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Maximizing creativity and learning in schools: how can students become best prepared to find success in our modern society?

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CHECK OUT THIS RSA ANIMATE VIDEO FOR SOME MORE INFORMATION ON CREATIVITY IN EDUCATION


Empathy Interview

Before I set about modeling this issue with game theory, I conducted an empathy interview to understand the issue of creativity in schools in greater depth from a teacher’s perspective. I interviewed a professor emeritus of computer science. Here are some main takeaways from the interview:

  1. It is integral for students to learn to be creative and solve things on their own
  2. It can be beneficial to tell students to do things one way if this one way is the most efficient or effective way to solve a problem
  3. There is often a tension between a students goals: they want to get good grades, but this can sometimes get in the way of them diving deep into their interests and making the time and sacrifices to surpass standards
  4. It is in the schools interest for students to follow rules and perform well
  5. There were times when the tests he had to give and textbooks he had to cover constrained his teaching and prevented him from always running the class how he would ideally
  6. Teaching was sometimes “like a factory”: students came in and went out knowing what they needed to get done
  7. 50% 50% is a good balance for creative learning and textbook learning

Players & Strategies

From the information gained in my empathy interview and my investigation into the findings of teachers and researchers examining creativity and educational psychology, I have decided to focus on the following players and strategies.

PLAYERS: students & teachers

STRATEGIES (what courses of actions students and teachers could take to maximize creativity and learning in class):

TEACHER STRATEGIES: create a curriculum with…

  • A: less lecture and more active learning (including labs or other hands on activities) to increase student engagement and independent, creative thinking
  • B: less standardized testing and more big creative projects (projects where students have more freedom, less rules, and can solve issues of interest to them)
  • C: more low stakes creative projects (that have a lower effect on grades) to give students more room to think big and step out of their comfort zones
  • D: lower homework to give students more time to possible explore their interests and engage in creative ventures

STUDENT STRATEGIES:

  • A: engage in more creative projects outside of school
  • B: become memorization machines, focus on repeating back information
  • C: Try to be as creative as possible with school assignments

Outcome & Utilities (values for each outcome)

*Utilities are from assigned -10 to 10

Teacher strategy A & student strategy A: (5,5)

  • Receives a utility of 5 for the teacher because their students are more engaged, and the teachers have more variety in their teaching.
  • Receives a utility of 5 for the students because they are more engaged in class and have the opportunity to think more critically and creatively in school. However, simply adding more hands on activities may not be a big enough change to meaningfully affect creativity levels in schools. Students are also improving their creative skills and adding to their knowledge and resumes outside of class.

Teacher strategy A & student strategy B: (-2,-6)

  • Receives a utility of -2 for the teacher because they still have more variety in their teaching, but their students are not thinking critically or creatively and may not perform as well with active learning.
  • Receives a utility of -6 for the students because simply memorizing will not help them perform well with active learning and will not prepare them well for a future outside of school.

Teacher strategy A & student strategy C: (5,5)

  • Receives a utility of 5 for the teachers because the students are more engaged and are thinking critically and creatively and the teachers have more variety in their teaching.
  • Receives a utility of 5 for the students because they are more engaged in class, and are thinking extra critically and creatively in school–useful skills for future success. However, simply adding more hands on activities may not be a big enough change to meaningfully affect creativity levels in schools.

Teacher strategy B & student strategy A: (2,7)

  • Receives a utility of 2 for the teachers because it will help with student engagement and creativity. However, it will also be harder for teachers to grade students and find ways to get through required course material, and it will take a lot of adjustment on the teachers’ behalf.
  • Receives a utility of 7 for the students because they will get to think creatively about topics they are interested in, and they will be learning and thinking creatively outside of class, but they will also be quite busy.

Teacher strategy B & student strategy B: (-7,-7)

  • Receives a utility of -7 for the teachers because students will perform poorly on big creative projects if all they know how to do is memorize (which will not reflect well on teachers). Also, the whole point of the creative projects would be lost.
  • Receives a utility of -7 for the students because they will perform poorly and not reach their full creative potential.

Teacher strategy B & student strategy C: (4,9)

  • Receives a utility of 4 for the teachers because students will be engaged and will be thinking creatively and making good use of the projects. However, it will also be harder for teachers to grade students and find ways to get through required course material, and it will take a lot of adjustment on the teachers’ behalf.
  • Receives a utility of 9 for the students because they will be thinking creatively about topics they are interested in, and working on meaningful projects inside of school–giving them more time to engage in other activities outside of school.

