Research Statement and Experience

Research Statement

My research interests include creativity in education, teacher identity, alternative teaching strategies, the impact of technology on learning, and arts in education. My first academic research experience was at UH Hilo for my Master of Education degree. I conducted a qualitative case study to investigate the way involvement in the performing arts impacted students’ social and emotional skills. I found that active participation in a musical theatre production positively impacted students’ social awareness, decision making, self-management, and relationship management.

Two years into my doctoral studies at Michigan State University I conducted a research study on creativity in teaching and learning. The purpose of the study was to create a tool that could help teachers support student creativity. I conducted an extensive review of literature and classroom observations to identify elements that contribute to the support of student creativity in learning environments. I found that three key areas foster student creativity: learner engagement, the physical environment, and the learning climate. These three areas provide the foundation for the SCALE – a tool I created that identifies 14 items that can be used to assess a teacher’s support of student creativity. The items on the SCALE describe learning tasks, classroom practices, interactions between teachers and learners, and the physical environment. I published an article on this study in the journal Thinking Skills and Creativity (see Richardson & Mishra, 2018). (Click on SCALE in the menu options above for more information.)

While a doctoral student at MSU I co-taught a design thinking course (CEP 817 – Learning Technology by Design) that resulted in a collaboration between Danah Henriksen and myself as we looked at the impact that the design thinking process had on the teachers who were enrolled in our course. We have written three articles to date that describe the impact that using design thinking had on teachers as they used it to solve complex problems of practice. We also studied teacher identity and discovered that as teachers were put into the role of creative problem solvers, they began to see themselves as designers and creators, rather than followers or facilitators of outside ideas and curricula (see Henriksen, Richardson, & Mehta, 2017 and Henriksen & Richardson, 2017).

At MSU I joined the Deep-Play Research Group led by Punya Mishra. The group does a variety of work focused on creativity, technology, and education. As a part of this group I have participated in a variety of writing and research projects that included data analysis, writing, editing, and reviewing. Our most recent project has been a recurring column in Tech Trends that highlights the ideas and research of different creativity scholars.

My dissertation reflects my interest in creativity and collaboration. My study merged theory and practice in an action research process that engaged teachers and instructional coaches in the development of a framework to support creativity and collaboration among teachers as they designed new learning experiences. The framework created by the team of educators is titled The i5 Framework for Education: Methods and Mindsets to Support Collaborative Creativity. Engaging in the development and use of the framework was found to impact the creativity and collaboration of the participating teachers, their teaching, and the learning of their students. I found that creativity is a mindset inherent in effective teaching and that creative synthesis is key to innovative change. The framework provided opportunities for interdependence of thinking and co-construction; it supported seeking and sharing multiple perspectives; and provided ongoing opportunities for reflection and feedback. Using The i5 Framework helped teachers design new learning experiences that supported deep thinking and cultural connections in their students. I am currently working on three articles to publish the findings of my dissertation. (For more information please click on The i5 Framework in the menu above.)

I have established a line of work around creativity that I will continue to pursue on my own and as part of the Deep-Play Research Group. In the future I plan on engaging in research that is based in educational contexts and is done in partnership with outside organizations, schools, and the Hawaii DOE. I hope to engage in research projects that are relevant to students in Hawai’i’s schools.

References

Richardson, C., & Mishra, P. (2018). Learning environments that support student creativity: Developing the SCALE. Thinking Skills and Creativity27, 45– 54. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tsc.2017.11.004

Henriksen, D., Richardson, C. & Mehta, R. (2017). Design thinking: a creative approach to          educational problems of practice. Thinking Skills & Creativity, 26, 140-153.

Henriksen, D. & Richardson, C. (2017). Teachers are designers: Addressing problems of practice in education. Phi Delta Kappan, 99(2). (pp. 60-64).

 

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