about creativity may influence their interactions with their students, or their attitude towards them (Westby & Dawson, 1995). Teachers may misinterpret creativity for “good behaviors”, those behaviors that may make an efficient classroom possible (Gralewski & Karwowski, 2013).
Considerable research into teachers perceptions on creativity have focused on a teacher’s implicit theory versus a researcher’s explicit theory (Aljughaiman & Mowrer-Reynolds, 2005; Mullet, Willerson, Lamb, & Kettler, 2016). There is an art bias held by some teachers; creativity is seen as primarily found in the arts or writing (Andilou & Murphy, 2010; Kampylis, Berki, & Saariluoma, 2009). An awareness of the detriments to creativity (e.g. drill work) has been expressed by teachers, but they have had to rely on their own intuition to teach it, describing a creativity-enhancing classroom as open-ended without imposing too many rules (Fleith, 2000). Teachers have been found to value creativity, but


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often cannot nurture their students’ development of it due to curriculum needs and assessment preparation (Andilou & Murphy, 2010; J. C. Kaufman & Beghetto, 2009). Purpose of the Study and Research Questions
The purpose of this study was to understand how teachers have conceptualized creativity, and to explore how they bring their implicit beliefs about creativity into their varied early childhood learning environments. The research questions asked how teachers conceptualize creativity, how teachers developed their creativity beliefs, and how these implicit understandings about creativity manifest within their teaching practice.
Method
Sample
The sample was comprised of three participants who were current preschool teachers employed at schools with different pedagogical foci. These teachers were selected as there is a gap in the literature in how teachers’ conceptualizations of creativity, within varied educational contexts, manifest in their teaching.
One teacher is a director of a new arts-based preschool that operates in a community arts center that consists of a dance space, galleries, theatre, and a visual arts studio. She has an undergraduate degree and has completed some master’s coursework. The second teacher is a founder, director, and teacher of a forest kindergarten program that uses public lands in all types of weather in lieu of a formal facility. She has an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree. The final teacher is in the process of becoming director certified in a play-based, parent/teacher cooperative preschool that has operated for many years, located in a former residence that has been remodeled into an early learning center. She also has an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree.


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Research Design
This study used a multiple-case study design as an in-depth understanding and analysis was required to explore teachers’ conceptualizations and to compare and contrast across cases how teachers’ creativity beliefs manifested in the classroom. This qualitative approach utilized interviews, observations, photographic documentation, and follow up conversations to create detailed accounts of teachers’ creativity beliefs and practices.
The initial theoretical proposition should be re-evaluated after each case in order to avoid distorting discoveries to adapt findings to the original design (Yin, 2014). To avoid the risk of drifting away from the original proposition, the researcher continuously checked back to the original purpose of the study, and checked for rival theories or alternative explanations (Yin, 2014). The original proposition for this research was that: Teachers have developed their understandings of creativity as influenced by their experiences, and they bring these conceptualizations in different ways, which may or may not align with the explicit theories developed by researchers. The refined proposition was that teachers have developed their conceptualizations of creativity within their cultural/historical context(s), and these understandings are evident in their activity systems, which may or may not be aligned to theories of creativity as advanced by researchers.
Procedure
Participants were recruited via email and their schools gave official permission to the university for the research to occur. The teachers were informed at the beginning of the interview that this research was not to be evaluative, that their confidentiality was assured, and that they could leave the study at any time for any reason. Although students were present during class visits, they were not explicitly studied through interviews or direct


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observation. Individual interviews with teachers were completed within one hour, and observation duration was hour. Follow-up conversations were conducted to verify themes and clear up understandings. Photographic documentation included student work, materials and tool, classroom environment, and were absent of human subjects.
Based on the work of Vygotsky, continued by Leontiev, and further developed and organized by Engestrom (1987), the second generation of cultural historical activity theory (CHAT) was used as a theoretical lens. Humans are not passive participants in their world (Yamagata-Lynch, 2010); this research considered the interconnected components of the activity system to interpret influences on the individual within the cultural/historical milieu. The social construction of knowledge, formed from history, culture, intentions, and tools used in everyday experiences, contributes to meaning-making from within the activity (Jonassen & Roher-Murphy, 1999). Salient to this line of research, Hakkarainen (1999) notes that within an activity system, “The adult’s own play experiences influence which play themes are selected and how they are set up and guided” (p. 247).
The activity systems, as units of analysis, were the individual preschools, plus the object motives for each activity system. The object motive varied for all three teachers; creativity was the object, or “thing-to-be-acted-upon” (Foot, 2004, p. 333) and is the reason why individuals choose to be in said activity (Yamagata-Lynch, 2010). The community of significant others, or people who engage in the activity system to attain the object, divide their labor towards the object, and use tools (language or materials) using rules specific to the activity system (Foot, 2004). The activity system is highly interdependent, and the subjects (teachers) actions towards the development of creativity will be viewed with an emphasis on tools and rules to understand how they conceptualize creativity.


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Interview Protocol
Participants were interviewed in person using the same semi-structured interview guide as a basis for discussion at a comfortable, public location. Multiple-case studies use a replication logic (Stake, 2006); the questions were open-ended and were based on exploring how teachers viewed creativity. Questions considered how creativity was supported or hindered during their lifespan, views of children being creative, creative processes, and products. Background information regarding their training and their current school placement allowed the researcher to attain knowledge into their personal theories and practices. The guide was partially based on themes emergent from the literature, and the researcher’s first-hand knowledge of creative processes within education. Participants were given the opportunity to add anything they considered important to the study, and all offered additional information of personal import.
Data Analysis
Interviews were transcribed using secure software. Data from interviews were coded within individual cases using the components of CHAT; cross-case analysis utilized the emergent themes and these were organized using the research questions. Themes emerged from the data in a spiral fashion (Creswell, 2013), and the researcher relied on diagramming, idea webs, and the CHAT triangle to systematize the separate activity systems, and for crosscase analysis. Data analysis was iterative; the initial proposition was continually revisited to build individual cases whilst allowing for new discoveries to be made. Memos served to bracket oneself against personal biases held about child development and the creative process; these were set aside, yet were key to listening and describing the lived experiences


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of the participants. Explanation building (Yin, 2014) was the analytic tool which allowed the formation of assertions about the collective cases (Stake, 2006).
Findings
The following case studies are presented as a narrative around the components of the CHAT activity system. A cross-case analysis shall follow, organized using the guiding research questions. Names of the schools have been changed, and pseudonyms have been utilized for the subjects. Note that only teachers-as-participants were studied; the CHAT activity system is inclusive of communities of significant others, who serve roles of consequence in the system through division of labor, which is organized around the object-motive. In the following cases, the communities consist of co-workers, administration, board members, parents, and children. What is presented here in regards to communities comes from participant interview data and direct observation of the participants only.
Case-Study Analysis Allie
The subject of the ForestSchool activity system is Allie, who has been teaching for 11 years, began this program two years ago after being dissatisfied with extant preschool offerings for her own son. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education, and a master’s degree in environmental education. Allie was drawn to teach in early childhood because of “their enthusiasm for just life and learning,” and is passionate about the European forest kindergarten model; she began the ForestSchool as a way to combine her love of teaching with her love of nature. This is her object motive, and creativity development through free play is central to this.


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As a child, Allie often pretended she was a teacher during her play, and she spent a great deal of time hiking mountains and exploring the outdoors with her father. She speaks highly of the time she spent in free and imaginative play, and finds that her experiences with that helped shape her creativity development. Allie remembers, “As far as creativity, like drawing or painting, I always really loved it, but I was discouraged because I was told I had to be perfect” and that she struggled with writing, she felt she was never as good as her older sister was. She recalls a time when her own clay piece was held up as an exemplar to her first grade class, she thought, “it was really beautiful but there’s no way it could be mine because it was good... and it was!” As an adult learner in graduate school, Allie learned about nature journaling, and relates that she struggled with the process of sitting for an hour each day to write or draw, “I almost didn’t know what to do when we first started... I needed this clear expectation of what she (her professor) needed... but then at the end of the three weeks, I loved it!”
Allie’s school operates without a formal facility, and holds classes on public lands in all types of weather. The activity system’s community of significant others consists of students, their parent(s) or caregiver(s), co-teachers, and a board of directors. Parents attend the preschool classes with their child, as the program is currently unlicensed as a state-approved preschool. Parental involvement in the classes ranges on a continuum from sitting to the side or being actively involved in each moment of their child’s play. Co-teachers divide the labor of teaching, and students are very much in charge of their own direction for learning as they explore the natural environment with their classmates.
The tools for this activity system consist of everything found in their immediate natural environment, scientific tools for inquiry, gardening tools, books, paints, or drawing


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media. The students’ attire is also considered an important tool for this system; in all types of weather, the students must be prepared and take care of their bodies so as to engage in learning. Waders, boots, waterproof mittens, sun hats, and other hiking clothing is mandatory for the students access to nature exploration.
The rules concerning tool and language use are centered around awareness and free-play within nature. Allie, and the community, explicitly teach about wild animal tracks, sign, and safety if wild animal encounters occur. Allie scaffolds the free play by helping students learn to their own boundaries. This is exemplified in climbing (e.g. rocks or trees); the students direct their own explorations, but Allie and her co-teachers are there to spot them and teach them how to climb safely. Allie explicitly contends that this appropriate risktaking skill is what helps build the students’ confidence, “just by giving them the freedom to fully explore and be who they are.” The parents have fears about climbing, but the community has built trust; Allie paraphrases the parents with, “we’re just going to leave because it’s making us nervous,” and they leave the children with the teachers.
Allie speaks of how she scaffolds new students into the play of her school gradually, as the new students are used to being “entertained” by adults, and she needs to help them take initiative in their awareness and play. She may do this by modeling certain exploring or making behaviors (e.g. pressing leaves into mud), or by enlisting the help of the community of multi-aged children who will draw the students into their play. The following statement demonstrates how rules, division of labor, tools, and the community work towards the object of creativity, by the end of the first month of attendance,
They’re creating their own games or being involved with the other kinds in imaginative play, and with that comes sparks for creativity, which shows up later in their journals, in their writing, in their poems... making that village, they make shops,


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they’ll make little mud balls or mud cakes... so they’ll spend that time designing it, working together. -Allie
These villages made by students are left on the public lands and are returned to for many weeks by the students so that the paracosms continue to evolve over time. The students also have nature journals, Allie provides tape and glue for them to collect and save their treasures, and to document their learning. Allie and her co-teachers encourage the students to write in the journals whenever they need or want to; the parents have reported that the students have grown to love their nature journals so much that they insist on taking them everywhere they go.
The rules for language use in supporting curiosity and imagination through free-play extends to the common practices of labeling objects or providing step-by-step instructions. Allie is cautious in how she explains things to students so as to allow for children’s discoveries to lead learning; they must experience things first. In an interaction during the observation, a parent was busily pointing out plant species by naming them to their child. When asking Allie how to pronounce “lichen,” Allie responded by modeling questioning strategies without labeling the fungus to both engage the child in higher-level thinking and to provide the parent with a possible script as a division of labor in child-parent learning. Questions included, “Can you tell me what it looks like? How does it feel? What sort of texture does it have? Why do you think it grows there, on this rock?”
Beth
Beth, as subject, came to her current placement at PlaySchool after serving on its board once her own children completed preschool there. She has been teaching for six years, is training to become director certified, and continues her education through community college courses for certification purposes and due to interest. Both of her undergraduate and


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master’s degrees are in philosophy, although Beth began her formal academic career with
interests in math and physics. Her curiosity led her attention to theory, “it was kind of a
progression from science toward what we ought to do in our lives,” and her considerations
included environmental ethics and, eventually, educational ethics. Growing up as the
daughter of two political science professors, “a characteristic of my household was one
where there was a lot of discussion” during mealtimes and when friends would visit. As a
teenager unfamiliar with politics, Beth describes a certain freedom from parental-directed
goals for her, “I think that they kind of left me alone then, to kind of do what my own thing
was,” and as her father dropped her off at college he said, “you know, I just want you to take
courses you’re interested in.” In speaking of her creative self, Beth explains,
I think in terms of openness, in terms of information, in terms of perspective... I don’t want to rush into a judgment and I think that if I try to pin something down that’s when something can go wrong in a particular perspective... and so for me to be creative, that means I can actually be open to a lot of possibilities. -Beth
The object motive for Beth can be found in her passion for educational ethics; creativity is an
important part of her activity system. She asserts,
So educationally, I think it’s more important to build up what it means to be a human being and that means that it’s not necessarily for a specific purpose but that it can be adaptable for a variety of purposes... but it has to be open and it has to be relevant to the human being that they are. -Beth.
Beth was drawn to work at the preschool, as she viewed what the teachers were doing was right for education. She worries about the impacts of didactic, teacher-led curriculum, and finds that the work done at PlaySchool, “was not understood by most people... it seemed to be a minority perspective in terms of what’s good for children” and that the right kind of education needs to take into account the viewpoint of the child.


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The tools for PlaySchool include materials and language use. Classes are held in English, with some Spanish spoken during group times or with parents. The school is housed on a large lot with room for outdoor play; in lieu of a formal play structure, there is a sizable sand pit with modular climbing apparatus that offers flexible use of space. The school itself is a former house, remodeled into an early learning center. An extensive inventory of materials have been accumulated over the years; found and recycled objects, paints, drawing media, homemade playdough are regularly used. Considerable variety exists in blocks, these may be used for child-led numeracy, or for construction of spaceships, stages for performances, or anything the children need for their pretend play. There is a library, collection of musical instruments, real and pretend kitchen, dolls, and materials for scientific inquiry all accessible for children’s use.
The community of significant others includes John and Yvette (director and teacher, and director emeritus) whom Beth teaches with, the students, parents (who co-op within the class), and a board of directors. Beth interned at PlaySchool for two years before becoming a teacher; John and Yvette mentored her apprenticeship closely, advising her on what to observe in the classroom and how to interact with students during their play and engagement with materials. Weekly meetings were held whereby they would discuss the possibilities for children interacting with the materials. It was during this time that Beth learned the rules of PlaySchool; how to use materials, how to use language for possibilities.
Beth explains how materials, language, and rules for their use in children’s creativity development with,
The idea is that there are children interacting in a situation where there are some materials, whether its sand or its beans or its blocks, art, and so you have to take a look at that in the moment activity and what is being done and what is being said and how the physical space is arranged, and you’re doing that, and also removing


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obstacles... I don’t want to interact with a child in a way that is going to limit their creativity. -Beth
Beth explains that language may hinder or help a creative response, and that she does not want to rush in. The rules of language, and of possibilities, are of utmost importance to the curriculum. She actively considers the perspective of the child from myriad angles before speaking. When asked how she decides to remove an obstacle for a child (i.e. they do not want to get wet), she listed many things that considered the thoughts of the child from a compassionate lens (e.g. the child loves their shirt, or the child had a bad experience with being wet). Beth is highly aware of the impact her words may have, and when she feels as if she has misinterpreted a situation, she actively “plans her retreat” so that she does not inhibit their play further. She does not want to limit curiosity and exploration, but also asserts that play is not a “free-for-all” and that while a play-based approach is important, “it needs to be qualified... you have to have knowledgeable teachers... they know theory on their own, they’re not applying someone else’s curriculum but creating their own.”
Division of labor is exemplified with, “I have certain ideas, but I don’t want to impose my ideas, that’s not learning for them.” Beth also sets up woodworking for children with appropriate safety precautions, children use real hammers and real nails, demonstrating a trust in children to do their own work safely. Beth helps children develop technique in their play and in their making as a way for the children to access further learning (i.e. a certain pattern of tower building after multiple failures, if they need it, or application of glue). Beth makes sure that children’s constructions (i.e. a rocketship) are left up for the duration of the children’s paracosms, and she utilizes the space flexibly to allow for this to happen. Further, the community of parents who co-op are given opportunity to learn these rules for possibilities thinking through parent meetings; videos of children interacting with materials


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and each other are viewed while suggestions for engagement are offered using the theories of Piaget, Vygotsky, amongst others.
Catherine
As a subject, Catherine is the teacher and director of a new preschool, operating its
first year out of a new community-based arts center. Her teaching pathway was not very
direct; her undergraduate degree is in languages, Spanish and French, and completed some
master’s coursework, but she does further her education through continuing education credits
that she is interested in. She came to her preschool after traveling and exploring secondary
teaching, but ultimately decided that teaching younger kids was a good fit for her. Prior to
being at ArtSchool, she taught in an unlicensed, play-based preschool, and has worked
extensively within her community teaching art, and was involved in her church.
As a child, Catherine was the youngest of a large family, and the children did not
receive a lot of direction in regards to creativity. She said,
“my parents just didn’t have time, to kind of say, ‘oh here’s a bunch of stuff and do that’... just, like, figure it out. I think that my siblings and I did, we were all creative in our own ways.”
In middle school, Catherine had the opportunity to major in art, and she was exposed to many new processes and explored materials. In speaking of her creative self, she admits,
“I like novelty to be honest with you,” and while she does not consider herself a talented visual artist, she does enjoy trying “a lot of different things” and uses her free time to explore building with new materials (i.e. cement, wood, paint).
The object motive for Catherine is the implementation of an arts-based preschool, and fostering creativity is a significant aspect of this; she was attracted to the freedom and autonomy of beginning a program. Catherine views creativity as inherent in art and art-


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making. To do this, Catherine is working to create an environment that is unlike a traditional preschool where “all projects look exactly the same, where each bead needs to go in a specific spot.” She has a grandson that attends a mainstream preschool, and she does not like how he must complete work where he is expected to color within the lines, and do adult-directed work with a “prescribed expectation of what they do.”
The community of significant others in this system consists of the children, the parents, employees of the art center, and a local art museum; Catherine teaches alone to a small group of children. Catherine takes classes at the art museum, and the instructors give lessons and ideas in how to teach math and science creatively. Catherine also visits local preschools for ideas. The dance teacher at the center takes the children once per week for lessons, and she gives them stickers for doing a good job. The art center director operates the new facility with a limited budget; the preschool classroom is a multi-purpose room, and as such, the preschool materials need to be stowed each night. The children’s art making and craft projects are up on the walls, but the walls do need to be kept as neutral as possible. The parents do enjoy art projects that come home (and often expect a product), but feedback has suggested that they want a more academic, rigid program.
Catherine’s use of tools within the activity system consist of language and art materials, along with a flexible use of space. The outside area for the children is a non-landscaped field of local weeds and grasses, and the director and Catherine hope to add a play structure, musical instruments, and an interactive fence with a chalkboard, knobs, and string for design making so that the kids have more opportunities outside. The materials (tools) within the classroom consist of paints, paper, scissors, drawing media, water table, blocks, play tent, dolls, transportation toys, craft items, and books, amongst other things.


