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Creative Inquiry:  Experimentation in Classroom Architecture

Creative Inquiry: Experimentation in Classroom Architecture

Author: UKy UndergraduateEd

The over all goal is competence in creative inquiry.  After completing this learning object, you will be able to explore your personal approach to the creative process, engage actively in the creative process, seek out input for others and develop potential  solutions for a problem, based on sound evidence and reasoning.

Watching the Robinson  video will introduce you to the current system of  education to support  learning and creativity and stimulate you own thinking about learning and creativity.  Recognizing how  we learn and how  we create can lead to more thinking "outside the box". You will design your ideal learning environment by arranging chairs in a classroom. Finally, you will compare your skill level to standards set for overall competency in the performance of creative inquiry-- a life skill for success in college and beyond.

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Rae Goodwin, University of Kentucky Faculty Art Show 2012This exercise was inspired by Rae Goodwin, Assistant Professor and Director of Art Studio Foundations, University of Kentucky, Department of Art. For details on her current projects, you can visit her website at:

Ms. Goodwin uses a similar activity as a way to orient her students in the first day of class in her Art Studio course "Two-Dimensional Surface" in the University's general education program, UK Core.  The University of Kentucky's UK Core Program includes a component in intellectual inquiry that focuses on creativity.  The creative process is critical to the vitality and relevance of learning, especially in addressing the challenges of the dynamic societies of today's world. This activity encourages you to approach a problem and analyze critically whether your proposed creative solution can work.



Introduction: Out of the Box thinkers

Central to the idea of education is where does learning happen-- Is it only in a quiet structured 50 minute classroom period? Where should learning in general, and active learning specifically, locate itself?  Lastly, where best does the creative process flourish - either from an individual or as part of a group?

This learning object activity offers you a way to see the continuity between your regular coursework and life outside of class. Active learning relies on your participation, inquiry and leadership.  This activity relies on exapted and divergent thinking which allows for more creative thought. The creative individual never stops learning and strives to think differently.

Learning to Be Creative

Watch this Ted talk from Ken Robinson, Author and educator, presented on June 2006 (18 minutes). Sir Ken Robinson is the author of "Out of our minds: Learning to be creative"

(2) Activity:

Follow this link to Great quotes on Creativity.  Select  a favorite quote. Write it down.  Make it your motto for a day or a week and reflect on  the experience of  carrying the thought with you for a day (or a week).  After a day, how did it impact your creativity?    For more go to:

(3) Activity: Role Play

Imaging walking into your ideal classroom. What does it look like? How are the desks and chairs arranged?  Refer to the Powerpoint slides below to complete the activity. 

(1)  Arrange the classroom chairs and sketch out your groupings in lines, semi-circles, squares, or circles configurations. Consider using a 3D modeling program to develop your drawings (go to:

(2)  Work with a friend, fellow student or colleague to  develop other arrangements

(2)  Develop one final plan and an explanation as to why this combination of chairs and space has the potential to facilitate student learning, inquiry and creativity?.

Classroom arrangments to Encourage Creativity

Alternate Activity: small group activity

Break up in to groups of 5-8 people each and follow  these steps.

(a) You have 8 minutes to rearrange the furniture in your group’s area into a new and interesting configuration.” The groups then rotate so that they are in front of a different group’s arrangement.  

(b) Work in groups to  create a  way to  describe this new arrangement and  how it can act to  make for better participation and interactivity.   Group members can chose to: draw the arrangement, a theater or dance class could re-enact the arrangement, a 3-D class could create objects on top of the arrangement, a 2-D class could create a collage inspired by the arrangement, a music class could compose a rhythm based on the visual activity in front of them OR students in any course could read the metaphoric content of the arrangement and write up their theory as a group (this has the potential for some great and humorous dialog.)

(c)  Each group must then present their work to everyone as a whole, and react to feedback and revision ideas.                      

(5) Self Assessment

Refer to the chart below detailing the components to achieving creative inquiry. How do you rate your skill currently? Rate yourself to see in which areas you have become more competent - or want to become over time. Know that creative inquiry is a life-long skill.


(6) Additional Resources


Challenge yourself to think more creatively.  Read one of the following books:

Edgar, Don W. Paula Faulkner, Ed Franklin, Neil A. Knobloch and Alan C. Morgan. Creative Thinking: Opening Up a World of Thought. w w w . a c t e o n l i n G . o r g. 

Gladwell, Malcolm.  blink, The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.  Back Bay Books, Little, Brown and Company, New York. 2005.

Isenbarger, Stacy editor. State of Play, divergent methods for creative exchange. Integrative Teaching International 2011.

Johnson, Steven. Where Good Ideas Come From, The Natural History of Innovation. Riverhead Books, New York. 2010.

Katz, Lawerence C. Ph.D. and Manning Rubin.  Keep Your Brain Alive. Workman Publishing Company, New York. 1999.

Stewart, Mary editor. Future Forward Four Minds for the Future. Integrative Teaching International Volume 1, Number 1. October 2010.

Stewart, Mary editor. Future Forward Manifestos and Manifestations. Integrative Teaching International Volume 1, Number 2. March 2011.