Loughborough University
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The importance of classroom climate in fostering student creativity in Design & Technology lessons.

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posted on 2008-08-01, 09:15 authored by Ros McLellan, Bill Nicholl
D&T educators have pointed to a ‘crisis’ in creativity within the subject. Research has indicated that organisational climate, defined as ‘the recurring patterns of behaviour, attitudes and feelings that characterise life in the organisation’, can help or hinder creativity. Hence ‘climate’ is a potential explanatory factor for the lack of creativity documented in student outcomes. This paper, therefore, explores whether the classroom climate experienced by secondary students (aged 11-16 years) in D&T lessons is conducive for creativity. Data are drawn from a number of sources including student (N=126) and teacher (N=14) interviews and student (N=4996) and teacher (N=69) questionnaires gathered across a total of 15 schools, as part of an ongoing Gatsbyfunded research and intervention project. Coded data and survey questions relating to the nine climate dimensions outlined in Ekvall and Isaksen’s climate model were identified. The paper focuses on two of these dimensions; challenge and freedom. The analysis revealed that students felt much of the work they do lacks challenge and freedom, hence they do not perceive the climate in their classrooms as conducive for creativity. Teachers’ perceptions differed somewhat and this is discussed with reference to the performativity culture in which they are located. Whilst acknowledging the difficulties this poses it is argued that, as the literature indicates climate is ‘in the hands of the manager’, teachers can change their practice to enable creativity to flourish. Tentative suggestions for ways forward are suggested.



  • Design

Research Unit

  • D&T Association Conference Series


MCLELLAN, R. and NICHOLL, B., 2008. The importance of classroom climate in fostering student creativity in Design & Technology lessons. IN: Norman, E.W.L. and Spendlove, D. (eds.). The Design and Technology Association International Research Conference, [Loughborough University, 2-4 July]. Wellesbourne : The Design and Technology Association, pp. 29-39.



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