The role of teachers’ creativity in higher education: A systematic literature review and guidance for future research (2024)


Amidst today's fierce global competition, many countries have emphasized the importance of creativity. Creativity has been seen as an assurance for organizations to enhance competitiveness(Caniëls et al., 2021; Meng & Zhao, 2018), and been seen as a prerequisite for employment (Tubb et al., 2020). At the organizational level, enterprises are facing unprecedentedly fierce market competition, where they need to take advantage of their talent and have them compete in the marketplace or otherwise be eliminated. It has also been shown that creativity is among the roots(Amabile et al., 1996; Valaei et al., 2017) and one of the phase (Fischer et al., 2016) of organizational innovation. At the individual level, creativity is considered a key skill and an ability (Corazza, 2016; Kampylis & Valtanen, 2010; Laar et al., 2020; Mi et al., 2020) for professional development. Employees with high creativity are more prepared to succeed in their professional development journey (Valverde et al., 2020) as opposed to non-creative ones.

As the whole society is leaning towards more creativity, higher education practices have also started to require more creativity from both teachers and students, due to the ever-changing economic environment and the rapid development of new technologies that necessitates creative higher education graduates (Andersen, 2022; Deverell & Moore, 2013; Fan & Cai, 2022). As highlighted by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, there are four “super skills” that have been identified as essential for students in the 21st century: creativity, communication, critical thinking, and collaboration (Kivunja, 2015; Tuazon & Sumadsad, 2022). College students require not only professional skills, but also soft skills, which include the ability to creatively tackle complex problems, collaborate with others, and address economic, social, and cultural issues in order to effectively navigate the challenges of an ever-changing world (Tell & Hoveskog, 2022). In efforts to nurture the creative development of our students, the faculty and its academic staff constitute an integral part of this educational practice (Vodovnik, 2019).

Creative teachers are essential to student creativity (Fischer & Golden, 2018; Fischer, 2020; Li et al., 2022; Wang & Jia, 2023) and to implement higher education curriculum more effectively(Ayob et al., 2013). Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the traditional educational model in higher education has undergone a significant transformation, shifting from a face-to-face, campus-based lecture format to a more student-centered approach that incorporates online and hybrid instruction (Khamis et al., 2021; Oweis et al., 2022). In this context, there is an increased urgency for teachers to explore, innovate, and employ creativity in order to effectively facilitate learning (Fischer & Tatomir, 2022). For instance, teachers must embrace teaching technologies such as web platforms, video conferencing systems, and virtual offices to update their course designs(Salas-Rueda et al., 2021). Moreover, teachers must adapt their management strategies to facilitate online learning and possess the competencies to effectively motivate and engage their students, given the challenging teacher-student interaction that is inherent in virtual classrooms(Albrahim, 2020).

It is perhaps worth noting that creativity, in general terms, has been shown to be domain-specific (Baer, 2016; Cropley & Patston, 2019; Tierney & Farmer, 2002). As an ever-expanding field, creativity in education is still facing great challenges. Creativity in education should – like the general concept of creativity itself – be more context-specific (Cropley & Patston, 2019). It is also acknowledged that more dynamic viewpoints on creativity are required to comprehend its complexity, worth, and significance in educational environments (Beghetto & Corazza, 2019), which forms the necessity to provide a systematic literature review of the field.

However, despite the fact that research on creativity is flourishing in recent years, there is no consensus on the definition of the concept of creativity (Abdulla & Cramond, 2017; Akyıldız & Çelik, 2020; Chan & Yuen, 2014; Jahnke et al., 2015; Said-Metwaly et al., 2017) . Teachers often have differentiated and nuanced understanding of creativity and lack a clear framework for its application in the classroom (Lasky & Yoon, 2020). Hence, they are usually not prepared to include creative approaches in their classrooms (Burnard & White, 2008). Without a clear conception of creativity, some teachers even thought that they are not capable of incorporating this element into lessons. If teachers hold false beliefs about creativity, it will likely slow down efforts to embed this element in schools or even jeopardize the whole effort (Beghetto et al., 2010; Bereczki & Kárpáti, 2018; Cropley & Patston, 2019). This insight prompts the following research questions: “What does teachers’ creativity mean in higher education? What is the significance of teachers’ creativity in higher education?”

On the other hand, teachers are often thought of as resistant and slow to change (Ellis & Childs, 2019). Though creativity is critical in human development (Valverde et al., 2020) and may be cultivated through appropriate human resource development practices by supporting employees’ learning and capability development (Collin et al., 2020), little attention has been paid to assist teachers in developing their creative skills (Fischer, 2020). Higher education institutions seems to not have the sufficient resources to help teachers develop creative skills (Adams, 2019; Grewal et al., 2019), despite the fact that training creative teachers has increasingly become an important task in this domain (Borodina et al., 2019). Especially with the proliferation of digital tools and technologies impacting teaching and learning everywhere, the efforts to nurture teachers’ creativity become increasingly challenging with the lack of unified framework to lend support in this area.

