CAG Board Member Dr. Laurel Brandon Wins NAGC Research and Evaluation Dissertation Award

By Yvonne de St. Croix, PhD | May 31, 2020

Laurel Brandon, who graduated from her doctoral program in 2019, has placed in the annual NAGC Research & Evaluation Network's 2020 Dissertation Award Competition for her study, "Teachers' and Students' Perspectives of School-Based Opportunities for Student Creativity". Dr. Brandon shares that she is "delighted" to receive this award.The Dissertation Award is designed to recognize high-quality dissertations relevant in gifted education, creativity, and talent development, support the development of emerging scholars through critical review of and substantive feedback about completed dissertation research, and to provide a forum for the presentation and dissemination of dissertation research conducted by leaders among emerging scholars.

Dr. Brandon will present her research at a special session at the NAGC Annual Conference in November. Her session will focus on her mixed-methods study which examined teachers' responses on the Imagination, Creativity, and Innovation (ICI) Index instrument's confirmatory data set (n=220). ICI Index scores represented teachers' predictions of how students would rate their school's support for student creativity, which was assumed to represent the teachers' perspective of the actual support for student creativity at the school. Teachers of grades 6-8 (n=55) had significantly lower ICI Index scores than teachers of grades 3-5 (n=155; p<.05). Regular classroom teachers (n=151) did not differ significantly from gifted and talented teachers (n=49) on their ICI scores. Teachers with high ICI Index scores usually discussed how the entire school community provided opportunities for all students to be creative, whereas teachers with low ICI Index scores reported that support for student creativity was absent or limited to specific groups, such as gifted students or the school chorus.

Qualitative analysis found that, when asked to give examples of products, performances, and services produced by students that were points of pride, most teachers discussed their own creative teaching practices rather than student-initiated projects.

Most major content areas were represented in these points of pride, and about one-quarter of responses were interdisciplinary. The most common audience for these points of pride was the school community. Time was often discussed as a support for creativity by respondents, and special periods, including Enrichment Clusters and Genius Hour, were common periods of time that teachers reserved for student creativity.

In her own work as a teacher, Dr. Brandon shared an example from her past regarding how she supported creativity by providing, "a dedicated time for student-directed projects, with the expectation that the students would periodically create things and present them to the class... [help] them to find resources and [raise] the expectations... and in my class in general, I often modeled and structured brainstorming, generation and elimination of ideas, and project management (e.g., calendaring, goal setting, breaking tasks down into daily to-dos, division of labor). By being open to students interests, Dr. Brandon was able to cultivate creative opportunities.

Dr. Brandon's advice to scholars is "prior to the start of their program, they consume a broad set of material (journal articles, presentations, books, etc. in many topics within the field) to discover what really piques their interest. Also, consider that any work you do during your studies may serve as a foundation for future work or publication." The Research & Evaluation Network's primary mission is to ensure a spirit of inquiry among NAGC members by informing the membership about research needs and methodologies and by encouraging and supporting them in their research efforts. Further, the mission is to develop and promote forums for coordinating research and disseminating it to educators and policy-makers that can make the important difference for all gifted children. More information about the Research & Evaluation Network can be found here.

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