Funding award to allow research into creativity in science education

A collaborative project between the University of Aberdeen and the University of San Andres in Argentina has received a financial boost from the British Academy’s International Partnership and Mobility scheme.

Dr Donald Gray, Director of Research and Interdisciplinarity at the University’s School of Education has been awarded funding of £26,145 in order to work with Dr Melina Furman, Dr Maria Eugenia Podesta and Dr Jason Beech from the University of San Andres to explore creativity and its role in science education. Dr Laura Colucci-Gray, Aberdeen’s School of Education will be working with Dr Gray on the project.

The project will investigate and examine the impact that various forms of expressive arts, such as art and design, dance, drama and music, can have on the teaching and learning of in-service science teachers. A recently published systematic review of research (Jindal-Snape et al, 2013) suggests that  there is evidence that creative learning environments have positive impacts on pupil attainment, confidence, resilience, motivation, problem-solving, interpersonal skills and school attendance. The Aberdeen/San Andres research hopes to provide a foundation for further studies by examining the opportunities and challenges to implementing creative learning approaches in science classrooms.

Creativity in Education and Teacher Education: Perspectives and Challenges in Arts and Science Educational Collaborations, has been funded for three years, during which time Dr Gray and Dr Furman’s research will involve a series of workshops and seminars.

The project comes on the back of a previous study carried out by Dr Gray in collaboration with the Aberdeen City Arts Education Team, Arts as a Tool for Learning Across the Curriculum (ATLAC), which investigated the impact of using various forms of expressive arts with student teachers to increase creativity in teaching and learning. The research indicated that ATLAC, among a number of other findings:

  • created wider scope for creativity in lesson delivery which in turn, contributed to potentially deeper curriculum knowledge for both the students and the pupils through interconnected learning
  • contributed to shaping enjoyable and ‘active’ learning experiences for all,
  • promoted inclusive practice in the classroom and
  • contributed to the student-teachers’ emerging professional identity which benefited from learning to explore the subject content and the learning contexts from the cross-curricular experience.


Over the course of the next three years the team will carry out their research.

The first year will see current practice in creativity in science identified and interviews conducted by researchers.

Dr Gray will also travel to Argentina to participate in seminars with colleagues there.

Year two will consist of workshops being held in each county and also follow up and final interviews.

The final period of the research will involve the drafting of findings and follow up visits and interviews with participant teachers to see if they have continued to use creative approaches.

Dr Gray is looking forward to getting the project underway.

He said: “This funding will allow us to examine how effective the use of arts-based approaches can be in developing creativity in science education. Creativity is increasingly recognised as a very important competence linked not only to aesthetic productivity but also to problem-solving abilities and divergent thinking. These are competences required in addressing the global problems we are now confronted with. It is important that these are nurtured and developed in all areas of education including, and some might say particularly, science education.”

The International Partnership and Mobility Scheme aims to support the development of partnerships between the UK and other areas of the world where research excellence would be strengthened by new, innovative initiatives and links.

The Scheme is open to three-year and one-year partnerships between UK scholars and scholars in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, South Asia, East Asia and South-East Asia.