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Creative Conversations: conceptions of creativity in learning and
teaching in higher education

Paul Kleiman

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Creativity surrounds us on all sides: from composers to chemists, cartoonists to
choreographers. But creativity is a puzzle, a paradox, some say a mystery.

(Boden 1991)

Creativity has now entered the discourse in higher education, as part of a wider policy agenda that situates creativity alongside other agenda items such as enterprise, entrepreneurship and innovation. There is an expectation that higher education will engage with creativity in the design, delivery and assessment of its curricula. But creativity is an elusive, slippery and complex notion, with many aspects and facets, and it evades the sort of definition, categorisation and compartmentalisation required to incorporate it into the curriculum frameworks and assessment regimes that are currently in place in higher education.
     This paper discusses the findings from two linked research projects that each set out to explore the variation in the way academics, from range of arts, humanities and science disciplines, conceptualise and experience creativity in relation to their pedagogic practice. The first project was an analysis of detailed responses to an online questionnaire about the conceptions and
experiences of creativity in learning and teaching in higher education. The second project was a phenomenographic study of academic conceptions of creativity in learning and teaching in higher education, based on in-depth, semi-structured interviews with a selection of respondents to the
online survey. These ‘conversations about creativity’ revealed the fascination with and complexities of exploring creativity within the context of learning and teaching.

Author Bio(s)

Paul Kleiman is Associate Director of PALATINE, the Higher Education Academy Subject Centre for Dance, Drama and Music, based at Lancaster University. Paul trained as a theatre designer, and worked in the performing and visual arts for twenty years as an artist, designer, director, musician, performer and writer. In 1995 he joined the small team that set up the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) and its unique interdisciplinary degree programme. At LIPA he led the Performance Design course and he was also responsible for designing and implementing the institution’s assessment strategy. He joined PALATINE in 2001, and his work and research at the Subject Centre has focused mainly on the assessment of creativity and creative curriculum design. Recently, in November 2006, he was invited to the USA to join a small group of scholars, policy makers and practitioners discussing the development of The Creative Campus as a follow up to a major report by the American