Rekindling Creativity in the Key Stage Three Classroom: Theory and Personalised Playful Practice

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Creativity has emerged as a key attribute for 21st century employability but developing creativity in UK secondary education remains a major challenge. This doctoral research addressed this problem using a three-phase approach: translating and validating a tool for creativity measurement; developing and evaluating teaching methodologies for enhancing creativity; and finally refining and enhancing a lesson planning and delivery system for larger-scale classroom implementation to enhance creativity through delivery of core-curriculum content.

In Study 1, the theoretically robust Italian Widening, Connecting, Reorganising (WCR) test was validated in English (WCR-E). A strong correlation between the WCR-E and the Test of Alternative Uses (TAU) supported the reliability of the new WCR-E. Administration time was less than 15 minutes, providing a fast and reliable measurement instrument.

In Study 2, two lesson-planning methodologies drawn from different pedagogical models were developed. Each was tested in a key stage three (11-12) classroom, paired with a control group matched by age and subject specialism, with data comprising school-generated pre and post attainment, WCR-E creativity measures and post intervention teacher interviews. Initial results indicated a large positive effect size gain in creativity for the play-based Pedagogy of Play (PoP) approach, while the heuristic based student focused (SF) approach, despite demonstrating a very large decline in creativity, doubled the expected academic attainment.

In Study 3, a hybrid approach, Personalised Playful Planning (PPP) centred around pupil agency, was developed on the basis of both approaches and additional measures of academic self-efficacy included. 138 pupils (11-13) from three subject areas took part in this matched control study. A large positive effect size indicated that PPP enhanced creativity as well as raising attainment above predicted outcomes. Results indicated the new PPP methodology can effectively develop creativity and support attainment with minimal adjustments to teacher delivery and workload.

The original contributions to knowledge are threefold: the validated WCR-E, a short and easy to administer English language creativity measurement tool; establishing a link between adolescent agency and creativity development; and most importantly, a practical and systematic planning approach for secondary teachers that develops pupil creativity and subject attainment.
Date of Award4 May 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Edge Hill University
SupervisorRODERICK NICOLSON (Director of Studies) & KAREN LUDKE (Supervisor)


  • play
  • creativity
  • agency
  • creativity measure
  • adolescence
  • lesson-planning

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