Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Siegesmund, Richard

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Art and Design


Art--Study and teaching (Middle school)--Middle West; Art teachers--Middle West; Creative thinking--Study and teaching (Middle school)--Middle West


More than ever, creativity is a necessary outcome for education. A global and networked society requires U.S. citizens to innovate within a variety of complex economic, political, and social realities. The necessity of creativity highlights a crucial role for art education in contemporary education. However, there is a lack of clarity about what constitutes creativity. In particular, there is a lack of knowledge about how research, policy, and the life contexts of art educators relate to the operationalization of creativity in practice. This study addresses an area of neglect by exploring relationships among categories of creativity in research, federal and state art education policies, and the operationalization of creativity by middle level art educators. Relationships among life contexts of middle level art educators and their operationalization of creativity were also explored. Three state cases -- Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota -- each with dissimilar levels of art education policies, provided the policy context for this study. This research identified five problem-based categorizations of creativity with a range of communicability. While the life experiences, education level, and work contexts of middle level art educators were found to have an inconsequential relationship with the ways middle level art educators operationalize creativity, findings indicated that instructional time most closely related to the use of more socially relevant and communicable categories of creativity in instruction. Findings also suggest that degree program quality, not the type of institution, and the climate of the school context in which they teach more closely relate to how middle level art educators operationalize creativity. This study demonstrates how informal policy activities can be more influential in promoting research-based definitions of creativity than formal policies, which promote a more rhetorical version of creativity. Finally, this study included the development of a survey instrument for identifying categories of creativity, along with a framework for policy research in art education with applications for policy studies and strategic advocacy.


Advisors: Richard Siegesmund.||Committee members: Keith Millis; Kryssi Staikidis; David Walker.||Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations.


xiv, 324 pages




Northern Illinois University

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