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Rules tie directly into tool utilization. Catherine teaches using a mixture of Spanish
and English as part of the school’s foundational goal to be inclusive of language use.
Catherine finds that hearing things in other languages helps develop creativity as it exposes
the child to something new, and requires one to think differently about things while
providing opportunity to be more observant to cues.
They have to get creative with how they do that (communicate) because it’s not the normal ‘hey get over here’ you know? They have to come over and it’s usually more physical cues to engage them. -Catherine.
Catherine is keen to advocate for an openness to how the children go about their
activities; the work of the children is largely centered around extensive material offerings. In
a class of six students, the class had a construction area, a literacy center, and five tables with
separate offerings for activity which included water table with plastic ducks and real leaves,
lego, beads and chenille stems, small figurine toys, and a number match-up activity. The
students had asked for more scissor use, so Catherine has a cart with scrap paper, drawing
media, and scissors available at all times. She mentioned,
“I decided I needed to have that out everyday because that’s what they want to do, I don’t want to say, ‘no, we’re not doing that today.’ If they have that urge to do it, I want them to be able to follow it.”
Catherine moves around her room, visiting each child for a few minutes at a time. Common repeated comments from Catherine are, anything you want or what do you think? She has themed activities aimed at numeracy or literacy, but if a child takes the activity into a new direction (i.e. instead of matching quantities for number sense the child discovers area with the materials), she lets them be. Catherine must flexibly use her space as it is a multipurpose room; after each session, materials must be stowed for other classes.


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Cross-Case Analysis
There is significant overlap between a teacher’s development of a creativity conceptualization, and how it influences their practice due to the interrelated nature of activity systems. This cross-case analysis endeavors to organize the themes around the three guiding research questions whilst recognizing this inherent overlap.
Development of Creativity
It emerged from the data that a teacher’s lifetime experience and development of their
creative self helped frame their conceptualization of it. The prior experiences of the teachers
were striking in that their current practices reflected their stories from their lifespan. This is
offers alignment to CHAT activity systems whereby people bring their cultural/historical
experience into the systems. Allie brought her passion for nature into schooling by starting
the ForestSchool, which is a clear reflection of her pretend play and exploration of the
outdoors during childhood. Beth was provided opportunity to explore her own interests as
she grew up, and she brings her experience of in-depth family discussions and possibilities
thinking into how she interacts directly with children. Catherine enjoyed an openness and
freedom to explore various media free from an adult agenda, and she aims to bring this into
her art making classes by providing ample materials.
CHAT activity systems exemplify the idea that we are what we do in everyday life, as
situated within our cultural/historical context. The preschool activity systems continue to
develop the creativity and learning of these teachers. Allie noted how her definition of
creativity has changed as a result of her practice,
My natural reaction, before starting this (school) would have just been art, like painting, pottery, different various parts of art, but I think that after starting this forest kindergarten, creativity can happen all over. -Allie


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Beth noted that she came to work at PlaySchool with a knowledge of how her own children developed, but as she worked with her mentors, she asked herself, “how do I change so that I know something about how all learn and develop?” Catherine, upon reflecting on her first year as a new director, spoke of starting a program and licensing with, “it was a challenge!... it’s a whole new arena for me.”
Definitions and Conceptualizations of Creativity
None of the teachers were familiar with researchers’ explicit theories or standard definitions of creativity in regards to the appropriateness requirement, nor were any of them explicitly taught about creativity in their undergraduate education. Creativity was explicitly covered during graduate work, continuing education units, and during internships. Beth thinks of “creativity in terms of using materials and thoughts and expression in new ways and in new purposes that people, other people haven’t.” Allie paused, and said, “I think creativity involves a lot” before giving examples of how her students behave and produce creativity in her school. Catherine explained that,
I think it’s being able to think and produce without boundaries, without limits. It’s a freedom, I think this sense of being free to express and explore in a way that doesn’t feel limited or inhibited is important... is a necessary component. -Catherine.
Teachers viewed the creative process as directly related to play, exploration, and
openness. While they all have their own rules for language use, there are striking similarities
to how the teachers view creativity as integral to play, and vice versa. Allie notes she holds a
working definition of creativity, but that “imaginative play... is vital for creativity” and that
“creating things out of sticks and the natural things in their environment” nurtures creativity
development as students are making and doing with what they have. Catherine views
creativity as inherent in art and art making, she is keen on exposure to many materials and


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having students lead their discoveries with the media available. Beth also speaks of openness, and of having materials to manipulate, but also notes that, “there is some element of technique that they might need help with in terms of not becoming overwhelmed with what’s around them, and helping them to focus their own attention.”
The creative production output by the children is closely related to the creative process for these teachers. At ArtSchool, Catherine finds activities for the children to engage in that are centralized around a theme (e.g. weather, Dr. Seuss). The children engage in product making; she will only offer an exemplar if students ask, and usually teaches the project process through spoken language. One product observed was a stuffed paper cloud; the students could construct and paint the cloud with her verbal guidance. At ForestSchool, Allie relates how the students constructed an entire village (complete with shops and products, and an entire government system) out of found, natural materials. At PlaySchool, Beth spoke about the stories that emerged from the students’ drawings that were highly personal to the child; the stories and drawings helped the child make sense of their lives and were authored into their self-constructed books. Yet all teachers valued the process over the product in varying degrees.
Children’s creative behaviors and traits as described by teachers are very much dependent on the processes and object motives for the schools. Beth speaks of an “openness to perspective” in children’s conversations and views curiosity as part of this; she also spoke of creative children approaching materials with an attitude or approach to explore possibilities, without necessarily accepting the first iterations as complete. Allie views children being creative when they “create with the materials that they have, with just what’s around them.” Catherine echoes this with, “they think independently; they see materials and


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just situations in a that that might not be expected; they communicate their ideas well, not necessarily verbally... by showing, building.”
Manifestations of Creativity Across Activity Systems
In their teaching practice, each teacher believes that creativity is inherent within their pedagogical model. While each one of these teachers explicitly spoke of openness, freedom, exploration, and possibilities in relation to creativity as a concept, it is extremely important to note that this freedom is not haphazard, unsupervised, or random. The teachers all have rules with language and tools that moderate the open-ended nature of their creativity conceptualizations in practice. The creativity for the children, as facilitated by the teachers, indeed has direction. Each teacher provides a specific frame from which creativity might develop, both within themselves as director/teachers, and with their students in the ZPD. Allie’s ForestSchool does not provide exploration in a dance studio to develop creativity, just as Catherine’s ArtSchool does not provide the freedom to explore risk-taking during a rock-climbing session. There is direction in the type of freedom to be open-ended with materials and tools.
The cultural/historical influence of current educational norms has impacted the decisions of these teachers to teach where they do, and how they do. This is inherent in the object motives for the teachers. Each teacher expressed serious concern over the push down of academics to preschool aged children. In speaking of academic preschools, Allie finds that teachers approach learning with, “ ‘this is my objective, this is what you need to learn at this time,’ instead of letting them be curious about things... everything seems to be forced, instead of letting that natural curiosity just happen.” Catherine remarked that the arts in education are very important, and she sees great value in the arts as a “healthy outlet” for


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expression for “various types of learners”, but is underfunded. Beth explained, “just having a play-based school is something that is starting to be valued... there’s also people who are trying to push a lot of specific curriculum down into a preschool environment.”
The object motive for each teacher was creativity, but creativity as an integral component of their overarching pedagogical goal. Thus, while creativity was indeed important for each teacher, it was but one of many curricular factors within their schools.
Key themes which guided the teachers practice can be summarized succinctly for each teacher. Allie’s motive while teaching for creativity is access to free play, awareness, and exploration within nature, Beth’s motive is to carefully scaffold possibilities for learning and curiosity for an interesting world through play, and Catherine’s motive is to provide open-ended use of materials to create art in a multi-lingual environment.
All teachers vocalized and demonstrated a strong belief in the importance of social emotional learning (SEL), with Beth being a particularly strong advocate for attachment.
Ally describes the ForestSchool model as being particularly helpful in developing students’ self-esteem and greater self-confidence; teachers in mainstream kindergartens who teach Ally’s former students report that the students’ SEL development is at a third grade level in maturity. Catherine regards SEL as “foundational to the rest of our lives” and that “healthy communication” development is facilitated by the presentation of materials from which to create.
The teachers also were unanimously opposed to using extrinsic motivators (in the form of
gratuitous verbal praise or tangible awards) with their students.
I’m not huge on giving rewards... you want intrinsic learners, that’s ideal... I try not to put a value on things that they’ve done, and they’ll determine for themselves... I’m not big on saying ‘oh wow, that’s beautiful,’ I don’t think that’s actually good for them. -Catherine.


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So we don’t have rewards or punishments, and those can kill creativity for sure- you don’t want to have a child think that they need to complete an activity to please someone else, because, I mean, why do I care what they have shown me? They need to care about it themselves, and they need to be motivated on their own to discover and learn. -Beth.
As each teacher has brought their own histories with creativity and their lifespan experience into their activity systems; how creativity is manifested within their systems is also influenced by their teaching practice within their system. A key point however, is that the object motive (to nurture creativity through their own pedagogical lens) would not be possible without the activity system; the community and the division of labor sanction and promote each subject’s manifestation of creativity, as based on their conceptualization that developed over the lifespan.
Discussion
Strengths and Limitations
This research is important in that it does not deliberately maintain a strict definition of creativity, nor does it evaluate teachers’ practices. This study sought to understand how creativity was formed for individuals who hold a valuable role in the intellectual, emotional, and creative development of young children.
A limitation to this study was that it came from a seeming monocultural lens within mainstream United States. The participants were White females, and while 84% of teachers in the United States are White (Hrabowski & Sanders, 2015), the study is not representative of teachers’ voices from marginalized communities. The students, while not explicitly studied, attend non-profit preschools that do not rely on public early-childhood educational funds for operational costs; sliding scales are available for low-income families in one of the schools. However, only a small percentage of students within this particular state are eligible


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for state-funded preschool access. Furthermore, creativity, as studied cross-culturally, impacts how creativity is conceptualized and actualized (Tsai, 2012); the majority of creativity research thus far has been from a Western viewpoint. Finally, this research could have been strengthened by utilizing the entirety of the CHAT activity system by interviewing, observing, and documenting all members of the community of significant others.
Implications for Practice and Research
Future research is necessary to investigate how children are developing their creativity processes within the varied educational contexts as presented in this research. A focus on the collaborative nature of children’s work, and the improvisational actions of teachers based on the work of Sawyer (2009) could provide a lens to the ZPD space where creativity development actively happens.
For practice, policy makers and educationalists are advocating for the promotion of creativity within the classroom. There is also a current debate in the United States for “school choice.” The educational contexts presented here offer a view into how creativity is practiced by experienced teachers using various pedagogical approaches. The complexity of their teaching practices during these complex times are important to understand, and their practices are critical to value during a time when listening to the varied, rich experiences of people’s ideas and passions has never been more consequential as we try to solve the world’s great challenges.
Conclusion
This research investigated the creativity conceptualizations and manifestations thereof of preschool teachers working in a variety of educational contexts. The schools, as activity


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systems, were studied. The teachers-as-subjects, and their communities of significant others, had specific pedagogical lenses which included the development and support of creativity as object motive. These motives framed the creativity practices for the activity systems. These systems, focusing on individual teachers as influenced by their cultural/historical experience, were presented as individual case studies; their prior experience with creativity appeared to influence their conceptualizations. A cross-case analysis followed to answer the guiding research questions.
The findings presented that these teachers conceptualize creativity with a focus on openness, freedom, exploration, and possibilities, without an explicit mention of “appropriateness” as dictated by the standard definition of creativity. Their conceptualizations though, are continuously evolving through their activity systems. The teachers’ manifestations of creative practices within their systems demonstrated that the process and products of creativity were guided by tools (materials), and rules highly integrated with, and exemplified by, their strong beliefs in what constitutes appropriate early childhood education. Their activity systems allow for this to happen. These practices are inclusive of play and open-ended experiences that are scaffolded according to the teacher’s pedagogy, which has been shaped by their experiences and reactions to their cultural/historical environment. Therefore, the appropriateness, or useful, component of creativity is evident in how teachers conceptualize and practice what they strongly advocate is good and just for developing minds.


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CHAPTER V GLOBAL DISCUSSION
Using activity systems is appropriate for investigating a construct as complex as creativity. Creative behaviors, products, processes, and the conceptualizations of such as they emerge through the lived experiences of teachers was studied. While there are many explicit theories of creativity, there is room for growth in our understanding of how young children engage in creative development. Just as there are myriad understandings of creativity within the research literature, there are varied ways in which creativity is practiced by preschool teachers.
This research provides a window to view teacher’s perceptions, and gives a holistic view as to the reasoning behind their creativity practices in the classroom. This is important, to listen to teachers’ opinions and reasonings, especially in a time of great change.
Creativity, and teaching for it, is here to stay, and this human skill, of seeing things and doing things in new, innovative ways, will help us as a global society move forward and adapt, as we always have evolved, to the pressing challenges that face our planet.
What is salient for future work in creativity in education is that there is seemingly significant overlap with the teachers’ practices, (working outside of mainstream education) and of current creativity research: everyday creativity, pathways, and collaborative creativities. Subsequent research needs to further investigate the entirety of such activity systems, and to query the creative development of students within these contexts.
This research presents people, as influenced by their experiences both past and present, as active agents for implementing creativity through their strong motivations for educational alternatives. Their viewpoints and practices are important to listen to, and to


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learn from, during this time of great divide. As we work to collectively nurture innovators in the 21st century, who will help solve the world’s greatest issues, who will help heal our cultures, we must remember that creativity, as an inherent human capability that allows for our evolution, it is the children’s play, imagination, and curiosity that must be protected as a fundamental element of the human experience to develop fully. The research presented here provides a brief window into the lives and practices of those who are motivated, and actively working towards just that.


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Stake, R. E. Multiple Case Study Analysis. New York, NY: The Guilford Press
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Stetsenko, A., & Arievitch, I. M. (2004). The self in cultural historical activity theory: Reclaiming the unity of social and individual dimensions of human development. Theory and Psychology. 14 (4), 475-503. doi: 10.1177/0959354304044921
Tanggaard, L. (2015). The creative pathways of everyday life. Journal of Creative Behavior. 49 (3), 181-193. doi: 10.1002/jocb.95
Treffinger, D. J. (2003). Assessment and measurement in creativity and creative problem solving. In J. Houtz (Ed.), The Educational Psychology of Creativity, (pp. 59-93) Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press
Tsai, K. C. (2012). The interplay between culture and creativity. Cross-Cultural
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van der Riet, M. (2010). [Mary van der Riet], (2010, September 2). An introduction to
activity theory (part 1). (video file). Retrieved from: https://vimeo.com/14632565
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Vygotsky, L. S. (2004). Imagination and creativity in childhood. Journal of Russian and East European Psychology. 42 (1), 7-97. doi: 10.2753/RP01061-0405290173
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Westby, E. L., & Dawson, V. L. (1995). Creativity: Asset or burden in the classroom? Creativity Research Journal. 8, 1-10. doi: 10.1207/sl5326934crj0801_l
Yamagata-Lynch, L. C. (2010). Activity Systems Analysis and Methods: Understanding Complex Learning Environments. New York, NY: Springer doi: 10.1007/978-1 -4419-6321-5
Yin, R. K. (2014). Case Study Research: Design and Methods 5th Edition. Los Angeles, CA: Sage
Zappe, S., Mena, I, & Litzinger, T. (2013, March) Creativity is Not a Purple Dragon. Paper presented at the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance 17fll Annual Conference, Washington, DC. Retrieved from: http://apps.nciia.org/sites/default/ files/features/conference/2013/papers/zappe.pdf


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APPENDIX A: UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO DENVER COLORADO MULTIPLE INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD (COMIRB) APPROVAL
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Certificate of Exemption
07-Mar-2017
Investigator: Erin Phi ip Eafcn
Subject: OGMRB Protocol 17 7838 totinJ Application
Review Date: 07-Mar-2017
Elective Date: 07-Mar-2017
Anticipated Completion Date: 06-Mar2020 Sponsorjs): No Sponsor-
ntie Teachers' Conceptualisations of Croetrvrty in Early Childhood Educate) rei Contexts
Exempt Category: 2
Submission I0: app
SUBMISSION DESORPTION:
Exempt application
Your COMIRB ksilJal submission app hae been APPROVED FOR EXEMPTION. Periodic continuing review is not required. For the duration of your protocol. any change in the experimental dedgntoortent^Mtaomei of this study must be approved by OOMFB bob re implementation of he changes
The anbopated completion dale of Ms protocol is 06-Mar-2020 COMIRB wil adrnnisf atrvoly dose this protect on the date unless othonwse instructed by e-mail to OOMIRB'Bucdonvor adu I the project e oompietod prior to this date please notify the COMIRB office in writing or by e-mail ones the project has been dosed


76
APPENDIX B: UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO DENVER COLORADO MULTIPLE INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD (COMIRB) AMENDMENT APPROVAL
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Unrversiy of Colorado Hospital DerM» Health Medical Carter Veteran's Admnneation Medical Carter Children's Hoaprtal Cobtado UrmarsAy of Colorado Denver Colorado Prevention Canter
Amendment Approval
12-Apr-2017
Investigator: Subject: Effective Date: Sponsor!a): THfe:
Erin Pttip Eaton
COMIRB Protocol 17-7838 Amendment 12-Apr-2017 No Sponoor-
Taachers’ ConceptueJuations of Creativity in Early Childhood Educaterei Contacts
Submission ID: pern
REQUESTED CHANGES:
sharing informafor from site
Your COMIRB Amendment aubmlealon pern has been APPROVED FOR EXEMPTION. The chan gee included in this Amendment do not change the exempt determination for thia study.
The chargee requested in the REQUESTED CHANGES section above and outlined in the documents isted in the REVIEW DETALS section below have been approved
Pteese carotofy review the REVIEW DETALS section because COMIRB may have made rad-tine changes (i e. revisions) to the submitted documents prior to approving them. The investigator can submit an amendment to revise the documents if the investigator does not agree with the red-lhe changes The REVEW DETAILS section may ateo include important information from tie reviewer (s) and COMIRB staff.


