Fostering Creativity through Innovative Course Design: Working with Adult Learners to Reclaim Agency

By Therese Madden.

Published by The International Journal of Learning in Higher Education

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: March 31, 2015 $US5.00

Every college course begins with a syllabus. Traditionally, the first day of class is spent reviewing it, with students dutifully absorbing course requirements. Imagine the reaction in a classroom when the syllabus presented was blank and the students were asked to design their own assignments. Confusion gave way slowly to enthusiasm as the class began a quest to reclaim agency and foster creativity. This case study was inspired by articles criticizing business schools for their pedagogy and curriculum. These articles call for leaders better equipped to handle workplace challenges creatively, recognizing that leaders in upcoming decades will face challenges that we cannot yet even imagine, much less train for. It was also inspired by criticism of higher education, suggesting that learners equipped for the future need to reclaim agency in ways that traditional pedagogy disallows. Research for this proposal includes both a review of pedagogy and of quantitative assessments. It is grounded in the experience within a course developed for adult (nontraditional) undergraduate students, most of whom are also working professionals. The research occurs in an interpretive model of participatory inquiry oriented toward new understandings about how adult learners can reclaim agency, foster creativity, and gain important insights about work and meaning.

Keywords: Innovation in Teaching, Creativity, Adult Learners

The International Journal of Learning in Higher Education, Volume 22, Issue 2, June 2015, pp.1-6. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: March 31, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 592.511KB)).

Dr. Therese Madden

Program Director, Human Services, School of Business and Management, Notre Dame de Namur University, Belmont, CA, USA

Dr. Therese Madden has taught at Notre Dame de Namur University since 2008. A former Human Resources professional and civil servant, she doesn’t think of herself as creative; this fuels her interest in the topic and in exploring barriers to creativity in academic and work environments. She is passionate about learning and eager to encourage students to embrace lifelong learning in ways that are authentic and meaningful to their purpose.