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Copyright ? 2006-2013 Scientific Research Publishing Inc. All rights reserved.
2012. Vol.3, No.1, 24-29
Published Online February 2012 in SciRes (http://www.SciRP.org/journal/ce) http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/ce.2012.31004
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Attitudes of American Teachers Preparing to Become
Administrators toward Teaching Creative Strategies
Climetine Clayburn, Stu Ervay, Nancy Albrecht
Department of Scho ol Leadership/Middle and Secondary Teacher Education,
Emporia State University, Emporia, USA
Received October 30th, 2011; revised November 24th, 2011; accepted December 10th, 2011
This article presents findings of a study to determine attitudes of American teachers enrolled in graduate
human relations and supervision and teacher evaluation courses taken as part of a program preparing them
to become school administrators. They were given instruction on the New Bloom’s Taxonomy and asked
to consider the Bill of Rights for the Planet as a possible catalyst for the teaching of creativity; they were
then asked to provide their re-actions to these guiding research questions: 1) To what extent are currently
mandated or suggested curriculums allowing the teaching of creativity in their respective grade levels or
subjects? 2) How would they assist teachers under their supervision, once becoming administrators, to
structure local curriculums and lessons to include the teaching of creative solutions to issues? Sub-re-
search questions included: 1) How would you define creativity in teaching? 2) What do you consider to be
barriers to creativity? 3) As a future school administrator, what do you anticipate you will do to enhance
creativity in your building? Based on their responses to the previous mentioned prompts, it was concluded
that teachers are not using creativity to a high level in their currently mandated or suggested curriculums.
There was strong indication that these future administrators felt that it was part of their responsibility to
make s u r e the i r tea che r s use d c r e a t i v i ty i n the clas s room. T o h ave c r e a t i v i ty t h e r e needs t o b e a foundation to
build upon and the willingness of teachers to accept more than one answer for a problem.
Keywords: Creative Teaching Strategies; Administrator Training
There is growing concern that America, the best educated
nation in the world a generation ago, may be lagging behind
nine other countries in college completion. As President Barack
Obama stated in the publication, A Blueprint for Reform, “It is
not that their students are smarter than ours. It is that these
countries are being smarter about how to educate their stu-
dents” (United States Department of Education, 2010). The
Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Act by the
United States Congress is still pending. However, the United
States Department of Education recently and boldly promoted
world-class education as a prerequisite for success. That posi-
tion statement asserts that every student must graduate from
high school and be well prepared for college and a career. It is
hoped that any congressional reauthorization of NCLB (No
Child Left Behind), or creation of a new process, will contain
The original NCLB was designed to increase teacher ac-
countability and improve student learning, and caused stan-
dardized testing to assume a prominent role in educational re-
form efforts. It seems what has become most important is pass-
ing state standardized tests. Meeting narrowly defined educa-
tional goals is causing teachers to view student curiosity as
frivolous and even a supplemental task. “An overwhelming
complaint among teachers is that inflexible, prescribed curricu-
lums do not allow instructional time to peak student curiosity
and creativity, nor do they allow teachers to seek student input
regarding what they learn,” (Engel & Randall, 2009: p. 183).
Clearly, inclusion of creativity in the curriculum is no longer
considered a high priority.
Most recently, a growing concern regarding standardized
testing and increased accountability was made public when
USA Today related that, “Ten states now use test scores as the
main criterion in teacher evaluations. Other states reward high-
scoring teachers with up to $25,000 bonuses—while low scores
could result in principals losing their jobs or entire schools
closing.” This was revealed in the unfolding of America’s big-
gest teacher and principal cheating scandal in Atlanta where it
was reported, “At least 178 teachers and principals in Atlanta
Public Schools cheated to raise student scores on high-stakes
standardized tests, according to a report to a report from the
Georgia Bureau of Investigation.” Furthermore, USA Today
stressed, “This appears to be the largest of dozens of major
cheating scandals, unearthed across the country. The allegations
point to ongoing problems for US education, which has devel-
oped an ever-increasing dependence on standardized tests”
(USA Today, 2011). Similar concerns have been expressed by
researchers in even more recent years, “State assessments can
steer even the most skilled teachers down the wrong path as
they deliver instruction,” (Longo, 2010: p. 54)
