[42] You Can’t Teach That! Creativity as a Learning Outcome.


You Can’t Teach That! Creativity as a Learning Outcome.


Ben Martin


A report by The World Economic Forum, The Future of Jobs, estimates that by 2020 creativity will have risen to become third most sought after skill by employers, beaten only by complex problem solving and critical thinking. This makes sense; as more traditional roles are filled by automation and AI, our ability to think creatively may well be our distinguishing feature in the new world of work.
Despite this, creative thinking receives insufficient attention within higher education. This does students a disservice: the ability to understand and develop their own creative process is not only important for their learning, but will be crucial to their ability to thrive in the modern workplace. In part, the underrepresentation of creativity as a skill in its own right is caused by a lack of confidence in lecturers and other staff to discuss their own ‘creative selves’. The multifarious definitions of the skill and a number of unhelpful myths around the idea of creativity contribute are perhaps two of the reasons for this. But as we consider how we might adapt our teaching and learning for the future, a more thorough understanding of creativity and how to nurture the skill in others is required.
This workshop will explore ways in which all of us involved with the student journey at Swansea can help students to become confident in their abilities as creative thinkers. Drawing upon learning from the last 2 years of running successful creative thinking workshops for students within the Centre for Academic Success, this session will break the skill of creativity into a distinct concepts and demonstrate these via practical activities. Using case studies from collaborations with lecturers within Swansea University, the workshop will briefly demonstrate how these concepts relate directly to much of the higher education journey. Participants will then be encouraged to consider how concepts from the workshop may apply to their own teaching practice.

Session Outline

The workshop will be split into three sections:


Short presentation outlining a working definition of creativity and barriers to teaching it. This will be followed by a brief discussion of the presenter’s experience designing and running a creative thinking course within Swansea University.


Participants will engage in five activities in small groups. Each activity introduces a different stage of the creative process, all chosen for their relevance to the HE journey. These are: Tolerating Ambiguity; Idea Abundance; Cross Pollination; Growth Mindset; Challenging Assumptions. At this stage activities are designed to present the concepts in isolation. For example, a problem solving activity based on De Bono’s random word generator serves to demonstrate Cross Pollination.


In the same groups participants will be given a short set of questions which ask them to reflect on their own experience of teaching in relation to the creative stages presented and suggest approaches that could fit each of them. They may like to suggest other stages of the creative process here also.
The presenter will share their own approaches to helping students draw the link between academic skills and the creative skills presented and elicit feedback from groups. All suggestions will be collected and distributed among participants following the session, hopefully stimulating further discussion and sharing

Key Messages

A more thorough understanding of the creative process and how to make this explicit to students within teaching.

Key Words


FOR STAFF USE ONLY : Projector & Screen. Tables that can be organised into small group format.

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