Summing up the aforementioned considerations, the purpose of this review is to clarify the concept of teachers’ creativity in the educational context, to identify or demonstrate its significance in education, and investigate the factors that influence teachers’ creativity in educational context to further identify opportunities for future research in this field. To achieve these purposes, three research questions led this review: (1) What does teachers’ creativity mean in higher education? (2) What is the significance of teachers’ creativity in higher education? (3) What factors influence teachers’ creativity in higher education?

Section snippets

Definition and dimensions of creativity

The American psychologist J.P. Guilford first initiated a discussion on the concept of creativity by equating it with divergent thinking (Guilford, 1950), without giving it an explicit definition. Later, many scholars attempted to make the concept more precise. An example of such effort is to define creativity as “the emergence in the action of a novel relational product, growing out of the uniqueness of the individual on the one hand, and the materials, events, people, or circumstances of his


Traditionally, systematic review as a form of research synthesis was viewed as a way for scholars to map the existing intellectual area (Pahlevan-Sharif et al., 2019; Weed, 2006). Since there are no detailed review checklists for conducting systematic literature reviews in social sciences (Pahlevan-Sharif et al., 2019), the review protocol adapted for this study (see Figure 1) was built based on Kitchenham and Charters (2007) and the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and

Description of included studies

An overview of the literature is presented in Figure 3 below. A total of 2,360 articles were retrieved from Scopus and Web of Science (WoS). After removing 295 duplicates, 2,065 documents were screened. During the second round of screening, by comparing the studies’ titles and abstracts with the eligibility criteria, 1,975 articles did not meet the criteria while 2 articles lack access to the full text. The last round of screening then involved checking the full text articles in detail. After

Results of the findings

In accordance with the research objectives, the review of the findings is presented below:

Discussion and implications for future research

The primary objective of this study is to determine the research trend on teachers’ creativity in higher education in the last ten years. This review provides the explication of teachers’ creativity definitions, determines evidence of its importance in higher education, and identifies the factors related to teachers’ creativity. Only 48 articles published between 2011-2021 met the criteria of this review. This indicates that studies on teachers’ creativity in high education are still scarce.


This review is subject to the usual limitations of systematic literature review. There exists a language bias as authors were able to only review literature written in English. Additionally, the review is only restricted to articles, without including conference proceedings and dissertations. This may potentially lead to publication bias. As for the synthesis process, it can be viewed as subjective as the review was conducted quantitatively based on the counts of the included articles in this

Author Statement

Weijing Han: Conceptualization, Methodology, Data analysis, Writing- Original draft preparation.

Nur Aira Abdrahima: Reviewing and Editing,

Declaration of Competing Interest

The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.

© 2023 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

The role of teachers’ creativity in higher education: A systematic literature review and guidance for future research (2024)


What is the role of teacher to develop creativity learning? ›

Moreover, they do this by introducing their students to different ideas and ways of thinking, encouraging exploration and experimentation, and providing a safe and nurturing environment. By doing this, teachers help students develop the skills and confidence they need to be creative.

Why is creativity important in higher education? ›

Creativity is a vital component of innovation and problem solving, driving some of the brightest ideas in science and the humanities. It is heralded as one of the most desirable attributes by employers, yet many courses leave students little room for creative exploration.

What is the teacher's most important consideration for supporting creative growth? ›

Most important is that teachers learn how to teach playfully, which means working on creativity tasks right along with the students, suggesting “crazy” ideas, taking risks, using humor, and modeling their own creative thinking process.

How teachers can promote creativity in the learning environment? ›

Other ways to teach and encourage creativity in the classroom include:
  • Set time aside for journaling.
  • Participate in five minutes of mindfulness each day.
  • Build brainstorming sessions.
  • Use gamification to encourage participation.
  • Encourage risk taking.
  • Leave the classroom more often.
  • Allow students to teach.
  • Use visual aids.
Sep 15, 2020

What are three of the characteristics of teachers who facilitate creativity? ›

Teachers Who Promote Creativity See Educational Results
  • engaging in problem-solving.
  • demonstrating critical thinking.
  • making connections between different subjects.
  • having deep learning of subject matter.
  • retaining what they have learned.
Oct 28, 2019

What makes a teacher creative? ›

A super creative teacher sees all learning as a chance to explore, experiment and take risks. Creativity isn't about being able to draw, sing or dance. These things are a by-product of having tapped into a certain mindset where ideas begin pouring out.