77
APPENDIX C: INTERVIEW CONSENT
Study Title: Teachers’ Conceptualizations of Creativity in Early Childhood Educational Contexts
Principal Investigator: Erin Philip Eaton
COMIRB No: 17-7838 Version Date: 02/22/17
You are being asked to be in this research study because you are a preschool educator.
If you join the study, you will be interviewed for approximately 45 minutes and you will be observed in your classroom for approximately 1 hour.
This study is designed to learn more about creativity in education.
Possible discomforts or risks include discomfort in not understanding a question or hesitancy in asking for clarification, becoming tired from speaking for periods of time. Attending an interview may be inconvenient. Mild discomfort may arise due to being observed. There may be risks the researchers have not thought of.
Every effort will be made to protect your privacy and confidentiality by: de-identifying your personal information, using an encrypted computer, a secure server, and by deleting data from collection devices.
You have a choice about being in this study. You do not have to be in this study if you do not want to be.
If you have questions, you can call Ruben Viramontez Anguiano at 419-806-9179 You can call and ask questions at any time.
You may have questions about your rights as someone in this study. If you have questions, you can call the COMIRB (the responsible Institutional Review Board). Their number is (303) 724-1055.


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APPENDIX D: INTERVIEW GUIDE Semi-Structured Interview Guide
Background Information
-How many years have you been teaching?
-What was your teacher training (pathway)?
-Tell me about your teaching experience.
-What is your current position?
-What brought you to your current post?
On Creativity (self)
-What is your definition of creativity?
-Talk to me about your creative self.
-How was creativity supported for you growing up? (family, schooling)
-How was creativity hindered for you?
-Can you pinpoint a time when your creativity was shut down?
-Tell me about your teacher training... how was creativity addressed?
On Creativity in Schools
-Do you think creativity can be taught? (How so? Why is that?)
-What does the creative child do? What does that look like?
-About your current school, how is creativity supported there? Is it hindered in anyway? -Tell me about what motivators your school advocates.
On Components Necessary for Creativity
-What is necessary for creativity to develop in students?
What are your thoughts on:
-Observation
-Questioning
-Boredom
-Confusion/Frustration
What is your familiarity with creativity research or creativity theories?
Interview Complete.


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APPENDIX E. CULTURAL/HISTORICAL ACTIVITY THEORY DIAGRAM
Tools
(materials & language)
/ \
Subject
Objects
Outcome
/\/\
Rules
Community
Division of Labor
Note. Adapted from Engestrom, Y. (2015). Learning by Expanding: AnActivity-Theoretical Approach to Developmental Research. 2nd Edition. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press


Full Text

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TEACHERS' CONCEPTUALIZATIONS OF CREATIVITY IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATIONAL CONTEXTS by ERIN PHILIP B.F.A., University of Colorado Boulder, 2006 B.A., University of Colorado Boulder, 2006 A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Education and Human Development Program 2017

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ii This thesis for the Master of Arts degree by Erin Philip has been approved for the E ducation and Human Development P rogram by Ruben P. Viramontez Anguiano, Chair Katherine Goodman Patty Meek Date: July 29, 2017

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iii Philip, Erin (M.A. , Education and Human Development) Teachers' Conceptualizations of Creativity in Early Childhood Educational Contexts Thesis directed by Professor Ruben P. Viramontez Anguiano ABSTRACT Three preschool teachers working in varied early childhood educat ional contexts were interviewed and observed to examine their creativity conceptualizations, how these developed, and how these manifest with in their educational practice s . A multiple case study d esign was used; individual cases were organized using cult ural historical activity theory and the cross case analysis was ordered around the research questions. Conceptualizations were influenced by their cultural historical development; these ideas are b rought into their preschools as activity systems whereby creativity practices are also moderated by the tools/materials, and rules for such, within their school's pedagogical approach. This form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication. Approved: Ruben P. Viramontez Anguiano

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iv DEDICATION To all of my students, it has been an honor creating with you over the years. Keep dreaming, wondering, and making. Thank you for encouraging me to do the same.

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v ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Eva: You are the mightiest. You inspire me everyday. Thank you for being a part of my life. Now, pack your suitcase we have some exploring to do! Jordan: Thank you. I look forward to keep exploring the world with you. It still is about thawed chicken. Your support has carrie d me through these tough years. I love you. Mom: Thank you for getting me up at 4:30am all those mornings to get me to the rink , and not letting me give up. Yo u still don't let me give up, and keep me going Dad: Thank you for teaching me to think differently, for showing me good de sign , for telling me stories of uniÉ You continue to push me, and encourage me to keep thinking To my CU Denver thesis commit tee: Dr. Anguiano : Thank you for inspiring me to take on future academic endeavors, and f or all of the opportunities. Your words of wisdom stick with me Dr. Goodman: Thank you for challenging me ; our conversations about creativity and the experiences I had at inworks were fundamentally life changing Dr. Meek: Thank you for your support and guidance during this long journey! Your classes are legendary, and you continue to inspire me to work for change

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vi TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 1 Purpose of Study ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 2 Significance of the Study ................................ ................................ ...................... 4 Definitions and Terms ................................ ................................ ........................... 5 Personal Identification with the Topic ................................ ................................ .. 5 II. LITERATURE REVIEW ................................ ................................ .............................. 7 Creativity ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 7 The Standard Definition of Creativity ................................ ................................ ... 7 Creativity in Early Childhood ................................ ................................ ............. 13 Becoming and Being Creative ................................ ................................ ............. 22 Education and Creativity Culture ................................ ................................ ........ 23 Theoretical Lens ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 27 III. METHOD ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 32 Research Design ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 32 Participants ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 33 Role of the Researcher ................................ ................................ ........................ 34 Interview and Observation Protocol ................................ ................................ .... 35 Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 36 IV. MANUSCRIPT ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 38 Overview ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 38 The Culture of Creativity and Schools ................................ ................................ 39

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vii Literature Review ................................ ................................ ................................ 39 Purpose of the Study and Research Questions ................................ .................... 43 Method ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 43 Findings ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 47 Case Study Analysis ................................ ................................ ............................ 47 Cross Case Analysis ................................ ................................ ............................ 57 Discussion ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 62 V. GLOBAL DISCUSSION ................................ ................................ ............................ 65 REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 67 APPENDIX A: UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO DENVER COLORADO MULTIPLE ............. 75 INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD (COMIRB) APPROVAL .............................. 75 B: UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO DENVER COLORADO MULTIPLE ............. 76 INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD (COMI RB) AMENDMENT APPROVAL ... 76 C: INTERVIEW CONSENT ................................ ................................ ...................... 77 D: INTERVIEW GUIDE ................................ ................................ ............................ 78 E. CULTURAL/HISTORICAL ACTIVITY THEORY DIAGRAM ......................... 79 ! ! ! !

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1 CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION ! We all may be familiar with the feeling of surprise when noticing that three hours have gone by whilst we were so engaged in our task. Crunching numbers, painting, teaching, playing music; when a person is completely immersed in any of the se endeavors, th ey experience flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 2013). We get there when we are being creative. But what can creativity mean? This research aims to provide a view of creativity through a cultural historical lens, as experienced by preschool teachers who, as a resu lt of their own experiences with creativity, provide learning experiences for their own students. Some refer to creativity as the elixir of life, and it improves our well being. It is also seen as being highly therapeutic. To compliment someone on their creativity is generally seen as a positive remark (Sawyer, 2012). And yet, being different and engaging in divergent thinking are often pathologized in our society (Richards, 2010), despite our contemporary society's reverence for creativity (Saracho, 201 2). Creativity is an elusive concept to pin down; it has been notoriously difficult to define. Considered part and parcel of the human experience, creativity is considered by many to be inherent in childhood (Glaveanu, 2011), but it is believed that creative potential is stripped away during our development by the conformity demanded by schools (Robinson, 2015). Our educational systems have required compliance in order to produce efficient contributors to our economy (Guilford, 1950). Yet, we no lon ger require minds molded for factory line repetitive tasks. We are in the innovation economy (Chadnick, 2016). Our education system, in many respects, is training students for lives in the 20 th c entury, whereby creativity is left on the sidelines (Hondz el & Hansen, 2015). Furthermore, as problems

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2 become more complex in an interdependent global society, we will fundamentally require creativity and innovation to grapple with the urgent needs facing our species on a warming planet. Creativity has been put forth as an essential 21 st c entury skill (Eckhoff, 2011). The world over, policy makers, economists, and educational innovators recognize that students' creative potential is an asset to their nation (Beghett o, 2008; Hondzel & Hansen, 2015). And yet, sc hools have been traditionally seen as deleterious to creativity; the behaviors and habits necessary for creativity to be nurtured and developed are often hindered, if not squelched entirely (Sternberg, 2007; Robinson, 2015). Creativity is seen as a "fluff " skill and is undervalued in schools (Karwowski, 2010) so much so that engineering professors fail to see its worth in their curricula (Zappe, Mena, Litzinger, 2013), and educational psychologists have not paid it much attention (Plucker, Beghetto, & Dow 2004). Despite the extensive research and debates concerning the nature of creativity, whom may be creative, where creativity is, even the very definition of creativity, a common thread however, is that creativity does not exist in a vacuum. Creativity is embedded in culture, and the human mind is very much an active part of said culture, transmitting and receiving information as we develop. Purpose of Study The purpose of this study was to explore how teachers conceptualize creativity and how this man ifests in their teaching practice. How these beliefs about creativity were formed were also investigated. This research serves as a starting point for future work, and is important to the literature by providing elementary direction to Hondzel and Hansen 's (2015) observation that, "missing is a body of research that exposes the educational and life course

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3 experiences that contribute to human creativity" (p. 177). Furthermore, teachers who participated in this research teach in varied educational contexts (art center, forest kindergarten, play based school), and there is not much known about the differences in teachers' creativity perceptions across contexts (Mullet, Willerson, Lamb, & Kett ler , 2016). Specific to preschool teachers, the literature yields very little information regarding creativity beliefs and classroom practices. Creativity studies have usually focused on similarities and differences between teacher conceptualizations and th at of researchers (Saracho, 2012). Guiding Research Questions The initial proposition of this multiple case study was that: teachers have developed an understanding of creativity throughout their lives as influenced by their ecological system. Teachers b ring their conceptualization of creativity to their educational practice in myriad ways, which may or may not align with theories of creativity as posited by researchers. This was later revised, as per multiple case study methodology (Yin, 2014), to: teac hers have developed an understanding of creativity throughout their lives as cultural/historical experience. Teachers bring their conceptualization of creativity to their educational practice in myriad ways through their activity system, which may or may not align with theories of creativity as posited by researchers. The guiding research questions for this study are thus, • How do teachers conceptualize creativity? And in education? • How did the concept of creativity develop for these teachers? • How do teac hers' beliefs about creativity influence and moderate their educational practice?

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4 Significance of the Study ! As teachers have a fundamental role in the development of student's creativity within educational contexts (Kampylis, Berki, & Saariluoma , 2009) through curriculum delivery and through interactions, the positive or negative aspects of these may enhance or be detrimental to students (Leggett, 2017). As creativity can be fostered, teachers have a responsibility to make certain that students are encouraged in their creativity development (Rubenstein, McCoach, & Siegle, 2013; Leggett, 2017). The established research into the topic presumes that teachers may have "misconceptions" about the nature of creativity, and these biases, whether uni n for med or not, establish what is acceptable in terms of teaching for creativity, which in turn may manifest in obstacles to students' creativity development (Saracho, 2014). The research presented in this thesis considers the development and conceptualizatio n of creativity from the teacher's perspective. It seeks to honor that viewpoint as the manifestations of their own ideas, as situated in their cultural/historical experience, emerge in their teaching context. With education policies having been in flu x for the past decades, and with more seismic shifts on the horizon due to the results of the 2016 election as school voucher systems and looming promises of education privatization begin to materialize, researchers must get creative themselves and look fo r new angles and possibilities for nurturing creativity within our schools. This study is significant in that it offers a timely view on the lived experiences of teachers who have chosen to work outside of mainstream educational norms by creating their ow n educational environments as part of their vision for appropriate early childhood education.

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5 While creativity has been proposed as integral to advancing our collective global societies forward through economic growth, it remains that our species, and pl anet, is facing serious challenges that require urgent creative and innovative solutions. The gravity of our situation cannot be understated, and education plays a key role in addressing solutions. Definitions and Terms ! Classroom: Used to describe the educational context the participants teach in. Participants teach in: an art studio, a house, and on public lands (facility free). Conceptualization: Understandings that come from sensory experiences; the individual acts upon, defines them, and reflec ts on these understandings (Andilou & Murphy, 2010). Personal Identification with the Topic ! In order to understand the motive for this research topic, it is important to recognize the author's connection with creativity. I (Erin Philip) have been working in education reform for the last decade, both in the United States and in the U. A. E. Cent ral to my teaching practice has been the fostering of visual thinking, spatial reasoning, and creativity as key skills students need for critical thinking in the pursuit of social and environmental justice. I am a trained contemporary artist who works in the sculptural and performance realms, and bring in an anthropological and feminist standpoint to my work. My own working understanding of creativity follows Tanggaard's (2015) explanation, "Creativity involves doing something new possibly something unex pected and combining things in ways that diverge from that which already exists"(p. 190). Throughout my career in education, I have found that certain teaching and child rearing practices are inhibitory or deleterious to the development and nurturance to our students' creative potential. This project began with an implicit assumption that I might

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6 uncover what is going wrong in teacher s ' perceptions of creativity in order to provide avenues for change. Throughout the iterative process that is central to research project design, I began to see that indeed, there are extant practices within education that are beneficial to the fostering of children's creativity. Thus, I turned to early childhood education, and listened to teachers who were motivated by the ir own visions of appropriate preschool to see where they were coming from, and why they were informing their practices in the manner they were. As such, my original, implicit assumptions that framed the beginning of this study changed to a more positive outlook as I learned from teachers' views and contextualized experiences. We must be creative in order to tackle and solve the world's most pressing issues. Working to advance creativity development in children, and working to protect it, is my avenue for change.

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7 CHAPTER II LITERATURE REVIEW Creativity ! As uncovering teachers' conceptualizations of creativity is one of the aims of this research, an overview of the creativity research field is presented from myriad perspectives. This literature review also situates today's preschool teacher with in the context of a Western culture's understanding of creativity. Further, a brief review of teacher creativity beliefs shall provide a starting point for what is known and assumed about teach ers. The Standard Definition of Creativity ! The study of creativity in the United States has been extensive, and has been approached from many disciplines (Feldman & Benjamin, 2006). There are conceptual frameworks spanning lifetime development (e.g. Cohen, 2012), models of different types of creativity (e.g. J. C. Kaufman & Beghetto, 2009), evolutionary standpoints (Albert, 2012), personality factors (e.g. S. B. Kaufman, 2013), and cognitive approaches that focus on the process of creativity (e.g. Wal las, 1926). The standard definition of creativity, while still debated (Mullet, Willerson, Lamb, & Kettler , 2016), remains as the creation of a product that is both original and appropriate (Runco & Jaeger, 2012). Both components are contentious and r aise many questions worthy of inquiry. Novelty seems facile, yet begs the question, to whom is the creative product original? The creator of said artifact, or their audience? Appropriateness, or close approximations such as useful, valuable, or relevant, again elicit the pondering of, to whom? (Runco & Jaeger, 2012) The culture? And who decides this? The appropriateness factor is controversial because it can be argue d that the very ideas that push boundaries and help change paradigms are indeed inappro priate (at the time) according to mainstream beliefs

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8 (Amabile, 1996). As Kozbert, Beghetto, and Runco (2010) note, "to understand creativity in all of its richness, there is a need for moderation, where no one theoretical perspective is emphasized at the expense of others" (p. 20). The Creative Individual In 1950, Guilford addressed the American Psychological Association with an urgent call for researchers to focus more on creativity, and this event is considered by many psychologists to mark the beginni ng of an extensive tradition of creativity research (Feldman & Benjamin, 2006; Richards, 2007; Guilford, 1950). Earlier research into creativity was primarily focused on the creative individual , and what makes that person creative was considered an innate characteristic (Amabile, 1996, Tanggaard, 2015). Indeed, much creative research continues to investigate the "internal mental pr ocesses of specific individuals " (Sawyer & DeZutter, 2009, p. 90). Torrance's tests of divergent thinking (TTCT) and Guilford 's unusual uses t est are examples of myriad approaches to creative measurement (Amabile, 1996). Gardner (1993) investigated t he lives of eminent individuals: Freud, Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham, and Gandhi. By focusing on their moments of breakthroughs that were significant in terms of Big C type creativity (one of four types of creativity, to be elucidated in a later section ) , Gardner (1993) discovered that there appears to be a ten year rule, whereby creative people make breakthroughs following ten years of work in a given domain, and they may or may not make significant breakthroughs again in the following decades. Working in a time when cr eative personality traits were actively researched, a meta analysis by Feist (1998) found that "creative people are more autonomous, introverted, open

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9 to new experiences, norm doubting, self confident, self accepting, driven, ambitious, d ominant, hostile, and impulsive " (p. 299). Feist (1998) also noted differences between creatives in art versus science. Recent research involving the Big 5 personality traits (a highly researched personality trait model based on five factors) , S. B. Kaufman (2013) found that openness to experience was more correlated to creative accomplishment than other personality traits, IQ, or divergent thinking scores (S. B. Kaufman & Gregoire, 2015). Openness to experience, as a personality trait, involves exploration and engagement in aesthetics, intellect, and affect (S. B. Kaufman & Gregoire, 2015). The Social Environment A componential model of creativity was put forth by Amabile (1996) that situated creativity as a social psychology. Amabile investigated the detrimental effects of extrinsic motivators as placed on students from their social surroundings. This was a contextual approach; intrinsic motivation can be undermined due to the context and negatively impacts the creativity of students. It is a hydraulic model; as extrins ic motivators increase, intrinsic motivation decreases (Amabile, 1996). Amabile also put forth the consensual assessment technique (CAT), which enabled experts in creativity or a layperson's opinion to assess the creative products of school aged children (Amabile, 1996). This is an important distinction, as it demonstrates how culturally situated creativity is; creative products as consensually "approved" artifacts. To illustrate this point further, in her book written for parents, Growing Up Creative , A mabile (1989) gives the examples of children's work that meet the creativity definition. One child colored in a dinosaur coloring sheet neatly, but used a striping pattern of different colors to fill in the form. Another child, havi ng been given the dire ctive to write a paper on

