Teacher as bricoleur: teaching for creativity in secondary school science education

Year: 2016

Author: Zipf, Reyna

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper reports on research that investigated creativity in secondary school science education. The research sought to identify the essences of pedagogical strategies that promote opportunities for secondary school students to engage in creative thinking in science. Science policy documents link secondary school science with the development of student creativity. Science education literature is laden with the expectation for science teachers to develop creativity and it is a recurring theme along with 'innovation' in science curriculum documents for secondary schools in Australia.Whilst science is implicitly understood to be a creative endeavour, and touted as a creative enterprise, there is doubt as to whether secondary school science nurtures creativity. Research suggests students are turned off science by transmissive teaching and focus on canonical abstract content. Contemporary science teachers face conflicting demands to teach established scientific knowledge whilst representing science as practised by scientists. How to nurture student creativity is not explicit in science education literature. The research objective was to make explicit pedagogies secondary science teachers use to engage students in thinking creatively.A qualitative methodological approach was designed amalgamating grounded theory, phenomenology and case study to form a blended strategy, ‘grounded, phenomenological case study’, to explore creativity in secondary school science. A researcher-as-bricoleur stance was adopted to take advantage of serendipitous opportunities to further the research goals.The research findings were that the secondary science teachers in the study drew on their pedagogical creativity and a bricoleur stance to enact creativity-focused science lessons. In addition, teacher emphasis on the creative process rather than the end creative product provided opportunities for students to engage in creative thinking. This creative thinking process was characterised by spontaneity, difference, both individual and collaborate input, risk, failure, fun, high quality questioning and it had a natural energy sustained by student interest, ownership, and talk. The study also found there was no one-way to nurture creativity in school science. The notion of teacher-as-bricoleur was central to the enactment of opportunities for student creativity in secondary school science. The ability to recognise and take advantage of serendipitous opportunities to further student creativity was a key element, and dependent on teacher experience and teacher pedagogical creativity. The findings have significance for secondary science teachers and those designing teacher education programs.