Given the recent national emphasis on standards and the use
of high stakes tests, American teachers preparing to become
school administrators may not have positive attitudes toward
teaching creative strategies. They most likely will conclude that,
as administrators, they will be held accountable primarily for
how well students perform on summative tests that are based
either on state standards or the new national Core Standards
being adopted by most states. With so much emphasis on stan-
C. CLAYBURN ET AL.
dards, they may not be acquainted with the New Bloom’s Tax-
onomy that places creating at the top of the learning hierarchy,
nor are they likely to be aware of why that action was taken.
Another problem may be they don’t really understand how to
teach creativity as it is unformulated and difficult to define. The
teaching of creativity has to be put into a more tangible context
that can be easily interpreted and practiced, and relative to stu-
dents’ lives to become an important element of teaching for
critical thinking. One framework credited with promoting the
concept of creativity in real world meaning is through a resur-
gence of constructivism. The principles of constructivist teach-
ing and learning include integration of content and collabora-
tive practices for creating new knowledge.
As a precursor to the conduct of this research, study subjects
were provided information on the New Bloom’s Taxonomy.
Giving subjects participating in the study baseline information
about the new perspectives was critical to later receiving in-
sightful responses to these two guiding prompts: 1) To what
extent are currently mandated or suggested curriculums allow-
ing the teaching of creativity in their respective grade levels or
subjects? and 2) How would they assist teachers under their
supervision, once becoming administrators, to structure local
curriculums and lessons to include the teaching of creative
solutions to issues?
Those participating in the study were currently enrolled, or
had been enrolled within the past two years in a required
graduate human relations or supervision and teacher evaluation
course conducted online by Emporia State University as well as
students who have taken the course in the past two years, and
included forty-seven (47) teachers, counselors, and instructional
coaches currently working in Kansas, Missouri, Mississippi,
Ohio, Oklahoma, and Texas. The vast majority were working in
Kansas. The study was conducted in the fall semester of 2010
and spring semester of 2011.
Description of the New Bloom’s Taxonomy
Benjamin Bloom’s original Taxonomy of Cognitive Domain
was published in 1956. Commonly referred to as “Bloom’s
Taxonomy,” it has been translated into 22 languages, and is one
of the most widely used references in education. In the 1990’s,
one of Bloom’s former students, Lorin Anderson, headed up a
new group of educational theorists and researchers to review
and update the original taxonomy. After six years of work, the
revision was published in 2001. Since then, many educators
have traded in their “old” version of Bloom for the newer ver-
sion. However, they certainly do not represent a majority of the
teaching profession. There are still countless educators who are
not aware that an update exists, and a like number who know
about the new version, but aren’t sure what to do with it.
First, what exactly has changed? There are three overall dif-
ferences: terminology, structure, and emphasis. The one gath-
ering attention from most educators is terminology, and that is
the one we focus on here. (A web search about the revised tax-
onomy will provide many sites if you want to know more about
the structure and emphasis.) Within the terminology changes
there are also three differences: 1) some of the categories of the
taxonomy were renamed; 2) all of the category names were
changed from nouns to verbs; and 3) synthesis and evaluation
(now evaluating and creating) changed places on the pyramid.
Figure 1 provides a graphic representation of those changes.
Definitions of the new terms are similar to those most widely
used with the older version, with a few differences:
Remembering: Retrieving, recognizing, and recalling rele-
vant knowledge from long-term memory.
Understanding: Constructing meaning from oral, written,
and graphic messages through interpreting, exemplifying, clas-
sifying, summarizing, inferring, comparing, and explaining.
Applying: Carrying out or using a procedure through exe-
cuting, or implementing.
