Friday, December 29, 2006

Creativity, motivation, and "defiant" behavior: Young adolescents' perceptions of a middle school experience

Wright (1998) conducted a research to examined the creativity and perceptions of nine adolescents (three females, six males). Students were identified by teachers as having low academic motivation and varying levels of "defiant" behavior (i.e., "low," "moderate," and "high" according to school norms for conduct). Three additional students identified as motivated, well-adjusted, and "artistically talented" were included as a comparison group. All attended the same middle school, were in the eighth grade, and were considered academically "average" students. The investigation focused on (1) the nature of creativity among participants, (2) their perceptions of school, (3) ways creativity and school experiences influenced their academic motivation and defiant behavior, and (4) contexts that they found engaging and those they did not. Data collection involved both qualitative and quantitative techniques including a document review, participant observation, the Torrance Tests for Creative Thinking (TTCT verbal and figural-Form A), interviews, focus groups, and a design workshop for participants. Findings reveal that most of the "average, low motivated" students demonstrated above average creative potential (TTCT verbal) and had a number of characteristics that define creative people (e.g., strong sense of self, high emotional intelligence, intense desire for quality). Participants also perceived their relationships with teachers as the most critical aspect of their school experience and reported high stress and frustration related to testing and grades. Participants' academic motivation and defiant behavior in school were influenced by one or more of the following categories: (1) the quality of learning experiences (e.g., curriculum, instructional practices, and relationships with teachers); (2) a combination of home/school stress; and (3) situations in which students perceived a lack of support for their uniqueness or creative expression-including the extent to which they could freely express their opinions. Participants desired (1) greater involvement in curriculum development and in the evaluation process; (2) less emphasis on skills and more authentic learning; ( 3) greater diversity in sports, the arts, and other subject areas; (4) more discussion and group work; (5) more time for reflection and completion of projects; and (6) increased opportunities for leisure during the school day (i.e., rest, recreation, and relaxation both alone and with friends).

Wright, Sheila (1998). Creativity, motivation, and "defiant" behavior: Young adolescents' perceptions of a middle school experience. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A : Humanities and Social Sciences. Vol 59 (3-A).

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