Evaluation of the nature and impact of the Creative Partnerships programme on the teaching workforce

Lamont, E., Jeffes, J., & Lord,P. (2010). Evaluation of the nature and impact of the Creative Partnerships programme on the teaching workforce. Slough: National Foundation for Educational Research.

Abstract:

This study examines the impact of the UK’s Creative Partnerships program on the teaching force at participating schools. The goal of Creative Partnerships is to develop the creativity of young people; strengthen teacher skills and ability to partner with “creative practitioners” (including artists, designers, architects, and scientists); and positively impact school culture and the capacity and sustainability of creative industries. The study found that the Creative Partnerships program had impacts on teachers’ personally, by enhancing their confidence and creative development; and professionally, by enhancing leadership skills and skills to assist in the development of children’s creativity.

Key Findings:

  • The most common impact reported by teachers as an outcome of their participation in Creative Partnerships related to their personal development, including enhanced enthusiasm, increased confidence, and development in the arena of personal learning.
  • Teachers reported career-related impacts, including changes in role, changed or enhanced career, and changes in teaching related to pedagogical values.
  • Teachers who rated their involvement with Creative Partnerships as “considerable” reported higher levels of impact related to career, including skills for leading projects and people, than teachers who rated themselves as participating less.
  • Other outcomes of the Creative Partnerships programs for teachers included a feeling of more engagement in the development of school curriculum and thus more agency in their own teaching practice, and more communication and sharing of best practices with their colleagues.

Significance of the Findings:

This study provides strong evidence that supports the use of creative teaching and learning, as well as the implementation of collaborative partnerships within the educational process as a means to positively impact teachers’ lives both personally and professionally. The findings suggest that through partnerships with “creative practitioners,” which included visual and performing artists as well as other creative practitioners such as designers, engineers, and scientists, teachers are able to increase their own efficacy and feelings of empowerment. The study suggests further that teachers’ gains in confidence, creative risk-taking, and leadership skill help improve their instructional practice and thus also benefit students.

Methodology:

The researchers conducted this mixed-methods study in four phases, beginning with a scoping exercise, the purpose of which was to identify what potential impacts of the program might be, as well as to identify potential participants for the three subsequent phases of the study. A second phase involved a series of fifteen case studies with teachers selected on the basis of email consultations during the scoping phase. The case studies were used to corroborate the initial claims of impact identified in phase 1; the researchers examined interview data in tandem with lesson plans work products, and program reviews in order to further support claims of impact. In phase three, the researchers held two “validation workshops” with participating teacher representatives, which allowed them to refine the typology of impacts that was emerging from phases one and two of the study; these workshops were part of a conference held by Creativity, Culture, and Education, which is Creative Partnerships’ parent organization. Finally, a survey was distributed to 3,110 schools, each of which had some level of involvement with Creative Partnerships. Of the 9,321 surveys sent, 2,295 teachers responded, a 25% response rate. Of those who did respond, eighty-nine percent reported that they had “some” or “considerable” involvement with the program. Fifty-six reported that having long-term involvement with the program. The majority of respondents (72%) were primary school teachers.

At the start of the project, the researchers posed four potential impacts based on previous research: these included “personal,” “interpersonal and leadership,” “teaching and learning” and “career,” as the domains into which data could be categorized. This typology, or system of classification, was refined during phases two and three, and then analyzed statistically for reliability during the survey phase. The reliability proved high, which reaffirmed the impacts initially outlined by the researchers were supported by the data the teachers reported on the surveys.

Limitations of the Research:

The case study portion of the research was conducted with only fifteen teachers, while the survey included 2,295 teachers. It may be difficult to ascertain if the fifteen case study members’ experiences are directly reflective of the group as a whole, particularly given that the researchers did not share their criteria for selecting the case study teachers from the larger pool of program participants. Also, the Creative Partnerships program incorporates not just artists into its programs, but also includes others deemed “creative practitioners” (e.g. designers and engineers); therefore the findings of this study cannot be attributed solely to the arts or to arts education.

Questions to Guide New Research:

What happens to teachers who are engaged in arts-focused creative learning partnerships, both personally and professionally? How can education administrators begin to actively construct programming that empowers teachers and allows them to fulfill their own creative potential as educators? What happens to students and to schools when teachers are encouraged to be creative and to develop their own agency as leaders?