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10 China, went ahead and wrote prose on fine china. According to Amabile (1989), the dinosaur coloring was resoundingly creative because the child colored within the conventions of the task while using their own personal flair. The China/china example was begrudgingly noted as creative, but controversially so, as the child deliberately used a play on words to break conventions and knowingly refused to fulfill her teacher's directive. Csikszentmihalyi (2014) asked not only what is creativity, but "where is creativity?" (p. 47) as creative individuals cannot be judged by their oeuvre in isolation; the social and historical context from which the work was constructed are just as important. Simply put, we must know what the maker was innovating from, as "without rules there cannot be exceptions, and without tradition there cannot be novelty" ( Csikszentmihalyi, 2014, p. 103), as creators never are acting alone, free from influence. The systems model of creativity (SMC) consists of three components; the field , the domain , and the individual , with all three systems interacting to make creativity possible. The field is comprised of social institutions and can be considered gatekeepers to culture; these players make up and hold the requirements necessary for the creative products inclusion for future generations. The domain consists of the ideas that will be transmitted to, and preserve d by, future generations. The individual is the person who brings about change in domain, as sanctioned by the field (Csikszentmihalyi, 2014). Relevant to the forthcoming discussion of whether or not children are indeed creative, i t must be noted that in terms of children's creativity, C sikszentmihalyi (2003) put forth that, It could be argued that children's spontaneous, original productions are indeed socially valued, because the children's mothers and teachers value them. In the restricted sense, one can indeed say that children are creative within the domain of children's art or what have you. But such domains are peripheral to every culture, except perhaps in developmental terms (it's good for the children to practice art, etc.), but the creativity of such productions is not very relevant. (p. 220)

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11 Forms of Creativity As a great deal of research on creativity has emphasize d greatness; a useful model to view and appreciate creativity in various forms is J. C. Kaufman and Beghetto's (2009) F our C model of creativity, developed to reduce the dichotomous thinking often prese n t in creativity research. The Four C model can be seen as a type of developmental trajectory, yet is not defined by age, nor is it to be viewed as rigidly stepped. A B ig C creator may have dabbled in Mini C to try out new avenues, and then skip P ro C alto gether. To illustrate the four c model: • Big C Creativity. This form of creativity represents the "creative greatness" (p. 1) of those who have driven culture, science, and society forward. This type of creativity can be studied and exemplified in the liv es of such people as Toni Morrison, Albert Einstein, or Marina Abramovi !. This line of research was employed by Gardner (1993). • Pro C Creativity. These are working professionals who may or may not be making a living off of their creative pursuits. They may remake a popular movie, or develop important software as to move their field forward incrementally, but not in leaps and bounds. • Mini C creativity. This form of creativity is where individuals may develop understandings and knowledge; the interpretations and insights experienced by a person during the creativity process are important. A person who is learning architectural techniques in AutoCAD is developing important creative abilities, but their technique and original to themselves ideas should not be compared to Zaha Hadid.

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12 • Little C creativity. This form of creativity can be seen in the everyday lives of people. Examples may inclu de: using leftovers to create something actually delicious, or fixing a scheduling conflict at one's workplace (J. C. Kaufman & Beghetto, 2009). To further our use of mini C creativity specific to this research, J. C. Kaufman and Beghetto (2009) note that, " all one has to do is spend a bit of time observing the creative insights expressed by young children in their daily activities of learning and play" (p. 4). For example, a child may want to be an intestine/police officer for Halloween. Fascinated by the inner workings of her body, while at the same time in awe of the officer who came to speak to her preschool class, she created something unique, and personally creative. Similarly, Richards (2010) put forth everyday creativity whereby creativity is foc used on both product and process , and is seen as "universal and central to human survival" (p. 194). Richards (2010) advocates for creative normalcy to counteract unhealthy social norms whereby being different is pathologized. Divergence requires toleran ce, and the products of such creativity, while involving a bit of "personal risk taking" (p. 200) can be healthy for individuals as it may offer a compensatory advantage. The everyday creative process requires being present so that authentic ideas and the possibilities of such may become apparent (Richards, 2010). Tanggaard (2015) also looks at everyday creativity, and refers to this process as creative pathways, whereby everyone can be considered creative, as creativity is part of an interconnected life. These pathways are not isolated within the mind of the creator, but are comprised of components from everyday life that have been recombined in new ways. This model of creativity is based on the potential that is present in everyday life, that which is " not

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13 yet there" (p. 185), but which cannot be firmly envisioned ahead of time. This relies on a certain improvisation as the person interacts with their surroundings, but their creative pathway carries a history. Creativity pathways are systems oriented, whereby mind and culture are interdependent (Tanggaard, 2015). Drawing from distributed cognition in cognitive science, contemporary research posits creativity as "embedded in social groups" (Sawyer & DeZutter, 2009, p. 81) whereby creative products manife st from the interaction inherent in collaborative networks. Drawing on research on improvisation, Sawyer (2006) defines distributed creativity as "situations where collaborating groups of individuals collectively generate a shared creative product" (Sawye r & DeZutter, 2009, p. 82). Gl " veanu (2011) refers to this as the "We paradigm" (p. 7) of creativity. Creativity in Early Childhood ! From the beginnings of formal early childhood education in the United States, play and creativity have been seen as tandem, interdependent features of a sound childhood experience. Preeminent voices in early childhood such as Froebel, Dewey, and Gesell, all advocated for creative play in some form or another (Feldman & Benjamin, 2006). For Vygotsky (2004), Any human act that gives rise to something new is referred to as a creative act, regardless of whether what is created is a physical object or some mental or emotional construct that lives within the person who created it and is known only to him. (p. 7) Creativit y in Vygotsky's developmental framework was seen as a transformative process, and it included young children's play, fantasy, and imagination (John Steiner, Connery, Marjanovic Shane, 2010). Vygotsky saw play as "imagination in action" (p. 11), and play n eeded to have created imaginary situations, and rules (John Steiner et al., 2010). These

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14 rules are based on the social/historical context (Vygotsky, 1978). Vygotsky (1978) also noted that "every act of imagination starts with this accumulation of experie nce" (p. 15), with the understanding that the more abundant the experiences of the child, the richer the imagination would be, as the child would have assimilated this life experience into their imagination's productivity. Contemporary Vygotskian scholars maintain that it is in the zone of proximal development (ZPD) that creativity emerges from the social, and it is in the everyday, the ordinary, where creativity exists (John Steiner et al., 2010). Holzman (2010) asserts that "without creating ZPDs, there is no creativity" (p. 28), as creativity is a collective activity. A group of eminent creativity researchers, in the conclusion to their bo ok "Development and Creativity," make the following claim, We came to a consensus that children are not really cre ative, given the definitions of creativity that are necessary to explain the important and influential innovations that have impacted our lives. Some of us ar e willing to retain a residual notion of small c creativity the everyday clevernes s that make s us smile or makes life easier for the novel, unusual actions of children, bu t we all distinguish this from big C creativity, the creation of culture transforming products that is only found in adults. Sawyer, John Steiner, Moran, S ternberg, Feldman, Nakamura, & Csikzentmihalyi, 2003, p. 240 In a direct response to this assertion, Gl " veanu (2011) finds this view to be valid, yet recognizes that predominant creativity theories are adult centric. Gl " veanu (2011) argues that children are "active and creative beings" (p. 17) if viewed through the 4 Ps of creativity framework. As originally formulated by Rhodes, the 4 Ps are Person, Process, Product, and Press (or environment). Gl " veanu (2011) recognizes th at there are "clear parallels between the child's play and the creator's work" (p. 9), but notes that intentionality of the creator (implying conscious action and a goal) has been deemed missing for children by creativity researchers. In regards to press, Gl " veanu (2011) asks, "Are children creative in relation to

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15 the social and the cultural world? They certainly belong to this world and make constant efforts to app rehend it and become part of it " (p. 13). In essence, children are being creative by being a person involved in a process, and by making or doing things by acting upon their environment. Preschool behaviors and creativity Play is considered essential for children, and is seen as beneficial to encourage curiosity, exploration, and creativity (Belk nap & Hazler, 2014). Given the standard definition for creativity (novelty plus usefulness), Russ (2014) asks the oft queried proposal, "Can children be truly creative?" (p. 8). Russ (2014) contends that, with attention paid to age norms, children can indeed produce creativity, even though they cannot yet make important contributions to domains (Russ & Dillon, 2011). Pretend play has been referred to as "the creative elix ir of childhood" (Russ, 2014, p. 3), as children may spend their days engaged in everyday creativity. They may find new ways to build a c astle out of boxes, or design new fashions for their stuffed animals. Pretend play can also be considered to be a mea ns for the development of M ini C creativity (Russ, 2014), and it involves imagination, affect, fantasy, and make believe (Russ & Dillon, 2011). Children also deal with affect during fantasy play (both positive and negative), considered important for creat ivity (Russ & Dillon 2011), and child directed free play provides time for children to develop self regulation, choice making, independence, and sense of self (Belknap & Hazler, 2014). It is also important to note that there is overlap in affective and co gnitive processes between creativity and pretend play. These are: divergent thinking, broad associations, cognitive flexibility, problem solving/insight, perspective taking, narrative development,

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16 affect themes and symbols, emotional expression, joy in pr etending, and integration of affect themes (Russ, 2014). Research into play and creativity during the preschool years is not without controversy, indeed there are methodological challenges when working with such an age group (Lillard, Lerner, Hopkins, Dor e, Smith, & Palmquist, 2013; Russ, 2014). Regardless, play is largely seen to be integral to healthy child development. However, it must be noted that Lillard, et al. (2013), cited methodological errors for the papers in their meta analysis. They contend t hat the evidence is not in support of causal explanations for pretend play in developme nt and proffer two alternatives: T here are many paths to development with pretending being one of them, and pretending is an epiphenomenon; it happens with development, but does not cause it (Lillard, et al., 2013). The authors are strong to point out that "developmental science does not support young children sitting in desks while teachers lecture at them" (p. 26). However, Silverman (2016) contends in a counter meta a nalysis that the play creativity hypothesis is "likely true" (p. 141), but notes that pretend play is not a "prerequisite to the development of creativity" (p. 142) . Worldplay (or paracosms) involves imagined places evoked by children, often with the incl usion of imaginary characters, and worldplay must persist over time (weeks to years), be consistent in said imagined place, and it must matter to the child (Root Bernstein & Root Bernstein, 2006). In studying this, (Root Bernstein & Root Bernstein, 2006) found worldplay "more common among MacArthur fellows than among MSU students" (p.412) and that those who engaged in paracosms as children represented a diverse array of professions beyond the arts. The authors suggest, "childhood worldplay does appear to

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17 p rovide an early apprenticeship in absorption and persistence, discovery, synthesis, and modeling" (p. 421), and these behaviors are important to creativity development. Elaborated role play , as defined by the involvement of imaginary characters (beyond fleeting moments) as studied by Mottweiler & Taylor (2014), used new measures of creativity appropriate to preschoolers (i.e. story completion, drawing task), and found that the children who engaged in such play scored higher on both new measures of creati vity. Teacher Beliefs In order to understand how teachers form their instructional techniques, researchers must be aware of teacher's beliefs of concepts and content (Belo, Van Driel, Van Veen, & Verloop, 2014). Researchers may distinguish between such r elated terms as belief, conceptualization, or attitudes (Andilou & Murphy, 2010), and while there are nuances between terms, many researchers use the terms interchangeably. Other relevant terms incl ude: values, conceptions, perceptions, views, and implic it theories (Andilou & Murphy, 2010). Drawing on the seminal work of William James, Andilou and Murphy (2010) define beliefs as, "the mental state or function of cognizing reality in which an individual perceives something real, beyond the realm of imagination" (p. 206). Implicit versus explicit theories can be recognized by their origin. Expli cit theories are those "formulated by psychologists or other social scientistsÉ from research studies on the individuals' creative performance" (Saracho, 2012, p. 35) while implicit theories are "those formulated by lay individuals who develop their implic it theories based on their belief systems about creativity" (Saracho, 2012, p. 35). There is a wide range of implicit theory definitions (Saracho, 2012), and there is not a consensus about beliefs as a construct (Belo et al., 2014).

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18 In the seminal work o n teacher beliefs, Pajares (1992) described teacher beliefs as a "messy construct" that ran the gamut from self efficacy, attribution, epistemological, to subject specific beliefs. In a meta analysis on teacher beliefs, Fives and Buehl (2012) found that b eliefs serve as a filter, intentions and actions are guided by beliefs, and that beliefs change over time as beliefs have a "reciprocal relationship with context and experience" (Fives and Buehl, 2012, p. 488). The implicit theories teachers hold about c reativity is of consequence to their students ( Karwowski, Gralewski, & Szumski, 2015), as the implicit theories about creativity held by teachers may impact their specific attitudes towards children (Karwowski, 2010 p. 1233). Henriksen, Mishra, and Fisser (2016) note that "a teacher's pedagogy is often a primary driver of how students develop and learn" (p. 31); a teacher's beliefs are significant and influence the way teachers practice their craft. Further, a teacher's beliefs of creative behavior in stu dents may affect the manner in which they interact (Westby & Dawson, 1995). Teachers' Conceptualizations of Creativity Much research into teachers' perceptions about creativity have centered on how aligned their beliefs are to the explicit theories as pro mulgated by creativity researchers (Aljughaiman & Mowrer Reynolds, 200 5). Yet, these explicit theories are not always consistent (Plucker, Beghetto, & Dow, 2004). Explicit theories can include: product, process, personal creativity, systems, or contexts (Mullet, et al., 2016). In service teachers tended to define creativity as doing something original (thinking outside of the box), whilst pre service teachers also included a social dimension, such as doing something good for society (Alku # & Olgan, 2014) . In a meta analysis, teachers noted the importance of creativity, yet tended to define it in "broad strokes" (p. 24), definitions were confused or

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19 vague, and they did not define the products of such creativity as needing to be useful (Mullet, et al., 2016 ). Teachers held that a "sudden insight" led to creative products, while some could not differentiate between creative product versus process (Mullet, et al., 2016). There is an art bias amongst teachers as well. While teachers' believed that creativity can manifest in all domains, creative outcomes were primarily from hands on activities within the arts, or from writing (Andilou & Murphy, 2010; Kampylis, Berki & Saariluoma, 2009). Teachers did not want to judge the creative product for "fear of upsetti ng the creative process" (Mullet, et al., 2016, p. 28). While the research shows inconsistencies in reports of how teachers conceptualize creativity, within these studies, many teachers' own beliefs w ere contradictory. Aljughaiman and Mowrer Reynolds (200 5), found that teachers were in agreement with researchers' categorization of creative behaviors: being ima ginative, deep thinking, curiosity , originality, and creating "novel products and inventions" (p. 27). However, teachers were unaware of the characteristics necessary for divergent thinking (e.g. being able off er multiple solutions to a task ) . Kampylis, Berki, & Saariluoma (2009) studied teachers who held that everyone could develop their creativity, whilst at the same time about half of the p articipants believed that creativity was still a gift possessed by a few. There is a significant body of research regarding the behaviors of students who are creative. Behaviors exhibited by students that are associated with creativity (e.g. increased que stioning) may be seen as an interference and disruption to the classroom (Scott, 1999). In describing creative students, Aljughaiman and Mowrer Reynolds (2005) found that teachers described creative students "with positive traits and the characteristics t hat are commonly liked by teachers"(p. 28). This poses a problem for students who are creative, but may not

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20 have high test scores or that ma y have behavioral challenges. The teachers did not consider courage, risk taking, curiosity, or independent judgme nt as characteristics of a creative person (Aljughaiman & Mowrer Reynolds, 2005). Likewise, Westby and Dawson (1995) found that teachers recognized creative students as responsible, reliable, logical, and certainly not a non conformist who tries to do the seeming impossible or to test their own limitations. Karwowski (2010), in studying teach ers' perceptions of creative versus "good" students, found that "c reative students were perceived as more dynamic, intellectual, and excitable and less agreeable and conscientious than good students" (p. 1233). Karwowski (2010) goes on to note that creativity demands the "hard, persistent work" (p. 1237) of conscientiousness; the very characteristics assumed to constitute a good student. Despite teachers valuing crea tivity, they may misinterpret creativity as demonstrated by good behaviors, those behaviors which make an efficient classroom possible (Gralewski & Karwowski, 2013). Aljughaiman and Mowrer Reynolds (2005) found that teachers confused the characteristics of high ach ieving students with creativity, these were: high intelligence, being intrinsically motivated, and possessing verbal ability . Aljughaiman and Mowrer Reynolds (2005) note that teachers were describing students who were high achievers, but had some creative traits. Indeed, intelligent people are capable of producing quality, but the originality piece may be missing (Aljughaiman & Mowrer Reynolds, 2005). de Souza Fleith (2000) found that teachers and researchers definitions converged at specif ic teaching strategies, which include the cooperative learning and discovery experiences known to enhance creativity. Teachers described creativity enhancing environments as supportive of a student's self confidence by allowing for time for students to

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21 become creative through open ended activities without imposing too many rules (de Souza Fle ith, 2000). T eachers relied on their intuition to teach creativity, although they were aware of how to support creativity in the class (de Souza Fleith, 2000). Teachers w ere aware of detriments to creativity which include intolerance for mistakes, ideas going ignored, and drill work. Karwowski, Gralewski, and Szumski (2015) f ound that the more a teacher believed a student was creative, the more creative self efficacy (CSE) that student had; students were sensitive to their teacher's perceptions of their creative abilities. Students' own CSE beliefs were found to "decline by grade level" (p. 344), while their teachers did not make this distinction by grade when evalua ting the creative abilities of their students (Begetto, Kaufman, & Baxter, 2011). Kampylis, Berki, and Saariluoma (2009) found that most pre and in service teachers agreed that in all students, creativity can be developed. Andilou and Murphy (2010) note that teachers "value creativity but they feel that they cannot support its development because of other expectations such as covering content and preparing students for standardized assessments" (p. 217). For teacher beliefs specific to the preschool leve l, Feldman (2003) claims that our culture tends to romanticize childhood. Feldman & Benjamin (2006) explain that, Early childhood teachers commonly describe childhood creativity as an innocent openness to experience, a charming originality, or a delight in the novel. In this largely romantic view, all children are naturally (or perhaps supernaturally) endowed with cre ativity, a quality of mind that many believe will diminish unless adults create conditions favorable to its continued expression. p. 324 Leggett (2017) found that preschool teachers demonstrated their understandings of creativity through their involvemen t with children, and the concepts included were: imagination, opportunity for intrinsic motivation, play, and an experience of enlightenment