Analyzing: Breaking material into constituent parts, deter-
mining how the parts relate to one another and to an overall
structure or purpose through differentiating, organizing, and at-
Evaluating: Making judgments based on criteria and stan-
dards through checking and critiquing.
Creating: Putting elements together to form a coherent or
functional whole; reorganizing elements into a new pattern or
structure through generating, planning, or producing, (Ander-
son, Krathwohl et al., 2001).
This new version should be used in the same way as the pre-
vious taxonomy—to guide the development of curriculum, in-
form instructional practices, and direct the wording of assess-
ments. These “uses” are what are most important to help assure
that teaching and learning go beyond rote memory and the
“lower” levels of thinking, to include higher levels. Two other
things to keep in mind: 1) all ages of student can achieve high
levels of thinking; and 2) a single activity or assignment can
include multiple kinds of thinking skills. Table 1 provides an
example that covers all six of Bloom’s categories using the old
and new version (Roach, 2008).
Rationale for a Constructivism Resurgence to
Stimulate the Teaching of Creativity
Teaching that promotes learning shares these identifiable charac-
teristics: 1) emphasizes thinking and problem-based learning; 2)
permits student choice and initiative, and 3) encourages depth
over breadth. It is well documented that high-level learning
requires high-level instruction. Researchers are calling for a
constructivism resurgence to refocus instruction for creativity.
This approach stems from the writings of Dewey, Vygotsky,
Piaget, and valued foundations in cognitive psychology. “While
it was not collectively accepted in the 20th century, it is now
recognized by cognitive psychologists as offering the most
powerful scaffolding to understand how children and adults
learn,” (Danielson, 2007). In Table 2 an example of a construc-
tivist teaching using the New Bloom’s Taxonomy is provided.
Constructivism seem to be a promising approach to creativity
in the classroom because it calls for both social (or collabora-
tive) learning and integrated instruction that causes students to
New Version Old Version
Representation of new and old b lo om’s taxonomy .
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 25
C. CLAYBURN ET AL.
engage in problem solving and to create their own understand-
ing of knowledge. “A key element in collaborative learning is
its epistemological perspective that knowledge is socially con-
structed, created by communities rather than individuals. know-
ledge is not poured into students but rather emerges from on-
going dialogue and social interaction among groups,” (Austin
& Baldwin, 1991, pp. 14-15). The emergence of creating new
knowledge through dialogue with peers was explained in the
Fifth Discipline (1990) by Peter Senge. He calls for “a shift of
mind—from seeing our selves as separate from the world to con-
nected to the world, from seeing problems as caused by some-
one or something ‘out there’ to seeing how our own actions
create the problems we experience. A learning organization is a
place where people are continually discovering how they create
their reality. And how they can change it” (pp. 12-13).
An example of a learning organization within schools is a
“professional learning community” (PLC). It is what happens
when faculty study, plan, and work together to collectively
increase student learning through creativity. PLCs can produce
positive outcomes for teachers and students. Such outcomes
include: creating shared responsibility for the total development
of students, enhancing curriculum and greater understanding of
teacher responsibilities, creating powerful learning that defines
high-level teaching, reducing teacher isolation, increasing
Example using new and old versions of bloom’s taxonomy.
Jack and the Beanstalk
Old Term New Term Action
Knowledge Remember i ng Where did Jack get the beans?
Comprehension Understa nding Illustrate the story.
Application Applying List at least two crimes Jack may have
Find one or more differences between
Jack’s earlie r and later behavi or.
Do you think Jack’s actions were
justified? Why or why not?
Create a mock trial in which Jack is
accused of criminal actions.
Constructivist teaching using new bloom’s taxonomy.
A Civil War Unit in Secondary Education
Remembering Make a timeline of major battles and indicate which
side won each battle?
Understanding Write a letter h ome as if you were a soldie r fighting in
a major battle and include description about the
weather that day, the terrain, what you ate, sleeping
conditions and your clothing, the welfare of your
buddies, events of the battle.
