Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Creativity (Linguistics) -- Study and teaching (Middle school) -- Iowa -- Waterloo; Creative ability in children -- Iowa -- Waterloo; Child psychology; Competence and performance (Linguistics); Psycholinguistics;


Pressing global problems require solutions from innovative ideas that depend upon educating a new generation to think creatively. The current study aimed at assisting 24 sixth grade students in a summer program develop their creativity skills in two different areas while integrating academic content. Student performance was examined for transfer of skills across domains and for support of Construal Level Theory, which holds that addressing topics distant in space, time, probability or experience leads to abstract thought supporting greater creativity.

The study was a counterbalanced, repeated measures, two-experimental condition study with students divided into two groups of 12 each. In one experimental condition, students learned about creative word play (e.g., hink-pinks, alliteration, homophones) and wrote short compositions, while in the other condition, they learned about creative spatial constructions (given a set of 12 recycled or craft items, students used glue to create a three-dimensional scene that represented specified academic concepts). Each group completed identical pretest-posttests addressing both conditions. Both groups discussed a given sheet of content information (changing daily, alternating between proximal and distal topics) to incorporate into work and daily instruction on creativity skills. Written and constructed products were scored for creativity skills including fluency, originality, and elaboration, among others.

Both groups scored similarly on the pretest. The group participating in construction lessons the first two weeks performed better in the ensuing daily wordplay lessons than the group who had first engaged in wordplay, indicating possible transfer of creativity across domains. However, such transfer was not seen to occur from the group first learning wordplay and continuing into construction. This implies that the hands-on, spatial activity of construction may positively enhance the creative mindset of students.

Little evidence was found in scoring of the wordplay and construction products to support Construal Level Theory. Instead, many creative traits, along with student attitudes, were enhanced under the proximal condition, often with large effect sizes. Perhaps the fact-and-drill-oriented school experiences of participants affected their creative performance on unfamiliar (distal) topics. Conversely, the observed effects may have been due to integration of proximal or distal content rather than priming as in other studies.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Audrey C. Rule


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Date Original


Object Description

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