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22 (or aha! moment). Leggett (2017) also found that the preschool teachers believed creative development for children was aided by: teachers who provide support with the physical environment, resources with which to create, access to nature and outdoors, time, and that "creativity is the children's tool for learning" (p. 5). However, teachers did not demonstrate an awar eness of how to promote creativity through interactions (Leggett, 2017). For example, they offered praise for being creative rather than extend learning opportunities (Leggett, 2017). Becoming and Being Creative Creativity can be considered a thinking skill or, an approach to thinking, and can be learned by doing, or by being actively involved in it (Henriksen, Mishra, & Fisser (2016). Sternberg (2007) contends that creativity can be thought of as a habit, as creative people work very hard at being cre ative, "t hey habitually respond to problems in fresh and novel ways, rather than allowing themselves to respond mindlessly and automatically" (p. 3). The creative process has been formulated and re arranged num erous times over the years, for example, IDEO 's design thinking model (Kelley, 2001). Sawyer (2012) integrates many concepts from extant creativity process models into an eight stage model: problem find, build relevant knowledge, find related information, incubate, idea generation, combine ideas un expectedly, pick best ideas, and represent the idea. These models, in varying degrees, aim to situate the individual's cognition in terms of steps of being creative within a process. Specific to the classroom environment, Craft (2007) notes that the foll owing process is a "dynamic interplay between children and teachers" (p. 236). Children pose questions, play, are immersed in environment s free from rid icule and criticism , innovate , be

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23 imaginative, and take risks with self determination (Craft, 2007). T hese lists are to be seen as a general guide, and while they appear step by step, the intent is to be able to jump from one level to another, or to circle back and iterate on a different level; flexibility is inherent. Sawyer (2012) notes that student creativity development includes: maintaining an openness for unusual ideas, work on problem finding, and have students question their assumptions in an inclusive environment where trust and safety is held. Resisting conformity via peer pressure, and the m odeling of creativity or creative behaviors by teachers should be seen by students (Sawyer, 2012). Failure can be seen as a positive thing, as can risk taking (Sawyer, 2012). Time needs to be given for thinking, and for incubating of ideas (Sawyer, 2012) . Students need collaboration and a cross fertilization of ideas across domains whilst imagining other viewpoints (Sawyer, 2012). In terms of a creativity supporting environment, the following have been recommended: space and time flexibility, approp riate material availability, play and game based approaches, peer collaboration, knowledge of student needs, external partnerships with agencies, and non prescriptive lesson planning (Davies, Jinal Snape, Collier, Digby, Hay, & Howe, 2012). The key is to find a balance between freedom and structure to allow for learner autonomy with support for appropriate risk taking (Davies, et al., 2012). Education and Creativity Culture ! Guilford (1950) noted that mass education discouraged creatives, as "the child is under pressure to conform for the sake of economy and for the sake of satisfying prescribed standards" (p. 448). These sentiments resound with familiarity in today's high stakes testing environment, where classroom opportunities for creativity are not present (Snyder, Gregerson, & J. C. Kaufman, 2013) or are even seen as places where creativity is stifled

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24 (Sawyer, 2012), and the emotions, imagination, and play required for creativity have no place (Marjanovic Shane, Connery, & John Steiner, 2010). Mull et et al. (2016) maintain that "there is no space in standardized curriculum for questioning the status quo, following one's passion, or swimming upstream" (p. 27). While there is no place for creativity during teacher centered drill based activities (H enriksen, Mishra, & Fisser, 2016), some researchers find space for creativity under the standards, so as long as teachers understand creativity and find the space and time for it (Beghetto, J. C. Kaufman, & Baer, 2015). Hondzel and Hansen (2015) recognize that while some standards do indeed promote creativity and innovation, teachers do not necessarily employ these learning outcomes by "rewarding students who persist with an idea through failure and reiteration" (p. 179). Furthermore, th e high stakes natu re of standardized testing has created a burden for teachers; little time is left for creativity (Mullet et. al, 2016). As for the preschools, there is a current "push down" of standardization through "school readiness" initiatives and programming whereby preschoolers are now being taught the academic skills once reserved for subsequent grades (Christakis, 2016). Child directed free play has been declining in recent decades; children now have reduced opportunities and access for play resulting in play deprivation , which is of concern to counselors as development may be negatively impacted (Belknap & Hazler, 2014). However, Russ & Dillon (2011) found that despite a reduction in free, unstructured play, there has been no change in "amount and range of af fect expression" (p. 337) and that imagination has increased. The authors postulate that children are resilient, they may be finding time to play outside of organized activities, and that modern culture may be providing problem solving

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25 opportunities due to complexities of the era that require imagination to function (Russ & Dillon, 2011). Until recently, most consideration of creativity within educational contexts centered around gifted and talented education (Sawyer, 2012), and many teachers are not being adequately trained in creativity or imagination at all (Hatt & Maynes, 2013). The usual K 12 curricular materials often exclude the explicit goal of creativity development (Beghetto & Kaufman, 2009). Guilford (1950) considered the importance of the facts and knowledge as espoused by teachers as important, as one cannot create without prior knowledge, but advocated for a change in how creativity was conceptualized in order to change education. A recent study by Kim (2011) reported that there is a "Creativ ity Crisis". Using the TTCT, Kim (2011) found that creative thinking is declining amongst all Americans, but particularly in kindergarten through third grade children. Kim (2011) notes, "To reverse decline in creative thinking, the United States should r eclaim opportunities for its students and teachers to think flexibly, critically, and creatively. Sta ndardization should be resisted " (p. 294) . And while the TTCT only hones on a small part of what creativity is (divergent thinking), this research was pu blicized in the popular press by Bronson and Merryman (2010), which caused serious concern within mainstream culture. One of the most watched TED talks of all time is Sir Ken Robinson's "How Schools Kill Creativity" (Robinson, 2015). In the subsequent an d popular book, Robinson offers a serious critique of the business of education, and proffers suggestions for change (Robinson, 2015). Also prevalent in the current mainstream culture is that of creativity training programs; a recent Google search for the same term yielded over 60,000,000 hits. Social

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26 media also provides a source for creativity information; Facebook and Instagram offer an abundance of memes on the nature of creativity. There is a belief that creative products, and the individuals that create them, are seen as ahead of their time, as they often struggle to have their viewpoi nts heard within their culture e.g. Copernicus, Van Gogh (Csikszentmihalyi, 2014), but as Sawyer (2012) points out, this is not necessarily always the case. The Impr essionists created their own show and support networks following the exclusion from the French Academy; creative acts, even if maligned by the dominant culture, can find a place (Sawyer, 2012) . Despite years of creativity research, there are certain myth s that persist outside of academia. It is believed that people are either creative or they are not; one must be a genius in order to be creative (Plucker, Beghetto, & Dow, 2004). This is evident in the innovation economy, whereby it is often believed th at a few brilliant inventors will lead the way (Sawyer, 2006). Tanggaard (2015) observes that there is often a dichotomy about the nature of creativity and innovation, in that it is approached either by "business as usual"(p. 191) or "challenge everything " (p. 191). There is also the persistent myth that creative people must have a psychological challenge or are a "lone nut" (Plu cker, Beghetto, & Dow, 2004). There is also a persistent art bias towards creativity; the creativity of math and science are of ten left unrecognized (Kampylis, Berki, & Saariluoma, 2009; Gl " veanu , 2011). Creativity is believed to be a soft and fuzzy construct (Plucker, Beghetto, & Dow, 2004) , but it remains that "ordinary" creativity does have an effect, it provides the "maintenan ce and constant re generation of human culture" ( Gl " veanu , 2011, p. 16). Even with all of the thoughtful and important debate, researchers now generally agree that all humans can be creative (Tanggaard, 2015; Shontz, 2013).

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27 Theoretical Lens ! This project began using Bronfenbrenner's ecological systems theory as a contextual lens from which to view teachers' beliefs and uses of creativity within the classroom. A second lens was to emerge from the data from which to view the rationale for how teachers used creativity. Early in data collection, it became obvio us that an ecological systems theory in addition to a common educational psychology theory would not be appropriate. Teachers were very particular with how they used paint or manipulatives, and how they would direct students or deliver feedback to them. It became clear that a teacher's use of materials and rules for language use within their educational context was the external manifestation of their creativity conceptualizations. Thus, 2 nd generation Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) was chosen as a lens to analyze the research questions. CHAT can be used as an action research model whereby subjects reflect on their own activity in a form of praxis for change. This usage is consistent with 3 rd generation CHAT, while 2 nd generation CHAT has b een used by Western researchers in exploratory and descriptive studies. It is in this tradition 2 nd generation CHAT will be utilized. CHAT scholars, "examine the interactions shared among human consciousness, observable behavior, and cultural setting thr ough mediated action" (Yamagata Lynch, 2010, p. 140). CHAT has its roots in the works of Russian psychologists (Vygotsky, Luria, and Leontiev) who were working in the last century against the Western psychology notions of behaviorism and psychoanalysis (Yamagata Lynch, 2010; Nussbaumer, 2012). There are three generations of CHAT, as organized by Engestr šm (1987). First generation CHAT is based on the work of Vygotsky, who held that mediated action must intercede the pervasive stimulus response beh avior explanation of the day. Mediated action is the way in which

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28 individuals internalize learning, as situated in culture/history (Yamagata Lynch, 2010). Second generation CHAT is dependent on the work of Leontiev and Luria, but was conceptualized into the t riangle diagram (see Appendix E ) by Engestr šm (1987). Assumptions There are certain assumptions regarding CHAT that must be explained. People do not passively participate in their world (Yamagata Lynch, 2010). In CHAT, the relationship between the environment a nd the organism is inseparable (Yamagata Lynch, 2010). Making and doing things in the world (or, activity labor) is what makes us conscious, it is what makes us human (van der Riet, 2010). Knowledge is a social construction formed from histor y, culture, intentions, and tools used in the process of the everyday, and meaning making comes forth from the activity (Johassen & Roher Murphy, 1999). Activity System The activity system is the unit of analysis that confers meaning to events ( Engestr šm , 1993), and "it is external activity that unlocks the circle of internal mental processes , that opens it up to the objective world" (Leontiev, 2009, p. 5). The activity is a collaborative process (Johassen & Roher Murphy, 1999) and consists of certain co mponents which can be visualized in Appendix E whereby each component exists in an interrelationship with the others ( Engestr šm, 1993). CHAT enables the researcher to "seek to identify how the other components are present and influencing the situation" (F oot, 2004, p. 3) at a specific point in time or over time. • Activity System : The context consisting of six components plus outcome. In this study, this is the preschool classroom as context, plus the activity system's outcome motive.

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29 • Subject : The actor or individual; it is their point of view and actions that are considered (Feldman & Weiss, 2010), in this study it is the individual teachers. • Tools : C onceptual or material tools used (Foot, 2004). These tools influence the ways people think and act (Joha ssen & Rohrer Murphy, 1999) . This includes c lassroom materials and language. • Object: T he "thing to be acted upon" (Foot, 2004, p. 333); it "motivates the actions of the subject" (Feldman & Weiss, 2010, p. 37). In this study, it is creativity. • Community of significant others: P eople who work within the shared activity system and share the same interest in the obje ct (Foot, 2004). In this study, the communities consist of students, co teachers, and parents. • Rules: G uide the actions of the subject, and h ow relationships are managed in the community (Foot, 2004), and they are implicit or explicit (Feldman & Weiss, 2010) . In this study, rules are specific to the schools and the subject's object motive ; how language and materials were used. • Division of labo r : H ow subjects di vide tasks and obtain resources; "what is being done by whom toward the object" (Foot, 2004, p. 6) both vertically and horizontally. (Foot, 2004). In this study, it is how language and materials are used by whom, and when. The object in these case studies is creativity; objects are the reasons why people choose to be involved in an activity (Yamagata Lynch (2010). Leontiev (1974) considered the object to exist in two forms; independent, and as a mental image, "as a product of the subj ect's Ôdetection ' of it s properties, which is realized through and only through his activity" (p.11) . This distinction is important for the present research, as a guiding research

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30 question investigates the teachers' concept of creativity; there are expl icit definitions of creativity from researchers, and there are implicit definitions of creativity from teachers themselves. A teacher's manifestation of their conceptualization of creativity will thus be evident in their activity. Salient to this line of research, Hakkarainen (1999) notes th at within an activity system, "t he adult's own play experiences influence which play themes are selected and how they are set up and guided" (p. 247). Foot (2014) notes three facets to an object: it is something to be acted upon, it is an "objectified motive" (p. 333) and it is "a desired outcome" (p. 333). In these cases, all teachers note creativity as one of the desired outcomes for their students. It must be noted however, that these teachers do indeed have other desired outcomes and motives for their classes; creativity is but one of many outcomes. While still debated and interpreted by researchers, the object oriented activity definition shall follow Yamagata Lynch (2010), "meditational processes in which indiv idualsÉ participate driven by their goals and motives, which may lead them to create or gain new artifacts or cultural tools intended to make the activity robust" (p. 17). Drawing on Leontiev, Nardi (2005) notes that there is an element of human desire th at motivates participation in an activity. Teachers are often passionate about what they do; they desire to make a difference through their work. The subject contributes " to historically and culturally specific practices, the individual self gradually e volves to embody these practices and the latter begin to saturate and subsume all individual ex pressions and modes of acting" (Stetsenko & Arievitch, 2004). In this research, the development of the subject's conceptualization of creativity was queried. As Leontiev (1974) noted, "the activity of individual people thus depends on their social position, the conditions that fall to their lot, and an accumulation of idiosyncratic, individual

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31 factors" (p. 10). The experiences had by the subject, inclusive in their cultural/historical contextual experience, influence the subject's position about the object (Foot, 2004). A teacher's attitude towards creativity is de pendent on their experiences in the past, within cultural understandings of what creativity does or does not look like (Sternberg, 2007). The object motive is oriented to, and generates the activity; the goals are individually held within the system and may differ from other community members, but goals result in subject and community actions, which make the activity possible. For the prese nt research, this can be explained as: Teachers (subject) are motivated to support creativity through their own educational context (activity system). Goals held by community members (teachers or students) might look different; teachers' goals may be to facilitate a learning activity whilst a child's goal might be to play and build a tower, but they are still within the same activity system of the preschool. The actions of the teacher might be to give the child blocks or assistance to build a tower (teac her moves), and the actions of the child might be to move the blocks around in different ways to get the tower built.

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32 CHAPTER III METHOD ! To understand how teachers in varied early childhood learning contexts have conceptualized creativity pers onally, and in education, and to explore how they bring their implicit understandings into the classroom, a qualitative approach was deemed appropriate. Research Design ! This research has a multiple case study design (or collective case study design) whereby greater comprehension and in depth analysis of teacher beliefs was possible than by using a single case alone (Johnson & Christensen, 2014). Collective case studies can be defined as "studying multiple cases in one research study" (Johnson & Chris tensen, 2014, p. 436). Collective case studies allow for comparisons of differences and similarities between cases (Johnson & Christensen, 2014). Multiple case studies are designed in the following sequence: develop theory, select cases and design dat a collection protocol, conduct each case separately, write up case reports individually, draw cross case conclusions through analysis, modify initial theory if necessary, and prepare a cross case report (Yin, 2014). The initial theory developed was that t eachers have developed an understanding of creativity throughout their lives as influenced by their ecological system. Teachers bring their conceptualization of creativity to their educational practice in myriad ways, which may or may not align with theor ies of creativity as posited by researchers. The participants were purposively chosen as individual cases to show differing viewpoints and contexts concerning the issue (Creswell, 2013). Cases were developed using CHAT as a theoretical lens and organizat ional tool using the 2 nd generation triangle of

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33 co mponents as arranged by Engestr š m (1987). Individual cases, as separate activity systems, were then analyzed using qualitative methods, and the init ial theory was then modified to : Teachers have developed an understanding of creativity throughout their lives as cultural/historical experience. Teachers bring their conceptualization of creativity to their educational practice in myriad ways through their activity system, which may or may not align with theor ies of creativity as posited by researchers. A cross case analysis was conducted, and the findings were presented using the research questions as a guide (Stake, 2006) with CHAT serving as a lens. This research was submitted to and approved by the Colorad o Multiple Institutional Review Board (COMIRB) for exempt research, submission ID 17 7838. There was one approved amendment (see appendices A and B). Participants ! The inclusion criteria for participants were such that they must be current preschool teachers employed at schools that were pedagogically different in focus. Exclusion criteria were as follows: elementary, middle, high school teachers, college instructo rs, retired PK 12 teachers. This population has been chosen as there is little research on the teachers' conceptualizations of creativity and how this manifests in education. Teachers who are currently involved in varied preschool educational models are o f interest as they were considered likely to offer insights on how to both teach creatively and teach for creativity as a result of their educational placement. Teachers were contacted as potential participants via email following identification of possib le participation through convenience sampling. Participants were provided with a postcard consent form (as pe r COMIRB request, see appendix C ). There were three

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34 participants. One teacher is the founder, director, and educator of a forest kindergarten p rogram that operates without a facility on public lands. Another teacher is training to be a preschool director, and is employed at a play based, parent/teacher cooperative preschool that is located in a former house that has been remodeled into an early learning center. The final teacher is also a director of her arts based preschool that is located in a community arts center that has access to a theatre, dance space, galleries, and a visual arts studio. Role of the Researcher ! According to Stake (2006), one of the most significant tasks in a multiple case study is to demonstrate how a particular subject or issue manifests in different settings. Avoiding bias is always a concern for researchers (Creswell, 2013), yet for the case study researcher this is especially important, as we must know about the issue prior to research (Yin, 2014). Being prone to substantiating a "preconceived position" (Yin, 2014, p. 76) was mitigated through trying to find evidence to the contrary of the proposition. The researc her's bias about creativity and disclosure of their experience in education was provided in the introduction to this thesis. Multiple case study design follows replication logic (Stake, 2006). A theoretical proposition must be re evaluated after each case , and if modifications are necessary, they must be made as, "without such redesign, you risk being accused of distorting or ignoring the discovery, just to accommodate the original design" (Yin, 2014, p. 61). Also, case study researchers run the risk of drifting away from the original propositions or reason(s) of inquiry to suit the data. To avoid these risks, the researcher frequently checked back to the original purpose of the study, and regularly checked for alternative explanations or rival theories (Yin, 2014). However, this was done in moderation, as Stake (2006) contends, emphasizing