Applying Discuss the subsequent e vents of the bat t l e you
described and how they affec t t he overall landscape
of the war.
Analyzing What were the differences in the people, land,
economy, and morale o f the country i n North and th e
South at the onset and t he end of the war?
Evaluating Break into two grou ps with one be ing affirma tive and
one being negative, debate whether The Civil War
was necess ary or not ?
Creating Create a modern civil war. Determine the cause for
the war a nd h ow this war will impact o t her counties
of the world. What consequences and benefits would
commitment to the mission, vision, and goals of the school, and
securing a program for ongoing learning. Teachers who par-
ticipate in such learning communities are more apt to create
them in their classrooms. By nature, they lend themselves to
The other, integrated instruction helps students develop criti-
cal thinking skills that they will use to improve the world in
which they live. It encourages students to become curious in
their learning as they seek creative solutions to multifaceted
issues by making unconventional connections between and
among disciplines. “As students see how the content of one
course relates to that of others, they begin to make connections,
and in doing so gain not only a more integrated view of the
knowledge, but also a more authentic view of life” (Boyer,
1987, p. 92). It is through acts of creativity that we develop
important human capacities that benefit self and society.
Description of the Bill of Rights for the Planet
The Bill of Right s for the Planet was created by architects who
are obviously interested in the whole field of design, which
marries the practical aspects of life to artistic interpretations.
What makes the list so interesting in the realm of teaching and
learning is that it calls for an improved kind of human interac-
tion with the environment, making it an inherent part of every
subject in school. It doesn’t take much imagination to see how
science, mathematics, language arts and social studies are rep-
resented. The same is true of all fine and practical arts subjects,
as well as physical education and wellness. A review of the
nine principles can cause one to see the relationship quickly:
1) Insist on the right of humanity and nature to co-exist in a
healthy, supportive, diverse, and sustainable condition.
2) Recognize Interdependence. The elements of human de-
sign interact with and depend on the natural world, with broad
and diverse implications at every scale. Expand design consid-
erations to recognizing even distant effects.
3) Respect relationships between spirit and matter. Consider
all aspects of human settlement including community, dwelling,
industry, and trade in terms of existing and evolving connec-
tions between spiritual and material consciousness.
4) Accept responsibility for the consequences of design deci-
sions upon human well-being, the viability of natural systems,
and their right to co-exist.
5) Create safe objects of long-term value. Do not burden fu-
ture generations with requirements for maintenance or vigilant
administration of potential danger due to the careless creations
of products, processes, or standards.
6) Eliminate the concept of waste. Evaluate and optimize the
full life-cycle of products and processes, to approach the state
of natural systems in which there is no waste.
7) Rely on natural energy flows. Human designs should, like
the living world, derive their creative forces from perpetual
solar income. Incorporate this energy efficiently and safely for
8) Understand the limitations of design. No human creation
lasts forever and design does not solve all problems. Those who
create and plan should practice humility in the face of nature.
Treat nature as a model and mentor, not an inconvenience to be
evaded or controlled.
9) Seek constant improvement by the sharing of knowledge.
Encourage direct and open communication between colleagues,
patrons, manufacturers and users to link long term sustainable
considerations with ethical responsibility, and re-establish the
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
C. CLAYBURN ET AL.
integral relationship between natural processes and human ac-
Rationale for Using the Bill of Rights
for the Planets
The rationale for using the Bill of Rights for the Planet as a
study prompt was to provide subjects with a specific cognitive
set of which they could imagine student learning outcomes,
lessons and classroom activities. For example, the second point
in the Bill of Rights mentions broad and diverse implications
with regard to human interactions with the natural world.
Clearly, a statement like that rejects the notion that there is only
one way for human beings to structure cities or neighborhoods,
so an interesting scenario can be established that—given the
needs of particular human communities—cities might be or-
ganized differently to meet those needs. Curricular scenarios
like that call for interdisciplinary (integrated) programs of study
in which statistics, pollution control systems, media organiza-
tions, and anthropological perspectives are mixed with human
wellness considerations and aesthetics.
