Studies in Learning, Evaluation, Innovation and Development > Vol. 4, No. 1 (2007)

Unlocking creativity in tertiary students

Mary McLeod, CQU
Roslyn McCarthy, CQU
Bradley McConachie


This study investigated how changes in the explanatory style of university students can lead to conditions that can enhance creative thinking. Seligman’s theory of explanatory style optimism has been associated with increased feelings of well-being, academic success, popularity, and creative problem-solving. In contrast his theory of pessimism has been associated with depression, low achievements, poor social skills, and lack of creativity. Other theorists have linked blocks for creativity to attitudes of failure avoidance, past experiences of failure, repeated stress, extrinsic motivation, lack of enjoyment, and reactive attitudes. Qualitative analyses using Nvivo 7 was made of the comments of 50 students who completed the nine week programme “Get optimistic about study”. The programme was presented using innovative and creative methodology. Data taken at pre-programme and post-programme intervals showed themes that suggest enhanced creativity in post-programme comments. Further quantitative analysis of the data is recommended to investigate how changes in creativity may have influenced the academic results of participants.

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