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35 the original research questions too much may distract the researcher from identifying new emergent issues. Interview and Observation Protocol ! Participants were in terviewed using a semi structured interview guide (see appendix D ). Participants were interviewed in a comfortable setting, either at the public library or in their school. Interview duration was no longer than one hour, and participants were recorded using a digital recording device with participant permissions grant ed. Notes were also taken with permission. The interviews began with conversation around demographic information, leading into teacher training, and how they came to be at their current teaching assignment. Participants were asked about their definiti on(s) of creativity, and of their creative self. The discussions included how they experienced creativity in the past, from childhood forward. Teachers were asked how creativity was supported in their school, what was necessary for creativity to develop in students. They were also asked about their familiarity with creativity research. Participants were given the opportunity to add anything the researcher should be aware of, or what they thought the researcher should know before the interviews concluded . In order to attain triangulation and support findings, collecting multiple sources of data was necessary (Yin, 2014), and typical data used in case studies was collected (Creswell, 2013). Observations of teachers working in their classrooms were conduc ted following approval from the school. Observations lasted one hour. No children were directly observed; attention was focused on the teacher at work. Data was collected via memoing (Johnson & Christensen, 2014), and diagrams of the classrooms were dr awn showing teacher movement, furniture (if applicable), and material storage/access. Digital

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36 photographs were taken following verbal permission from teachers. Content of the images included student products, materials for student use (accessible and in use that day), and the classroom environment. No humans were photographed. These images helped to contextualize teacher interviews, and provided reference to the researcher in data analysis. Data Analysis ! Interviews were transcribed into Express Scrib e and participants were de identified. It should be noted that Ôdata dumping' following the interviews and observations was employed. Creswell (2013) notes, "Data analysis is not off the shelf; rather, it is custom built, revised, and "choreographed" (p. 182). Yin (2014) acknowledges that case study analysis is not completely developed within this type of research, but recommends to play with the data initially to get an overall sense of what one has collected. Diagramming, idea webs, mind mapping are al l valid ways that were used to visualize the emergent patterns or concepts. Data was analyzed in a spiral (Creswell, 2013) whereby the actions of data collection, memoing, reflecting, classifying, categorization, description, and making propositions (amon gst others) were continually revisited and iterated upon in order to complete an analysis. This researcher engaged in this process as initial cases were built whilst overarching themes between the activity systems were compared and contrasted. It must b e noted that memos resulting from the initial case interviews tended to be the researcher's own evaluation and reflected the researcher's own personal biases towards creativity, early childhood, and education. Certain appraisals "crept in" and were akin t o, "If I were the teacher, I would not do that, I would do this instead." These memos were important as they allowed the researcher to clearly delineate between the researcher's own presuppositions and the viewpoints and lived experience of the participan ts. Thus, in order to

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37 reach the participants' experiences, the researcher acknowledged their own personal ideas, and then put them aside. Two of the four general strategies that are recommended by Yin (2014) that were us ed to sort through data were: R e lying on theoretical propositions as a top down organization, and the inductive strategy of starting at the ground and work upwards. These strategies are not mutually exclusive (Yin, 2014). Following strategies, the researcher focused on explanation bui lding as an analytic technique for the individual cases and the cross case analysis. The iterative process that is inherent in explanation building is well suited to multiple case studies (Yin, 2014), and it enabled the researcher to utilize a cross case analysis to compare similarities and differences (Johnson & Christensen, 2014) and to make assertions about the cases when considered together (Stake, 2006). This explanation building is presented as a narrative, and the narratives are organized around th e components of a CHAT activity system, which is appropriate for conveying the complexity of the development and application of creativity beliefs. Explanation building is appropriate for analyzing the data specific to this research, as Yin (2014) notes, "To Ôexplain' a phenomenon is to stipulate a presumed set of causal links about it, or Ôhow' or Ôwhy' something happened" (p. 147). Validity was established using triangulation of multiple sources of data, clarification conversations with participants, an d with participant member checks.

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38 CHAPTER 4 MANUSCRIPT Overview ! Creativity. An inherent human ability which allows us to adapt, improvise, grow, and evolve our cultures (Richards, 2007). Our culture often refers to young children for creative understanding (Gl " veanu, 2011); the play, the wonder, the curiosity that is seemingly innate in our species. Creativity has been put forth as an essential 21 st c entury skill that will drive the innovation economies forward (Florida, 2002). Indeed, it is creativity and innovation that is requisite for humans to solve the world's most pressing issues (Sawyer, 2006). As such, there is a recognized need for creativi ty to be sufficiently addressed in current educational systems to nurture the creative endeavors of future generations (Jeffrey & Craft, 2001). An appropriate starting point is to investigate early childhood contexts as the beginnings of formal educationa l careers are highly impactful on students' development and future learning. (Campbell, Ramey, Pungello, Sparling, & Miller Johnson, 2002). As educational reform advocates are pressing for creativity in schools, the purpose of this study was to explore h ow teachers formed their conceptualizations of creativity and to consider how these understandings manifest within their teaching practice. Teachers places of work were seen as activity systems, using cultural historical activity theory (CHAT) as a lens t o view creativity in action according the teachers conceptualizations. This research contributes to the literature by addressing gaps, as little is known about life experiences contributing to creativity (Hondzel & Hansen, 2015), and this study goes beyon d a comparison of teacher versus researcher creativity definitions. The guiding research questions were as follows: How did the concept of creativity develop for these teachers?

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39 How do teachers conceptualize creativity? And in education? And finally, h ow do teachers' beliefs about creativity influence and moderate their educational practice? The Culture of Creativity and Schools ! In a current educational climate of standardization and high stakes testing, the alarm bell rings over decreased opportuniti es for creative development (Robinson, 2015). American children have been found to score lower in tests of creativity as of late (Kim, 2011), and there is a decreased amount of time children spend playing (Belknap & Hazler, 2014). Although testing creati vity is rife with challenges (i.e. predictive validity or additional cognitive variables) (Treffinger, 2003), and that imagination levels of children, despite decreased play time, have increased (Russ & Dillon, 2011), these findings still frame the culture of practice for American preschool teachers in an educational and political period whereby funding, resources, access, and the very Department of Education is up for dispute. The impacts of academics based preschool curricula versus play based preschools is particularly salient given the push for more state sponsored preschools. However, schools are not seen as particularly creative places, and are often detrimental to creative development (Robinson, 2015; Sternberg, 2007). Still, creativity can be nurt ured within standardized curricula given appropriate supports, time, and dedicated effort (Beghetto ,J. C. Kaufman, Baer, &, 2015). Literature Review ! Creativity research has tended to be adult centric (Gl " veanu, 2011), whereby the most common, standard definition of creativity, while debated, remains that creativity must produce something that is both novel and appropriate (Amabile, 1996; Runco & Jaeger, 2012). Early research into creativity, following Guilford's 1950 address to the APA, focused

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40 on the creative individual and the innate characteristics that made their creativity possible (Amabile, 1996; Tanggaard, 2015). Much of this focused on the lives of eminent individuals whose work propelled science and culture forward (e.g. Gardner, 1993). Perso nality traits linked to creativity were noted as being driven, ambitious, self confident, autonomous, introverted, and impulsive, amongst others (Feist, 1998). Openness to experience, a Big 5 personality trait, has been found to be more correlated to crea tive accomplishment than other personality traits, IQ, or divergent thinking scores (S. B. Kaufman & Gregoire, 2015). Using the componential model of creativity, the social environment matters very much to creative development (Amabile, 1996). The system s model of creativity places creativity in the context of the three interconnected components of field, domain, and individual whereby the creator, creative act, and creative product are situated within the cultural rules and traditions that dictate what i s novel and useful (Csikzentmihalyi, 2014). Forms of cr eativity are varied. The Four C model of creativity places creative production on a non linear development, ranging from the Big C creative eminence that change culture through little c creativity in the regular lives of people, which can also be seen in children (J. C. Kaufman & Beghetto, 2009). Richards' (2010) everyday creativity can be seen as central to human survival, focused on both process and product, whereby personal, creative risk taking offers possibilities and opportunities for tolerance. Current research suggests that creativity emerges from social groups and collaborative networks (Sawyer & DeZutter, 2009). Creative pathways provide a means whereby everyone can be considered creativ e as a part of an interconnected life (Tanggaard, 2015). Play is considered essential for children, and is seen as beneficial to encourage curiosity, exploration, and creativity (Belknap & Hazler, 2014). Since the beginnings of

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41 early childhood education in the United States, creativity and play have been seen as interdependent features of the childhood experience. The Vygotskian view of childhood creativity is a transformative one; imagination is activated during play (John Steiner, Connery, & Marjanovic Shane, 2010). Play has rules, based on the cultural/historical context of the child, and the child's accumulated experience brings a richness to the imagination (Vygotsky, 1978). Pretend play also involves fantasy and make believe (Russ & Dillon, 2011), and it provides time for the development of self regulation, choice making, and a sense of self (Belknap & Hazler, 2014). Young children also engage in worldplay (paracosms), which presents opportunity for discovery, absorption and persistence to tasks, synthesis of ideas, and modeling behaviors (Root Bernstein & Root Bernstein, 2006). The research into creativity and play during the preschool stage is not without controversy, although play is seen as integral to healthy child development, there is dis agreement concerning pretend play being necessary for creativity development (Lillard, Lerner, Hopkins, Dore, Smith, & Palmquist, 2013; Silverman, 2016). Developmental research does not maintain that teacher directed lectures at sitting children beneficia l for creativity (Lillard et al, 2013). In order to support creativity development in children, Craft (2007) recommends a "dynamic interplay between children and teachers" (p. 236) that is a process consisting of: questioning, play, immersion in an env ironment clear of ridicule and criticism, innovation through knowledge construction, being imaginative, and taking risks with self determination. Possibilities thinking, or asking "what if" (Craft, 2007, p. 236) is at the core of creativity, whereby merel y recognizing or labeling things is superceded exploration and is essential to problem finding (Craft, 2007). Creativity supporting environments are inclusive of space

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42 and time flexibility, play and game based approaches, appropriate material availability , knowledge of student needs, peer collaboration, and non prescriptive lesson planning (Davies, Jindal Snape, Collier, Digby, Hay, & Howe, 2013). Freedom and structure should be balanced to ensure learner autonomy whilst still respecting the need, and sup port for, appropriate risk taking (Davies et al., 2013). In order to understand how teachers inform their instructional techniques, researchers must be aware of teacher's beliefs of concepts and content (Belo, Van Driel, Van Veen, & Verloop, 2014). Teach ers' beliefs (implicit theories, attitudes, values, or conceptualizations) serve as a filter; their intentions and actions within the classroom are guided by their beliefs, and these change over time through experience and context (Fives and Buehl, 2012). A teacher's beliefs about creative behaviors and theories held about creativity may influence their interactions with their students, or their attitude toward s them (Westby & Dawson, 1995 ). Teachers may misinterpret creativity for "good behaviors", those behaviors that may make an efficient classroom possible (Gralewski & Karwowski, 2013). Considerable research into teachers perceptions on creativity have focused on a teacher's implicit theory versus a researcher's explicit theory (Aljughaiman & Mowrer Reynolds, 2005; Mullet, Willerson, Lamb, & Kettler, 2016). There is an art bias held by some teachers; creativity is seen as primarily found in the arts or writing (Andilou & Murphy, 2010; Kampylis, Berki, & Saariluoma, 2009). An awareness of the detrime nts to creativity (e.g. drill work) has been expressed by teachers, but they have had to rely on their own intuition to teach it, describing a creativity enhancing classroom as open ended without imposing too many rules (Fleith, 2000). Teachers have been found to value creativity, but

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43 often cannot nurture their students' development of it due to curriculum needs and assessment preparation (Andilou & Murphy, 2010; J. C. Kaufman & Beghetto, 2009). Purpose of the Study and Research Questions ! The purpose of this study was to understand how teachers have conceptualized creativity, and to explore how they bring their implicit beliefs about creativity into their varied early childhood learning environments. The research questions asked how tea chers conceptualiz e creativity , how teachers developed thei r creativity beliefs, and how these implicit understandings about creativity manifest within their teaching practice. Method ! Sample The sample was comprised of three participants who were current preschool teachers employed at schools with different pedagogical foci. These teachers were selected as there is a gap in the literature in how teachers' conceptualizations of creativity, wit hin varied educational contexts, manifest in their teaching. One teacher is a director of a new arts based preschool that operates in a community arts center that consists of a dance space, galleries, theatre, and a visual arts studio. She has an under graduate degree and has completed some master's coursework. The second teacher is a founder, director, and teacher of a forest kindergarten program that uses public lands in all types of weather in lieu of a formal facility. She has an undergraduate degre e and a master's degree. The final teacher is in the process of becoming director certified in a play based, parent/teacher cooperative preschool that has operated for many years, located in a former residence that has been remodeled into an early learning center. She also has an undergraduate degree and a master's degree.

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44 Research Design This study used a multiple case study design as an in depth understanding and analysis was required to explore teachers' conceptualizations and to compare and contrast across cases how teachers' creativity beliefs manifested in the classroom. This qualitative approach utilized interviews, observations, photographic documentation, and follow up conversations to create detailed accounts of teachers' creativity beliefs an d practices. The initial theoretical proposition should be re evaluated after each case in order to avoid distorting discoveries to adapt findings to the original design (Yin, 2014). To avoid the risk of drifting away from the original proposition, the researcher continuously checked back to the original purpose of the study, and checked for rival theories or alternative explanations (Yin, 2014). The original proposition for this research was that: Teachers have developed their understandings of creati vity as influenced by their experiences, and they bring these conceptualizations in different ways, which may or may not align with the explicit theories developed by researchers. The refined proposition was that teachers have developed their conceptualiz ations of creativity within their cultural/historical context(s), and these understandings are evident in their activity systems, which may or may not be aligned to theories of creativity as advanced by researchers. Procedure Participants were recruited v ia email and their schools gave official permission to the university for the research to occur. The teachers were informed at the beginning of the interview that this research was not to be evaluative, that their confidentiality was assured, and that the y could leave the study at any time for any reason. Although students were present during class visits, they were not explicitly studied through interviews or direct

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45 observation. Individual interviews with teachers were completed within one hour, and obse rvation duration was hour. Follow up conversations were conducted to verify themes and clear up understandings. Photographic documentation included student work, materials and tool, classroom environment, and were absent of human subjects. Based on th e work of Vygotsky, continued by Leontiev, and further developed and organized by Engestr š m (1987), the second generation of cultural historical activity theory (CHAT) was used as a theoretical lens. Humans are not passive participants in their world (Yam agata Lynch, 2010); this research considered the interconnected components of the activity system to interpret influences on the individual within the cultural/historical milieu. The social construction of knowledge, formed from history, culture, intentio ns, and tools used in everyday experiences, contributes to meaning making from within the activity (Jonassen & Roher Murphy, 1999). Salient to this line of research, Hakkarainen (1999) notes that within an activity system, "The adult's own play experience s influence which play themes are selected and how they are set up and guided" (p. 247). The activity systems, as units of analysis, were the individual preschools, plus the object motives for each activity system. The object motive varied for all three teachers; creativity was the object, or "thing to be acted upon" (Foot, 2004, p. 333) and is the reason why individuals choose to be in said activity (Yamagata Lynch, 2010). The community of significant others, or people who engage in the activity system to attain the object, divide their labor towards the object, and use tools (language or materials) using rules specific to the activity system (Foot, 2004). The activity system is highly interdependent, and the subjects (teachers) actions towards the deve lopment of creativity will be viewed with an emphasis on tools and rules to understand how they conceptualize creativity.

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46 Interview Protocol Participants were interviewed in person using the same semi structured interview guide as a basis for discussion a t a comfortable, public location. Multiple case studies use a replication logic (Stake, 2006); the questions were open ended and were based on exploring how teachers viewed creativity. Questions considered how creativity was supported or hindered during their lifespan, views of children being creative, creative processes, and products. Background information regarding their training and their current school placement allowed the researcher to attain knowledge into their personal theories and practices. The guide was partially based on themes emergent from the literature, and the researcher's first hand knowledge of creative processes within education. Participants were given the opportunity to add anything they considered important to the study, and all offered additional information of personal import. Data Analysis Interviews were transcribed using secure software. Data from interviews were coded within individual cases using the components of CHAT; cross case analysis utilized the emergent themes and these were organized using the research questions. Themes emerged from the data in a spiral fashion (Creswell, 2013), and the researcher relied on diagramming, idea webs, and the CHAT triangle to systematize the separate activity systems, and for cros s case analysis. Data analysis was iterative; the initial proposition was continually revisited to build individual cases whilst allowing for new discoveries to be made. Memos served to bracket oneself against personal biases held about child development and the creative process; these were set aside, yet were key to listening and describing the lived experiences

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47 of the participants. Explanation building (Yin, 2014) was the analytic tool which allowed the formation of assertions about the collective cases (Stake, 2006). Findings ! The following case studies are presented as a narrative around the components of the CHAT activity system. A cross case analysis shall follow, organized using the guiding research questions. Names of the schools have been chang ed, and pseudonyms have been utilized for the subjects. Note that only teachers as participants were studied; the CHAT activity system is inclusive of communities of significant others, who serve roles of consequence in the system through division of labo r, which is organized around the object motive. In the following cases, the communities consist of co workers, administration, board members, parents, and children. What is presented here in regards to communities comes from participant interview data and direct observation of the participants only. Case Study Analysis ! Allie The subject of the ForestSchool activity system is Allie, who has been teaching for 11 years, began this program two years ago after being dissatisfied with extant preschool offerin gs for her own son. She holds a bachelor's degree in education, and a master's degree in environmental education. Allie was drawn to teach in early childhood because of "their enthusiasm for just life and learning," and is passionate about the European f orest kindergarten model; she began the ForestSchool as a way to combine her love of teaching with her love of nature. This is her object motive, and creativity development through free play is central to this.