Teacher strategy C & student strategy A: (5,6)

  • Receives a utility of 5 for the teachers because students are more engaged and are thinking creatively, and teachers do not have to adapt to as big of a change with grading.
  • Receives a utility of 6 for the students because they get to practice creativity in a low risk environment which makes them even more willing to think big. They are also engaging in creative projects outside of school, but this could consume a lot of time, and children should be able to have fun and savor these years with less responsibility.

Teacher strategy C & students strategy B: (-4,-4)

  • Receives a utility of -4 for the teachers because students will not perform well (but this won’t affect their grades too much) and the purpose of the projects will be lost.
  • Receives a utility og -4 for the students because they will not perform well (although this won’t be too bad because it won’t show in their grades as much) and the purpose of the projects will be lost as students fail to think creatively.

Teacher strategy C & student strategy C: (7,8)

  • Receives a utility of 7 for the teachers because students will be especially engaged and will be thinking creatively, and teachers do not have to adapt to as big of a change with grading. 
  • Receives a utility of 8 for the students because they will have the opportunity to be creative in a low stakes environment, and they will be putting their effort and energy into a project of interest to them.

Teacher strategy D & student strategy A: (2,7)

  • Receives a utility of 2 for the teachers because students will be less stressed and worn out with less homework (helping them to perform better). However, teachers would have to figure out how to fit more material into the class time they have, which could be difficult.
  • Receives a utility of 7 for the students because they will have more freetime to spend creating creative projects that will teach them useful skills, look good on resumes, and help them cultivate their interests. However, this outcome does not entail more creative projects in schools, which would help students be more engaged in school.

Teacher strategy D & student strategy B: (-1,-7)

  • Receives a utility of -1 for the teachers because students are not being properly prepared for success outside of school if they are just memorizing and teachers will have to figure out how to fit more coursework into class time with less homework. However, students would not necessarily perform worse in this curriculum that does not entail more creative projects.
  • Receives a utility of -7 for the students because they would not be having more creative projects in school, so they would not be further developing their creativity. Also, they would not be preparing themselves for a successful future by solely developing memorization skills. 

Teacher strategy D & student strategy C: (3,5)

  • Receives a utility of 3 for teachers because students would be engaged and thinking creatively in school assignments, but again, teachers would have to figure out how to fit more coursework into class time with less homework. Also, teachers themselves would not be cultivating more student creativity.
  • Receives a utility of 5 for students because they would be less worn out and more focused and engaged and creative in school. However, they would only be exercising creativity in a curriculum with not that much room for creativity.

 

 


Matrix Model

Below is a normal form model for the game with players, strategies, outcomes, and utilities described above.

Movement Diagram

Below I have found solutions to the game above with a movement diagram (which finds the Nash Equilibria).

Solutions found with Movement Diagram:
Teacher A & Student A with a value of (5,5)
Teacher C & Student C with a value of (7,8)

Pareto Optimal Solutions

Below I have found outcomes that are Pareto Optimal–meaning the outcomes for which there are no other outcomes with utilities that are higher for both players. Pareto optimal outcomes are considered the best societal solutions.

Pareto Optimal Solutions: anything on the line y = -x/3 + 31/3
Pure strategy solutions: 
teacher B & student C with a value of (4,9)
Teacher C & student C with a value of (7,8)
Mixed solutions:
teacher mix of B & C, student C


Sequential Model

This game could be considered sequential because sometimes teachers give out some type of syllabus, and students may decide to choose a strategy based on how the teacher says he/she will run the class. Thus, below I have modeled the game with a sequential model and found solutions via backward induction–which finds the safest solutions for each player in a sequential game.



Backward Induction Solution
Teacher C & Student C with a value of (7,8)

Some Conclusions

The outcome Teacher C & Student C with a value of (7,8), is the only outcome that is a solution in all three of the models above. Also, because students and teachers are not in opposition to one another, and rather must work together, the pareto optimal nature of the outcome Teacher C & Student C makes it an even more favorable outcome. 



Works Cited

Sandri, Orana Jade. “Exploring the Role and Value of Creativity in Education for Sustainability.” Environmental Education Research, vol. 19, no. 6, Dec. 2013, pp. 765–778. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/13504622.2012.749978.

 

Kim, Kyung. “The Creativity Crisis: The Decrease in Creative Thinking Scores on the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking.” Creativity Research Journal, vol. 23, no. 4, 2011, pp. 285-295.

 

Meikle, scott. “Embracing Our Creativity.” Independent School, vol. 73, no. 2, Winter 2014, pp. 64–69. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=92895712&site=ehost-live.

 

Rinkevich, Jennifer L. “Creative Teaching: Why It Matters and Where to Begin.” Clearing House, vol. 84, no. 5, Sept. 2011, pp. 219–223. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/00098655.2011.575416.

 

Robinson, Ken. “Changing the Paradigm of Education.” RSA ANIMATE, 2010, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U&t=605s



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