Examining the Effect of a School-based Creativity Program on Divergent Thinking and Academic Achievement in Middle School Students
Author ORCID Identifier
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Middle and Secondary Education
Dr. Martin Norgaard
Dr. Patrick Freer
Dr. Patrick Enderle
Dr. Anna Abraham
This study aimed to investigate the potential transfer effects of domain-specific creativity training on domain-general divergent thinking indices of divergent thinking and investigate the potential effects of the school-based creativity program on the development of creativity in a middle school in the southeast region of the United States. The school-based creativity program is an initiative that uses literacy standards to position students as content creators, connecting directly to student interests. The creativity program includes capstone projects, such as songwriting, theater, dance, video game development, inventions, marketing, and design. In the 2020–2021 school year, 55.17% of the program’s capstone projects were music-related (2019–2020: 63%). I assessed online 75 sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students. Of the seventh and eighth graders, one half of the students were partially in the school-based creativity program and the second half were not involved in the program. All sixth graders were enrolled in the program and considered one group, which I labeled as Full Creativity-Sixth Grade.
Four types of data were collected and analyzed for this study: the Runco Creativity Assessment Battery, Georgia Milestones Achievement Scores (GMAS), music-based capstone projects, and interviews with the administrator and program coordinator from the creativity program. Quantitative results revealed that grade level did affect divergent thinking, with lower grades scoring less. However, the participants in the Full Creativity program had virtually no transfer effects, which was expected based on the extensive training literature. These results may have been influenced by the way divergent thinking was measured and the testing schedule, in which testing fatigue may have influenced the posttest results. To measure academic achievement, participants were divided into two groups based on their GMAS test scores for English/Language Arts (ELA) and Math (Low Achieving and High Achieving). There were no significant interactions between divergent thinking pre-and posttest scores and GMAS test scores in ELA or Math. After completing a content analysis of the students’ music capstone projects, two overarching themes were present: musical creativity and emotional expression.
This dissertation describes the creativity program in detail and discusses how it relates to music education. Contributions, limitations, implications, and directions for future research address the effect of school-based creativity programs on divergent thinking and academic achievement.
Garber Rowe, Lauren E., "Examining the Effect of a School-based Creativity Program on Divergent Thinking and Academic Achievement in Middle School Students." Dissertation, Georgia State University, 2023.
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