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48 As a child, Allie often pretended she was a teacher during her play, and she spent a great deal of time hiking mountains and exploring the outdoors with her father. She speaks highly of the time she spent in free and imaginative play, and finds that her experiences with that helped shape her creat ivity development. Allie remembers, "As far as creativity, like drawing or painting, I always really loved it, but I was discouraged because I was told I had to be perfect" and that she struggled with writing, she felt she was never as good as her older s ister was. She recalls a time when her own clay piece was held up as an exemplar to her first grade class, she thought, "it was really beautiful but there's no way it could be mine because it was goodÉand it was!" As an adult learner in graduate school, Allie learned about nature journaling, and relates that she struggled with the process of sitting for an hour each day to write or draw, "I almost didn't know what to do when we first startedÉ I needed this clear expectation of what she (her professor) nee dedÉ but then at the end of the three weeks, I loved it!" Allie's school operates without a formal facility, and holds classes on public lands in all types of weather. The activity system's community of significant others consists of students, their pare nt(s) or caregiver(s), co teachers, and a board of directors. Parents attend the preschool classes with their child, as the program is currently unlicensed as a state approved preschool. Parental involvement in the classes ranges on a continuum from sitti ng to the side or being actively involved in each moment of their child's play. Co teachers divide the labor of teaching, and students are very much in charge of their own direction for learning as they explore the natural environment with their classmate s. The tools for this activity system consist of everything found in their immediate natural environment, scientific tools for inquiry, gardening tools, books, paints, or drawing

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49 media. The students' attire is also considered an important tool for this system; in all types of weather, the students must be prepared and take care of their bodies so as to engage in learning. Waders, boots, waterproof mittens, sun hats, and other hiking clothing is mandatory for the students access to nature exploration. T he rules concerning tool and language use are centered around awareness and free play within nature. Allie, and the community, explicitly teach about wild animal tracks, sign, and safety if wild animal encounters occur. Allie scaffolds the free play by h elping students learn to their own boundaries. This is exemplified in climbing (e.g. rocks or trees); the students direct their own explorations, but Allie and her co teachers are there to spot them and teach them how to climb safely. Allie explicitly co ntends that this appropriate risk taking skill is what helps build the students' confidence, "just by giving them the freedom to fully explore and be who they are." The parents have fears about climbing, but the community has built trust; Allie paraphrase s the parents with, "we're just going to leave because it's making us nervous," and they leave the children with the teachers. Allie speaks of how she scaffolds new students into the play of her school gradually, as the new students are used to being "ent ertained" by adults, and she needs to help them take initiative in their awareness and play. She may do this by modeling certain exploring or making behaviors (e.g. pressing leaves into mud), or by enlisting the help of the community of multi aged children who will draw the students into their play. The following statement demonstrates how rules, division of labor, tools, and the community work towards the object of creativity, by the end of the first month of attendance, They're creating their own games o r being involved with the other kinds in imaginative play, and with that comes sparks for creativity, which shows up later in their journals, in their writing, in their poemsÉ making that village, they make shops,

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50 they'll make little mud balls or mud ca kesÉ so they'll spend that time designing it, working together. Ð Allie These villages made by students are left on the public lands and are returned to for many weeks by the students so that the paracosms continue to evolve over time. The students also have nature journals, Allie provides tape and glue for them to collect and save their treasures, and to document their learning. Allie and her co teachers encourage the students to write in the journals wh enever they need or want to; the parents have reported that the students have grown to love their nature journals so much that they insist on taking them everywhere they go. The rules for language use in supporting curiosity and imagination through free play extends to the common practices of labeling objects or providing step by step instructions. Allie is cautious in how she explains things to students so as to allow for children's discoveries to lead learning; they must experience things first. In a n interaction during the observation, a parent was busily pointing out plant species by naming them to their child. When asking Allie how to pronounce "lichen," Allie responded by modeling questioning strategies without labeling the fungus to both engage the child in higher level thinking and to provide the parent with a possible script as a division of labor in child parent learning. Questions included, "Can you tell me what it looks like? How does it feel? What sort of texture does it have? Why do yo u think it grows there, on this rock?" Beth Beth, as subject, came to her current placement at PlaySchool after serving on its board once her own children completed preschool there. She has been teaching for six years, is training to become director cert ified, and continues her education through community college courses for certification purposes and due to interest. Both of her undergraduate and

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51 master's degrees are in philosophy, although Beth began her formal academic career with interests in math an d physics. Her curiosity led her attention to theory, "it was kind of a progression from science toward what we ought to do in our lives," and her considerations included environmental ethics and, eventually, educational ethics. Growing up as the daughte r of two political science professors, "a characteristic of my household was one where there was a lot of discussion" during mealtimes and when friends would visit. As a teenager unfamiliar with politics, Beth describes a certain freedom from parental dir ected goals for her, "I think that they kind of left me alone then, to kind of do what my own thing was," and as her father dropped her off at college he said, "you know, I just want you to take courses you're interested in." In speaking of her creative s elf, Beth explains, I think in terms of openness, in terms of information, in terms of perspectiveÉ I don't want to rush into a judgment and I think that if I try to pin something down that's when something can go wrong in a particular perspectiveÉ and so for me to be creative, that means I can actually be open to a lot of possibilities. Ð Beth The object motive for Beth can be found in her passion for educational ethics; creativity is an important part of her activity system. She asserts, So educatio nally, I think it's more important to build up what it means to be a human being and that means that it's not necessarily for a specific purpose but that it can be adaptable for a variety of purposesÉ but it has to be open and it has to be relevant to t he human being that they are. Ð Beth. Beth was drawn to work at the preschool, as she viewed what the teachers were doing was right for education. She worries about the impacts of didactic, teacher led curriculum, and finds that the work done at PlaySchoo l, "was not understood by most peopleÉ it seemed to be a minority perspective in terms of what's good for children" and that the right kind of education need s to take into account the viewpoint of the child.

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52 The tools for PlaySchool include materials and language use. Classes are held in English, with some Spanish spoken during group times or with parents. The school is housed on a large lot with room for outdoor play; in lieu of a formal play structure, there is a sizable sand pit with modular climbing apparatus that offers flexible use of space. The school itself is a former house, remodeled into an early learning center. An extensive inventory of materials have been accumulated over the years; found and recycled objects, paints, drawing media, homema de playdough are regularly used. Considerable variety exists in blocks, these may be used for child led numeracy, or for construction of spaceships, stages for performances, or anything the children need for their pretend play. There is a library, collec tion of musical instruments, real and pretend kitchen, dolls, and materials for scientific inquiry all accessible for children's use. The community of significant others includes John and Yvette (director and teacher, and director emeritus) whom Beth t eaches with, the students, parents (who co op within the class), and a board of directors. Beth interned at PlaySchool for two years before becoming a teacher; John and Yvette mentored her apprenticeship closely, advising her on what to observe in the cla ssroom and how to interact with students during their play and engagement with materials. Weekly meetings were held whereby they would discuss the possibilities for children interacting with the materials. It was during this time that Beth learned the ru les of PlaySchool; how to use materials, how to use language for possibilities. Beth explains how materials, language, and rules for their use in children's creativity development with, The idea is that there are children interacting in a situation wher e there are some materials, whether its sand or its beans or its blocks, art, and so you have to take a look at that in the moment activity and what is being done and what is being said and how the physical space is arranged, and you're doing that, and also removing

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53 obstaclesÉ I don't want to interact with a child in a way that is going to limit their creativity. Ð Beth Beth explains that language may hinder or help a creative response, and that she does not want to rush in. The rules of language, an d of possibilities, are of utmost importance to the curriculum. She actively considers the perspective of the child from myriad angles before speaking. When asked how she decides to remove an obstacle for a child (i.e. they do not want to get wet), she l isted many things that considered the thoughts of the child from a compassionate lens (e.g. the child loves their shirt, or the child had a bad experience with being wet). Beth is highly aware of the impact her words may have, and when she feels as if she has misinterpreted a situation, she actively "plans her retreat" so that she does not inhibit their play further. She does not want to limit curiosity and exploration, but also asserts that play is not a "free for all" and that while a play based approach is important, "it needs to be qualifiedÉ you have to have knowledgeable teachers... they know theory on their own, they're not applying someone else's curriculum but creating their own." Division of labor is exemplified with, "I have certain ideas, but I don't want to impose my ideas, that's not learning for them." Beth also sets up woodworking for children with appropriate safety precautions, children use real hammers and real nails, demonstrating a trust in children to do their own work safely. Beth h elps children develop technique in their play and in their making as a way for the children to access further learning (i.e. a certain pattern of tower building after multiple failures, if they need it, or application of glue). Beth makes sure that childr en's constructions (i.e. a rocketship) are left up for the duration of the children's paracosms, and she utilizes the space flexibly to allow for this to happen. Further, the community of parents who co op are given opportunity to learn these rules for po ssibilities thinking through parent meetings; videos of children interacting with materials

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54 and each other are viewed while suggestions for engagement are offered using the theories of Piaget, Vygotsky, amongst others. Catherine As a subject, Catherine is the teacher and director of a new preschool, operating its first year out of a new community based arts center. Her teaching pathway was not very direct; her undergraduate degree is in langua ges, Spanish and French, and completed some master's coursework , but she does further her education through continuing education credits that she is interested in. She came to her preschool after traveling and exploring secondary teaching, but ultimately decided that teaching younger kids was a good fit for her. Pri or to being at ArtSchool, she taught in an unlicensed, play based preschool, and has worked extensively within her community teaching art, and was involved in her church. As a child, Catherine was the youngest of a large family, and the children did not r eceive a lot of direction in regards to creativity. She said, "my parents just didn't have time, to kind of say, Ôoh here's a bunch of stuff and do that'É just, like, figure it out. I think that my siblings and I did, we were all creative in our own ways." In middle school, Catherine had the opportunity to major in art, and she was exposed to many new processes and explored materials. In speaking of her creative self, she admits, "I like novelty to be honest with you," and while she does not cons ider herself a talented visual artist, she does enjoy trying "a lot of different things" and uses her free time to explore building with new materials (i.e. cement, wood, paint). The object motive for Catherine is the implementation of an arts based presc hool, and fostering creativity is a significant aspect of this; she was attracted to the freedom and autonomy of beginning a program. Catherine views creativity as inherent in art and art

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55 making. To do this, Catherine is working to create an environment that is unlike a traditional preschool where "all projects look exactly the same, where each bead needs to go in a specific spot." She has a grandson that attends a mainstream preschool, and she does not like how he must complete work where he i s expected to color within the lines, and do adult directed work with a "prescribed expectation of what they do." The community of significant others in this system consists of the children, the parents, employees of the art center, and a local art museum; Catherin e teaches alone to a small group of children. Catherine takes classes at the art museum, and the instructors give lessons and ideas in how to teach math and science creatively. Catherine also visits local preschools for ideas. The dance teacher at the c enter takes the children once per week for lessons, and she gives them stickers for doing a good job. The art center director operates the new facility with a limited budget; the preschool classroom is a multi purpose room, and as such, the preschool mate rials need to be stowed each night. The children's art making and craft projects are up on the walls, but the walls do need to be kept as neutral as possible. The parents do enjoy art projects that come home (and often expect a product), but feedback has suggested that they want a more academic, rigid program. Catherine's use of tools within the activity system consist of language and art materials, along with a flexible use of space. The outside area for the children is a non landscaped field of loca l weeds and grasses, and the director and Catherine hope to add a play structure, musical instruments, and an interactive fence with a chalkboard, knobs, and string for design making so that the kids have more opportunities outside. The materials (tools) within the classroom consist of paints, paper, scissors, drawing media, water table, blocks, play tent, dolls, transportation toys, craft items, and books, amongst other things.

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56 Rules tie directly into tool utilization. Catherine teac hes using a mixtur e of Spanish and English as part of the school's foundational goal to be inclusive of language use. Catherine finds that hearing things in other languages helps develop creativity as it exposes the child to something new, and requires one to think differe ntly about things while providing opportunity to be more observant to cues. They have to get creative with how they do that (communicate) because it's not the normal Ôhey get over here' you know? They have to come over and it's usually more physical cues to engage them. Catherine. Catherine is keen to advocate for an openness to how the children go about their activities; the work of the children is largely centered around extensive material offerings. In a class of six students, the class had a c onstruction area, a literacy center, and five tables with separate offerings for activity which included water table with plastic ducks and real leaves, lego, beads and chenille stems, small figurine toys, and a number match up activity. The students had asked for more scissor use, so Catherine has a cart with scrap paper, drawing media, and scissors available at all times. She mentioned, "I decided I needed to have that out everyday because that's what they want to do, I don't want to say, Ôno, we're not doing that today.' If they have that urge to do it, I want them to be able to follow it." Catherine moves around her room, visiting each child for a few minutes at a time. Common repeated comments from Catherine are, anything you want or what do you think? She has themed activities aimed at numeracy or literacy, but if a child takes the activity into a new direction (i.e. instead of matching quantities for number sense the child discovers area with the materials), she lets them be. Catherine mu st flexibly use her space as it is a multi purpose room; after each session, materials must be stowed for other classes.

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57 Cross Case Analysis ! There is significant overlap between a teacher's development of a creativity conceptualization, and how it influ ences their practice due to the interrelated nature of activity systems. This cross case analysis endeavors to organize the themes around the three guiding research questions whilst recognizing this inherent overlap. Development of Creativity It emerged from the data that a teacher's lifetime experience and development of their creative self helped frame their conceptualization of it. The prior experiences of the teachers were striking in that their current practices reflected their stories from their li fespan. This is offers alignment to CHAT activity systems whereby people bring their cultural/historical experience into the systems. Allie brought her passion for nature into schooling by starting the ForestSchool, which is a clear reflection of her pre tend play and exploration of the outdoors during childhood. Beth was provided opportunity to explore her own interests as she grew up, and she brings her experience of in depth family discussions and possibilities thinking into how she interacts directly with children. Catherine enjoyed an openness and freedom to explore various media free from an adult agenda, and she aims to bring this into her art making classes by providing ample materials. CHAT activity systems exemplify the idea that we are what we do in everyday life, as situated within our cultural/historical context. The preschool activity systems continue to develop the creativity and learning of these teachers. Allie noted how her definition of creativity has changed as a result of her practi ce, My natural reaction, before starting this (school) would have just been art, like painting, pottery, different various parts of art, but I think that after starting this forest kindergarten, creativity can happen all over. Ð Allie

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58 Beth noted that s he came to work at PlaySchool with a knowledge of how her own children developed, but as she worked with her mentors, she asked herself, "how do I change so that I know something about how all learn and develop?" Catherine, upon reflecting on her first ye ar as a new director , spoke of starting a program and licensing with, "it was a challenge!... it's a whole new arena for me." Definitions and Conceptualizations of Creativity None of the teachers were familiar with researchers' explicit theories or standa rd definitions of creativity in regards to the appropriateness requirement, nor were any of them explicitly taught about creativity in their undergraduate education. Creativity was explicitly covered during graduate work, continuing education units, and d uring internships. Beth thinks of "creativity in terms of using materials and thoughts and expression in new ways and in new purposes that people, other people haven't." Allie paused, and said, "I think creativity involves a lot" before giving examples of how her students behave and produce creativity in her school. Catherine explained that, I think it's being able to think and produce without boundaries, without limits. It's a freedom, I think this sense of being free to express and explore in a way that doesn't feel limited or inhibited is importantÉ is a necessary component. Ð Catherine. Teachers viewed the creative process as directly related to play, exploration, and openness. While they all have their own rules for language use, there are str iking similarities to how the teachers view creativity as integral to play, and vice versa. Allie notes she holds a working definition of creativity, but that "imaginative playÉ is vital for creativity" and that "creating things out of sticks and the natu ral things in their environment" nurtures creativity development as students are making and doing with what they have. Catherine views creativity as inherent in art and art making, she is keen on exposure to many materials and

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59 having students lead their d iscoveries with the media available. Beth also speaks of openness, and of having materials to manipulate, but also notes that, "there is some element of technique that they might need help with in terms of not becoming overwhelmed with what's around them, and helping them to focus their own attention." The creative production output by the children is closely related to the creative process for these teachers. At ArtSchool, Catherine finds activities for the children to engage in that are centralized around a theme (e.g. weather, Dr. Seuss). The children engage in product making; she will only offer an exemplar if students ask, and usually teaches the project process through spoken language. One product observed was a stuffed paper cloud; the students could construct and paint the cloud with her verbal guidance. At ForestSchool, Allie relates how the students constructed an entire village (complete with shops and products, and an entire government system) out of found, natural materials. At PlaySchoo l, Beth spoke about the stories that emerged from the students' drawings that were highly personal to the child; the stories and drawings helped the child make sense of their lives and were authored into their self constructed books. Yet all teachers valu ed the process over the product in varying degrees. Children's creative behaviors and traits as described by teachers are very much dependent on the processes and object motives for the schools. Beth speaks of an "openness to perspective" in children's c onversations and views curiosity as part of this; she also spoke of creative children approaching materials with an attitude or approach to explore possibilities, without necessarily accepting the first iterations as complete. Allie views children being c reative when they "create with the materials that they have, with just what's around them." Catherine echoes this with, "they think independently; they see materials and

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60 just situations in a that that might not be expected; they communicate their ideas we ll, not necessarily verballyÉ by showing, building." Manifestations of Creativity Across Activity Systems In their teaching practice, each teacher believes that creativity is inherent within their pedagogical model. While each one of these teachers expli citly spoke of openness, freedom, exploration, and possibilities in relation to creativity as a concept, it is extremely important to note that this freedom is not haphazard, unsupervised, or random. The teachers all have rules with language and tools tha t moderate the open ended nature of their creativity conceptualizations in practice. The creativity for the children, as facilitated by the teachers, indeed has direction. Each teacher provides a specific frame from which creativity might develop, both w ithin themselves as director/teachers, and with their students in the ZPD. Allie 's ForestSchool does not provide exploration in a dance studio to develop creativity, just as Catherine's ArtSchool does not provide the freedom to explore risk taking during a rock climbing session. There is direction in the type of freedom to be open ended with materials and tools. The cultural/historical influence of current educational norms has impacted the decisions of these teachers to teach where they do, and how they do. This is inherent in the object motives for the teachers. Each teacher expressed serious concern over the push down of academics to preschool aged children. In speaking of academic preschools, Allie finds that teachers approach learning with, " Ôthi s is my objective, this is what you need to learn at this time,' instead of letting them be curious about thingsÉ everything seems to be forced, instead of letting that natural curiosity just happen." Catherine remarked that the arts in education are very important, and she sees great value in the arts as a "healthy outlet" for

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61 expression for "various types of learners", but is underfunded. Beth explained, "just having a play based school is something that is starting to be valuedÉ there's also people who are trying to push a lot of specific curriculum down into a preschool environment." The object motive for each teacher was creativity, but creativity as an integral component of their overarching pedagogical goal. Thus, while creativity was indeed important for each teacher, it was but one of many curricular factors within their schools. Key themes which guided the teachers practice can be summarized succinctly for each teacher. Al lie's motive while teaching for creativity is access to free play, awareness, and exploration within nature, Beth's motive is to carefully scaffold possibilities for learning and curiosity for an interesting world through play, and Catherine's motive is to provide open ended use of materials to create art in a multi lingual environment. All teachers vocalized and demonstrated a strong belief in the importance of social emotional learning (SEL), with Beth being a particularly strong advocate for attachment. Ally describes the ForestSchool model as being particularly helpful in developing students' self esteem and greater self confidence; teachers in mainstream kindergartens who teach Ally' s former students report that the students' SEL development is at a third grade level in maturity. Catherine regards SEL as "foundational to the rest of our lives" and that "healthy communication" development is facilitated by the presentation of material s from which to create. The teachers also were unanimously opposed to using extrinsic motivators (in the form of gratuitous verbal praise or tangible awards) with their students. I'm not huge on giving rewardsÉ you want intrinsic learners, that's idealÉ I try not to put a value on things that they've done, and they'll determine for themselvesÉ I'm not big on saying Ôoh wow, that's beautiful,' I don't think that's actually good for them. Catherine.