Strategy for Eliciting Responses from Teachers
Preparing to Become School Administrators
Subjects in the study, after receiving an opportunity to con-
sider and study the ramifications of the Ne w Bloom’s Taxonomy
(as seen in the Bill of Rights for the Planet prompt), were asked
to extrapolate ideas found in those processes and generate
viewpoints through responses to the following questions:
1) To what extent are currently mandated or suggested cur-
riculums allowing the teaching of creativity in their respective
grade levels or subjects?
2) How would they assist teachers under their supervision,
once becoming administrators, to structure local curriculums
and lessons to include the teaching of creative solutions to is-
4) How would you define creativity in teaching?
5) What do you consider to be barriers to creativity?
6) As a future school administrator, what do you anticipate
you will do to enhance creativity in your building?
Results from the Survey of Teachers
The survey first focused on the new Bloom’s Taxonomy
published in 2001; while the second part sought to understand
the meaning of creativity and how it can be implemented into
teaching and learning.
The majority of survey participants were classroom teachers
with an even distribution between elementary and secondary
(middle and high school); counselors and instructional coaches
were also part of this study. One participant had been laid off
due to budget cuts. Fifty-one percent were working in what
they described as a suburban environment, followed by 28%
percent were working in an urban area. The largest number of
participants worked in districts with an enrollment of 1201 or
more students, and the majority live in Kansas.
The researchers had no preconceived ideas but did realize
that when most educators are asked about the use of Bloom’s
Taxonomy they will report using the elements at the bottom
(Remembering, Understanding, and Applying) more often than
those listed at the top of the pyramid. That was also the case in
this study. Remembering, Understanding, and Applying were
used most frequently in subjects identified as currently critical
to meeting adequate yearly progress (AYP) for the individual’s
It was reported that if there wasn’t the pressure to meet AYP,
then an emphasis on Creating would be used more frequently.
One participant stated that “the most frequently used element is
to make sure that students remember the subject matter.” An-
other stated that “rote memory is important for basic informa-
tion when it comes to testing.” Other student comments associ-
ated with the three bottom levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy were
“Remembering is highly important for assessments.”
“Remembering must be used to prepare for NCLB tests.”
“It lets me know if the students are ‘getting’ the informa-
“It is the basic level that is foundation for other learning.”
“An ability to review data and distinguish the important
information is essential.”
“Understanding certain concepts is also important for test-
“If students can apply the information, they have mastered
“The application is really what makes this all worthwhile.
Why learn something in school if you are never going to
apply it anywhere?”
“Applying is highly important for assessments.”
“Applying is also necessary for the NCLB [No Child Left
Those who reported giving attention to Evaluating and Cre-
ating very frequently were only fourteen percent of the total
respondents. Those students indicated that using strategies
found at the top of the pyramid would actually help students be
better prepared to take state assessments.
Eighty-six percent of those reporting felt that Creating should
be at the top of Bloom’s Taxonomy as it relates to student
learning. However, 55% of those reporting said they had a
problem when teaching using this learning objective. Sev-
enty-three percent indicated that the Creating element actually
includes all the other categories in Bloom’s Taxonomy. When
asked if as a future administrator they had a responsibility to
work with the teachers in the building or district to enhance the
teaching and learning of creativity, 86% responded with a yes,
while 14% said “maybe” and no one reported with an answer of
Regarding how future administrators would define creative in
teaching, many comments were favorable and indicated that it
encourages higher-level thinking. Examples of these responses
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 27
C. CLAYBURN ET AL.
“I believe that creativity is being able to express your ideas
freely without feeling intimidated by what others may think.
We all have different gifts and talents and should be able to
problem solve and think creatively considering multiple
ideas on how to solve a problem. The freedom to be crea-
tive also allows a person to retain their individualism while
hearing others’ ideas at the same time. Many times our own
creativity is enhanced when we hear and share out and ex-
change our ideas with others.”
