Metamorphosis Research Report – SPARK!
This study looks at the perceived impact of creativity when students are treated with short- and long-term exposure to the creative process through the steps of Inspiration, Collaboration, Iteration and Innovation. The population for this study included beginning to middle-aged school children from low-income homes in the city of Dallas within Texas. Students were given a pre and post instrument and measured in two groups: (short-term exposure) and (long-term exposure). SPARK! is a 501c.3 located in Dallas, Texas, and students visited the transformed facility where they were treated with intentional programming related to creativity. 2
Statement of the Research
SPARK! is a creative nonprofit in Dallas with the following mission: to ignite the spark of creativity inherent in all children. SPARK! ignites creativity by encouraging children to be risk-takers and ask questions in pursuit of their own creative spirit. The hands-on environment at SPARK! affords children the opportunity to engage in the creative process.
SPARK! has been open for over three years, and for the purpose of this research, collapsed three different survey tools to create a measurement instrument that allowed children to self identify their creative energies. This research study, defined internally as the Metamorphosis Research Project, was given to beginning and middle-aged school children. Students were placed into two distinctive groups: short (students receiving one week of continuous creative programming) and long (students receiving multiple engagements over a year-long time frame). Children were asked a series of question stems at the beginning and end of the exposure periods. Students responded using technology within the controlled environment of the SPARK! facility.
Examination of Questions
Within the multiple question format, five of the questions displayed desirable research objectives when examining the findings. Those specific questions found themes related to not only future research studies but also current methodologies. Within the study approximately 60% of the students on the question stems demonstrated perceived improvement of their self perception regarding creative contextual frameworks. During the period of analysis, the research study further identified students and schools that utilize intentional curriculum strands to support an open-minded approach to teaching and learning. One will find those student increases labeled “intentional critical thinking” groups. The five relatable questions are found below with a short analysis following each question stem. 3
Question Stem: I am good at coming up with my own ideas
The students in the short experimental group showed an increase of .06 in their perceived ability to come up with their own ideas, and the students in the long experimental group increased by .02. A further breakdown demonstrated students that attend schools that focus on intentional critical thinking over longer periods of time increased .04.
Question Stem: I have a good imagination
Students in the short experimental group found a .02 gain, with those in the long experimental group demonstrating a slight increase. Additionally, the children enrolled in intentional programmed schools represented a .03 gain in their perception on the topic of imagination.
Question Stem: I am creative
Short and long experimental groups remained neutral with intentional critical thinking programmed students performing a .04 gain in this question stem.
Question Stem: I like trying to do things I have not done before
This question clearly defines intentional critical thinking programmed schools’ support, with students in those schools demonstrating a .02 gain. Students trying new things demonstrate the notion of risk-taking behavior, which is encouraged within top-performing learning environments. Students in the short and long experimental group remained neutral on this question. 4
Question Stem: I enjoy thinking about many different things
Intentionally programmed critical thinking schools represent a .02 gain on the response tool. These students have received exposure within the framework of learning in a principled manner. Short and long experimental groups remained neutral.
Over half a century ago, Erickson (1950) recognized that for children, “school seems to be a culture all by itself with its own goals and limits, its achievements and disappointments” (p. 259). Before entering school, children inhabit a world in which they have free reign to their imagination. For this reason, preschool and early elementary school students often have a positive self-concept. In their eyes, “They are wonderful and can do anything” (Moellar, 1994, p. 35). As children enter formal schooling, they are asked to comply with a world governed by rules and structures. Their task at this stage is to meet the academic and social demands of the formal school setting. To Erickson (1950), the children, included in the present study, would be at a “socially most decisive stage” (p.260).
SPARK! is to be commended for their approach to teaching creativity within the steps of Inspiration, Collaboration, Iteration and Innovation. Their mission — to ignite creativity inherent in all children — represents a dedication of development for the whole child. Students responding positively to their self-perception within the question stems of imagination, creativity and working memory represent ingenious information development. Students identifying themselves as (creative) innovative, inventive and inspired will eventually have long-term advancement in post secondary attainment. 5
Short Experimental Group
This group represented growth when looking at imagination. Given that they were in a rapid repetitive programming sequence, one could support the notion of importance on self-concept and perception. The notion of, “If you believe it, you can do it”, was visible within this group.
Long Experimental Group
The long experimental group demonstrated a consistent and steady improvement in their perception of the creative process. This group often entered pre-assessment performing at a rating higher than their peers. Specifically, when SPARK! examined the relationship of perception related to one’s school programming, students who come from educational institutions with the focus on daily inquiry do indeed outperform their peers in the area of creative perception.
There is no question that intentional creative programming has a direct impact on academic performance within the continuity of learning. It is also true that for school aged children, self-perception and academic performance are often intertwined. Moeller (1994) felt that by second grade most children begin to develop stable self-concept, which directly aligns with their perception of their talents. For that reason, SPARK! has aligned itself to school-aged field trips beginning in Grade 2 and they have a weekend family focus on programming related to creative development. They work to accomplish this by integration of multiple opportunities within the facility tied to the combination of an inquiry-based curriculum designed around the imaginative process. 6
Conclusions and Recommendations
The purpose of the Metamorphosis Study conducted within the SPARK! facility was to begin to quantify the need for students to be exposed to creative programming during their educational years. The study was two-fold. One of its goals was designed to focus on exposure to the creative process of two groups of students during their educational years: short term and long term. The other objective of the study was to examine a child’s perception of his or her creativity.
This study highlights the often-neglected impact that creativity can have on a child. Research shows that students who identify themselves as creative have endless possibilities. Amongst the entire question stems, there were differences between students who received programming at SPARK! and their perception of creative energies as compared to their peers. Any small differences between the short and long experimental groups were of no practical significance. The slight increases within critical thinking schools represent the need for teachers to be exposed to training methodologies that include the SPARK! creative process of: Inspiration, Collaboration, Iteration and Innovation. In addition, students do indeed benefit from repeated exposure within the SPARK! programming facility. The mission of the organization — to ignite creativity inherent in all children — represents the desire to improve a child’s self-efficacy. The ability of students to experience repeated exposure does indeed engage the imaginative process. 7
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Magdalena Grohman Ph.D. – University of Texas Dallas
Alan Elliott & Ben Williams, Southern Methodist University
Summary of Findings
Andra Barton, Ed.D. – SPARK!
Beverly Davis, President & CEO – SPARK!