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62 So we don't have rewards or punishments, and those c an kill creativity for sure you don't want to have a child think that they need to complete an activity to please someone else, because, I mean, why do I care what they have shown me? They need to care about it themselves, and they need to be motivate d on their own to discover and learn. Beth. As each teacher has brought their own histories with creativity and their lifespan experience into their activity systems; how creativity is manifested within their systems is also influenced by their teachi ng practice within their system. A key point however, is that the object motive (to nurture creativity through their own pedagogical lens) would not be possible without the activity system; the community and the division of labor sanction and promote each subject's manifestation of creativity, as based on their conceptualization that developed over the lifespan. Discussion ! Strengths and Limitations This research is important in that it does not deliberately maintain a strict definition of creativity, nor does it evaluate teachers' practices. This study sought to understand how creativity was formed for individuals who hold a valuable role in the intellectual, emotional, and creative development of young children. A limitation to this study was that it came from a seeming monocultural lens within mainstream United States. The participants were White females, and while 84% of teachers in the United States are White (Hrabowski & Sanders, 2015), the study is not representative of teachers' voices from marginalized communities. The students, while not explicitly studied, attend non profit preschools that do not rely on public early childhood educational funds for operational costs; sliding scales are available for low income families in one of the schoo ls. However, only a small percentage of students within this particular state are eligible

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63 for state funded preschool access . Furthermore, creativity, as studied cross culturally, impacts how creativity is conceptualized and actualized (Tsai, 2012); the majority of creativity research thus far has been from a Western viewpoint. Finally, this research could have been strengthened by utilizing the entirety of the CHAT activity system by interviewing, observing, and documenting all members of the community of significant others. Implications for Practice and Research Future research is necessary to investigate how children are developing their creativity processes within the varied educational contexts as presented in this research. A focus on the collabor ative nature of children's work, and the improvisational actions of teachers based on the work of Sawyer (2009) could provide a lens to the ZPD space where creativity development actively happens. For practice, policy makers and educationalists are advo cating for the promotion of creativity within the classroom. There is also a current debate in the United States for "school choice." The educational contexts presented here offer a view into how creativity is practiced by experienced teachers using vari ous pedagogical approaches. The complexity of their teaching practices during these complex times are important to understand, and their practices are critical to value during a time when listening to the varied, rich experiences of people's ideas and pas sions has never been more consequential as we try to solve the world's great challenges. Conclusion This research investigated the creativity conceptualizations and manifestations thereof of preschool teachers working in a variety of educational context s. The schools, as activity

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64 systems, were studied. The teachers as subjects, and their communities of significant others, had specific pedagogical lenses which included the development and support of creativity as object motive. These motives framed the creativity practices for the activity systems. These systems, focusing on individual teachers as influenced by their cultural/historical experience, were presented as individual case studies; their prior experience with creativity appeared to influence t heir conceptualizations. A cross case analysis followed to answer the guiding research questions. The findings presented that these teachers conceptualize creativity with a focus on openness, freedom, exploration, and possibilities, without an explicit mention of "appropriateness" as dictated by the standard definition of creativity. Their conceptualizations though, are continuously evolving through their activity systems. The teachers' manifestations of creative practices within their systems demonst rated that the process and products of creativity were guided by tools (materials), and rules highly integrated with, and exemplified by, their strong beliefs in what constitutes appropriate early childhood education. Their activity systems allow for thi s to happen. These practices are inclusive of play and open ended experiences that are scaffolded according to the teacher's pedagogy, which has been shaped by their experiences and reactions to their cultural/historical environment. Therefore, the appro priateness, or useful, component of creativity is evident in how teachers conceptualize and practice what they strongly advocate is good and just for developing minds.

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65 CHAPTER V GLOBAL DISCUSSION ! Using activity systems is appropriate for investigating a construct as complex as creativity. Creative behaviors, products, processes, and the conceptualizations of such as they emerge through the lived experiences of teachers was studied. While there ar e many explicit theories of creativity, there is room for growth in our understanding of how young children engage in creative development. Just as there are myriad understandings of creativity within the research literature, there are varied ways in whic h creativity is practiced by preschool teachers. This research provides a window to view teacher's perceptions, and gives a holistic view as to the reasoning behind their creativity practices in the classroom. This is important, to listen to teachers' opinions and reasonings, especially in a time of great change. Creativity, and teaching for it, is here to stay, and this human skill, of seeing things and doing things in new, innovative ways, will help us as a global society move forward and adapt, as w e always have evolved, to the pressing challenges that face our planet. What is salient for future work in creativity in education is that there is seemingly significant overlap with the teachers' practices, (working outside of mainstream education) and of current creativity research: everyday creativity, pathways, and collaborative creativities. Subsequent research needs to further investigate the entirety of such activity systems, and to query the creative development of students within these context s. This research presents people, as influenced by their experiences both past and present, as active agents for implementing creativity through their strong motivations for educational alternatives. Their viewpoints and practices are important to list en to, and to

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66 learn from, during this time of great divide. As we work to collectively nurture innovators in the 21 st century, who will help solve the world's greatest issues, who will help heal our cultures, we must remember that creativity, as an inherent human capability that allows for our evolution, it is the children's play, imagination, and curiosity that must be protected as a fundamental element of the human experience to develop fully. The research presented here provides a brief window into the lives and practices of those who are motivated, and actively working towards just that.

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70 Gl " veanu, V. P. (2011). Children and creativity: A most (un)likely pair? Thinking Skills and Creativity. 6 (2), 122 131. doi: 10.1016/j.tsc.2011.03.002 Gralewski, J., Karwowski, M. (2013). Polite girls and creative boys? Students' gender moderates accuracy of teachers' ratings of creativity. Journal of Creative Behavior. 47 (4), 290 304. doi: 10.1002/jocb.3 6 Guilford, J. P. (1950). Creativity. The American Psychologist. 5 (9), 444 454. doi: 10.1037/h0063487 Hakkarainen, P. (1999). Play and motivation. In Y. Engestr šm, R. Miettinen, R., & R. PunamŠki (Eds.) Perspectives on Activity Theory . ( .) Camb ridge, UK: Cambridge University Press Hatt, B. E., & Maynes, N. (2013). Thin ICE for pre service teachers: An examination of imagination creativity education in Canadian teacher education. In L. Thomas (Ed.) What is Canadian about Teacher Education in Canada? Multiple perspectives on Canadian Teacher Education in the Twenty First Century. (pp. 420 445). Winnepeg, Canada: Canadian Association for Teacher Education. Henriksen, D., Mishra, P., & Fisser, P. (2016). Infusing creativity and technology in 21 st century education: A systemic view for change. Educational Technology & Society. 19 (3), 27 37. Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/jeductechsoci. 19.3.27.pdf?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents Holzman, L. (2010). Without creating ZPDs there is no creativity. In V. John Steiner, M. C. Connery, & A. Marjanovic Shane (Eds.) Vygotsky and Creativity: A Cultural historical Approach to Play, Meaning Making, and the Arts. New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing Hondzel, C. D., & Hansen, R. (20 15). Associating creativity, context, and experiential learning. Education Inquiry. 6 (2), 177 190. doi: 10.3402/edui.v6.23403 Hrabowski, F. A., & Sanders, M. G. (2015). Increasing diversity in the teacher workforce: One university's approach. Thought and Action. 4, 101 116. Retrieved from: https://www.nea.org/assets/docs/Hrabowski_101 116_Layout%202 REV.pdf Jeffrey, B., & Craft, A. (2001). The universalization of creativity. In A. Craft, B. Jeffrey, & M. Leibling (Eds.), Creativity in Educ ation. London, UK: Continuum Johnson, R. B., & Christensen, L. (2014). Educational Research: Quantitative, Qualitative, and Mixed Approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

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72 Leontiev, A. N. (1974). The problem of activity in psychology. Soviet Psychology. 13 (2), 4 33. doi: 10.2753/RPO1061 040513024 Leontiev, A. N. (2009). Activity and Consciousness . In N. Schmolze (Ed.), Activity, Consciousness, and Personality. Marxist Internet Archive, 2000. (Reprinted from: Activity, Consciousness, and Personality, by A. N. Leontiev, (M. J. Hall, Trans.), 1978, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall ) Retrieved from: https://www.marxists.org/ archive/leontev/works/1978/ Lillard, A. S., Lerner, M. D., Hopkins, E. J., Dore, R. A., Smith, E. D., & Palmquist, C. M. (2012). The impact of pretend play on children's development: A review of the evidence. Psychological Bulletin. 139 (1), 1 34. doi: 10.1037/a0029321 Mottweiler, C. M., & Taylor, M. (2014). Elaborated role play and creativity in preschool age children. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts. 8 (3), 277 286. doi: 10.1037/a 0036083 Mullet, D. R., Willerson, A., Lamb, K. N., Kettler, T. (2016). Examining teacher perceptions of creativity: A systematic review of the literature. Thinking Skills and Creativity. 21, 9 30. doi: 10.1016/j.tsc.2016.05.001 Nardi, B. A. (2005). Objects of desire: Power and passion in collaborative activity. Mind, Culture, and Activity. 12, 4 18. doi: 10.1207/s15327884mca1201 Nussbaumer, D. (2012). An overview of cultural historical activity theory (CHAT) use in classroom research 2000 2009. Educational Review. 64, 37 55. doi: 10.0180/00131911.2011.553947 Pajares, M. (1992). Teachers' beliefs and educational research: Cleaning up a messy construct. Review of Educational Research. 62 (3), 307 332. doi: 10.3102/003465430620 03307 Plucker, J. A., Beghetto, R. A., & Dow, G. T. (2004). Why isn't creativity more important to educational psychologists? Potentials, pitfalls, and future directions in creativity research. Educational Psychologist, 39 (2), 83 96. doi: 10.1207/s15326985ep3902_1 Robinson, K. (2015). Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That's Transforming Education. New York, NY: Viking Richards, R. (2007). Everyday creativity: Our hidden potential. In R. Richards (Ed.) Everyday Creativ ity and New Views of Human Nature. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association Root Bernstein, M., & Root Bernstein, R. (2006). Imaginary worldplay in childhood and maturity and its impact on adult creativity. Creativity Research Journal. 18 (4) , 405 425. doi: 10.1207/s15326934crj1804_1

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73 Rubenstein, L., McCoach, D, & Siegle, D. (2013). Teaching for creativity scales: An instrument to examine teachers' perceptions of factors that allow for the teaching of creativity. Creativity Research Journ al. 25 (3), 324 334. doi: 10.1080/ 10400419.2013.813807 Runco, M. A., & Jaeger, G. J. (2012). The standard definition of creativity. Creativity Research Journal. 24 (1), 92 96. doi: 10.1080/10400419.2012.650092 Russ, S. W. (2014). Pretend Play in Childhood: Foundations of Adult Creativity. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association Russ, S. W., & Dillon, J. A. (2011). Changes in children's pretend play over two decades. Creativity Research Journal. 23 (4), 330 338. doi: 10.1080/10 400419.2011.621824 Saracho, O. (2012). Creativity theories and related teachers' beliefs. Early Child Development and Care. 182 (1), 35 44. doi: 10.1080/03004430.2010.535899 Sawyer, R. K. (2006). Educating for innovation. Thinking Skills and Innova tion. 1 (1), 41 48. doi: 10.1016/j.tsc.2005.08.001 Sawyer, R. K. (2012). Explaining creativity: The science of human innovation. 2 nd ed. Oxford University Press. New York. Sawyer, R. K., & de Z utter, S. (2009). Distributed creativity: How collective creations emerge from collaboration. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts. 3 (2), 81 92. doi: 10.1037/a0013282 Sawyer, R. K., John Steiner, V., Moran, S., Sternberg, R. J., Feldman , D. H., Nakamura, J., & Csikzentmihalyi, M. (2003). Key issues in creativity and development. In R. K. Sawyer, V. John Steiner, S. Moran, R. J. Sternberg, D. H. Feldman, J. Nakamura, M. Csikzentmihalyi (Eds.) Creativity and Development. New York, NY : Oxford University Press Scott, C. L. (1999). Teachers' biases toward creative children. Creativity Research Journal. 12 (4), 321 328. doi: 10.1207/s15326934crj1204 Shontz, F. C. (2013). Forward. In: Teaching creatively and teaching for creativity. Eds, Gregerson, M. B., Snyder, H. T., Kaufman, J. C. New York, NY: Springer. Silverman, I. W. (2016). In defense of the play creativity hypothesis. Creativity Research Journal. 28 (2), 136 143. doi: 10.1080/10400419.2016.1162560 Snyder, H. T., Gregerson, M. B., & Kaufman, J. C. (2013). Preface . In M. B. Gregerson, H. T. Snyder, & J. C. Kaufman (Eds.) Teaching Creatively and Teaching Creativity. (xi xiv). New York, NY: Springer

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74 Stake, R. E. Multiple Case Study Analysis. New York, NY: The Guilford Press Sternberg, R. (2007). Creativity as a habit. In A. Tan (Ed.), Creativity: A Handbook for Teachers. pp. 3 25 Singapore: World Scientific Stetsenko, A., & Arievitch, I. M. (2004). The self in cultural historical activity theory: Reclaiming the unity of social and individual dimensions of human development. Theory and Psychology. 14 (4), 475 503. doi: 10.1177/0959354304044921 Tanggaard, L. (2015). The creative pathways of everyday life. Journal of Creative Behavior. 49 (3), 181 193. doi: 10.1002/jo cb.95 Treffinger, D. J. (2003). Assessment and measurement in creativity and creative problem solving. In J. Houtz (Ed.), The Educational Psychology of Creativity. (pp. 59 93) Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press Tsai, K. C. (2012). The interplay between culture and creativity. Cross Cultural Communication. 8 (2), 15 20. doi: 10.3968/j.ccc.1923670020120802.1360 van der Riet, M. (2010). [Mary van der Riet]. (2010, September 2). An introduction to activity theory (part 1). (video file). Ret rieved from: https://vimeo.com/14632565 Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes. In M. Cole, V. John Steiner, S. Scribner, & E. Souberman (Eds.) Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press Vygotsky, L. S. (2004). Imagination and creativity in childhood. Journal of Russian and East European Psychology. 42 (1), 7 97. doi: 10.2753/RPO1061 0405290173 Wallas, G. (1926). The Art of Thought. New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace, and Company Westby, E. L., & Dawson, V. L. (1995). Creativity: Asset or burden in the classroom? Creativity Research Journal. 8, 1 10. doi: 10.1207/s15326934crj0801_1 Yamagata Lynch, L. C. (2010). Activity Systems Analysis and Methods: Understanding Complex Learning Environme nts. New York, NY: Springer doi: 10.1007/978 1 4419 6321 5 Yin, R. K. (2014). Case Study Research: Design and Methods 5 th Edition. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Zappe, S., Mena, I, & Litzinger, T. (2013, March) Creativity is Not a Purple Dragon. Paper presented at the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance 17 th Annual Conference, Washington, DC. Retrieved from: http://apps.nciia.org/sites/default/ files/features/conference/2013/papers/zappe.pdf

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75 APPENDIX A: UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO DENVE R COLORADO MULTI PLE INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD (COMIRB) APPROVAL

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76 APPENDIX B: UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO DENVER COLORADO MULTI PLE INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD (COMIRB) AMENDMENT APPROVAL

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77 APPENDIX C: INTERVIEW CONSENT Study Title: Teachers' Conceptualizations of Creativity in Early Childhood Educational Contexts Principal Investigator: Erin Philip Eaton COMIRB No: 17 7838 Version Date: 02/22/17 You are being asked to be in this research study because you are a preschool educator. If you join the study, you will be interviewed for approximately 45 minutes and you will be observed in your classroom for approximately 1 hour. This study is designed to learn more about creativity in education. Possible discomforts or risks include discomfort in not understanding a question or hesitancy in asking for clarification, becoming tired from speaking for periods of time. Attending an interview may be inconvenient. Mild discomfort may arise due to being observed. There may be risks the researchers have not thought of. Every effort will be made to protect your privacy and confidentiality by: de identifying your personal information, using an encrypted computer, a secure server, and by deleting data from collection devices. Yo u have a choice about being in this study. You do not have to be in this study if you do not want to be. If you have questions, you can call Ruben Viramontez Anguiano at 419 806 9179 You can call and ask questions at any time. You may have question s about your rights as someone in this study. If you have questions, you can call the COMIRB ( the responsible Institutional Review Board). Their number is (303) 724 1055.

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78 APPENDIX D: INTERVIEW GUIDE Semi Structured Interview Guide Background Information How many years have you been teaching? What was your teacher training (pathway)? Tell me about your teaching experience. What is your current position? What brought you to your current post? On Creativity (self) What is your definition of creativity? Talk to me about your creative self . How was creativity supported for you growing up? (family, schooling) How was creativity hindered for you? Can you pinpoint a time when your creativity was shut down? Tell me about yo ur teacher trainingÉ how was creativity addressed? On Creativity in Schools Do you think creativity can be taught? (How so? Why is that?) What does the creative child do? What does that look like? About your current school, how is creativity supported there? Is it hindered in anyway? Tell me about what motivators your school advocates. On Components Necessary for Creativity What is necessary for creativity to develop in students? What are your thoughts on: Observation Questioning B oredom Confusion/Frustration What is your familiarity with creativity research or creativity theories? Interview Complete.

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79 APPENDIX E. CULTURAL/HISTORICAL ACTIVITY THEORY DIAGRAM Note. Adapted from Engestr šm , Y. (2015). Learning by Expanding: An Activity Theoretical Approach to Developmental Research. 2 nd Edition. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press Subject Tools (materials & language) Objects Outcome Rules Community Division of Labor