“Creativity is finding a unique way to do something or to
solve a problem. As a teacher, creativity is one key in keep-
ing students engaged in the classroom. As a building ad-
ministrator, it is a key to keeping staff engaged in the
“Creativity is being yourself and coming up with solutions
to problems by doing your own thinking. I think it also in-
cludes being bold enough to use the solution you came up
However, one participant wrote that “[you] can teach and in-
sist on many different things; however you cannot teach crea-
tivity [because] it is something that comes from within.” An-
other student wrote that: “[it’s] a very foreign way of thinking
for today’s classroom teacher.”
Responses of study participants who thought a curriculum
that emphasizes creative teaching and learning must incorporate
interdisciplinary (integrated) configurations (connecting cur-
rently separate subjects) was 66%—“yes” and 27%—“may be”.
One participant wrote, “I think many subjects can be integrated
without much work at all. I think that those [who] think it takes
a lot of work to integrate thing[s], don’t see the big picture. If
you are reading a science text, one is already incorporating
reading and comprehension of the material. If there are any
charts or graphs then you [use] math skills. If there is a map of
the universe you already have social studies…” Others wrote
that “few things can be taught in isolation; each subject… re-
lates to another; to prepare students for the future… we have to
link subjects together in some fashion;” and “interdisciplinary
units… allow for students to use new-found information and
ideas in different ways.” Eighty-nine percent indicated either
“yes” or “maybe” that they could see using the Bill of Rights
for the Planet as a catalyst to enhance the teaching of creativity.
One respondent wrote, “It covers all of the areas of Bloom’s
levels. The words used are some of the very words used in the
six levels, new and old.” Another wrote that there was an ap-
preciation for “the idea of allowing or accepting humanity and
nature to co-exist.”
Seventy-three percent of those participating in this survey
felt that the current American school system would need to be
changed if the focus of instruction employed more than a mod-
erate degree of teaching and learning for creativity. Someone
wrote that “[the] American system does not necessarily [have]
to change, but the way teaching is done might have to change.”
Some needs that were mentioned to teach creatively included
less emphasis on assessments, less government control, and not
being considered just another add on. All of those completing
the survey indicated with a Yes (55%) or Maybe (45%) re-
sponse that this is a good direction for the nation to take.
Eighty-six percent did think that, as future administrators, one
of their responsibilities included the need to work with the
teachers in the building and/or district to enhance the teaching
and learning of creativity.
We know that students who are actively engaged in learning
for deeper understanding are more likely to learn more than
students not so engaged. The information collected suggests
that current mandated or suggested curriculums are not using
the teaching of creativity in their respective grade levels or
subjects. Reasons given were lack of time, focus on state as-
sessments, and not actually knowing how creativity would look
in their subject area.
The future administrators included in this study, who often
have difficulty teaching creative concepts, felt that it was part
of their responsibility to ensure their teachers used creativity in
the classroom. For creativity to be part of an instructional pro-
gram there needs to be a foundation to build upon, and the
willingness of teachers to accept more than one answer/solution
for a problem.
1) For creating to be part of the American educational sys-
tem teachers and administrators must be knowledgeable of how
to use this area in the different content areas.
2) A resurgence of constructivism will need to be initiated
into the school’s mission, vision, and goals by administrators
and teachers to encourage creative instruction and learning in
3) Administrators will need to provide resources and sup-
ports for the forming of professional learning communities
(PLCs) to increase teacher professional development and crea-
tive teaching and student learning.
4) Teachers will need to understand and be held accountable
for the integration of instruction.
5) For these items to work, changes must be made in the
preparation of teachers and administrators, with a collateral
paradigm shift in the schools that employ them. For that para-
digm shift to take place, the current emphasis on rigid testing
procedures that focus on the lower levels of Bloom’s Taxon-
omy must be greatly modified.
We extend our appreciation to the former and present stu-
dents enrolled in educational leadership classes, as well as col-
leagues who assisted with collection of information from pre-
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