Why is creativity in teaching valuable in the 21st century? ›


It means students will be able to look at a problem from multiple perspectives — including those that others may not see. This 21st-Century Skill allows students to embrace their inner strengths from big-picture planning to meticulous organization.

What is creativity and why is it important how is creativity linked to teaching and to learning? ›

Creativity is the interaction between the learning environment, both physical and social, the attitudes and attributes of both teachers and students, and a clear problem-solving process which produces a perceptible product (that can be an idea or a process as well as a tangible physical object).

Why is creativity and innovation important in education? ›

Innovating and being creative allows us to better understand concepts. By utilizing a creative, experimental method of teaching, schools develop thinkers who are able to use their own strengths to explore their varied interests.

What are the 4 elements of creativity? ›

Paul Torrance's work in Creativity. Torrance, the “Father of Creativity” talked about four elements to creativity: Fluency (# of ideas), Flexibility (variety of ideas), Originality (uniqueness of ideas), and Elaboration (details of ideas).

What are the 7 components of creativity? ›

Below, we summarize our findings about these key developmental characteristics—imagination & originality; flexibility; decision making; communication & self-expression; motivation; collaboration; and action & movement—and invite you to review the full chart on page four.

What is the most important quality of a creative teacher? ›

Some qualities of a good teacher include skills in communication, listening, collaboration, adaptability, empathy and patience. Other characteristics of effective teaching include an engaging classroom presence, value in real-world learning, exchange of best practices and a lifelong love of learning.

How is creativity applied to teaching methods? ›

In the process of creative teaching, the teacher inspires learners' interests in learning material, and then leads students to find the problem by themselves creatively, or present specific problems and ask learners to apply all sorts of available resources to find the best satisfying solution creatively.

What is creativity in teaching? ›

Creativity is a cluster of skills that are needed to produce ideas that are both original and valuable (Sternberg, 2001), and Teaching Creatively has been defined as 'teachers using imaginative approaches to make learning more interesting, exciting and effective' (NACCCE, 1999.

What is promoting creativity through education? ›

Being prepared to be wrong is an important part of being creative and having original ideas that have value. Providing learning environments free from the fear of being wrong establishes the trust that is a critical condition for creativity to flourish.

What are the 5 P's of creative teaching? ›

Allow me to introduce you to the 5 P's of the creative process, which I believe to be absolutely essential to the success of any creative endeavor no matter the medium. They are: Perception, Practice, Perseverance, Patience, and Passion.

What are the 3 P's of creativity? ›

These are the aspects of creating that I cultivate and without them I am lost: Practice-I practice creating, creating is my practice! Patience-I am patient with my creations-they can not be rushed or judged! Play-Creativity is Play-release the outcome and experience the playfulness of creating again, like a child!

Which are the 3 critical attributes of creativity? ›

Features of creativity
  • Imaginative.
  • Purposeful.
  • Original.
  • Of value.

How can a teacher be creative and innovative? ›

Here are ten ways teachers can create innovative learning spaces.
  1. Mindset. ...
  2. Self-Reflection. ...
  3. Ask Open-Ended Questions. ...
  4. Create Flexible Learning Environments. ...
  5. Personality Matters: Create A Place For All Learners. ...
  6. Use Problem-Finding. ...
  7. Let Students Take Risks And Fail. ...
  8. Consider A Flipped Classroom Model.
Nov 19, 2018

What are some examples of creative teaching? ›

14 Creative Ways to Engage Students
  • Assumption Busting. Assumption busting is particularly effective when one is stuck in current thinking paradigms or has run out of ideas. ...
  • Brain-sketching. ...
  • Brainstorming. ...
  • Concept Mapping. ...
  • Exaggeration. ...
  • Fishbone. ...
  • Laddering. ...
  • Negative (or Reverse) Brainstorming.

What are the 4 C's of education? ›

The four C's of 21st Century skills are:

Critical thinking. Creativity. Collaboration. Communication.

Why creativity is important in the future? ›

Creativity enables alternative ways of thinking. It unblocks old patterns or habits of thinking. It allows for non-linear thinking. Creativity enables empathy.

Why creativity is an important skill? ›

Creativity is a valuable workplace skill because it can be a useful tool for developing new ideas, increasing efficiency and devising solutions to complex problems. While you may have natural creativity skills in certain forms, it is a skill that can be learned and developed over time.

What activities enhance creativity? ›

18 creativity exercises to try at work
  • Incomplete figure test.
  • 30 circles.
  • Paper clip test.
  • Musical ideas.
  • Re-purposed product.
  • Dictionary story.
  • Compound collaboration.
  • Building blocks.
Sep 30, 2022

How does creativity support children's learning and development? ›

A child's creative activity can help teachers to learn more about what the child may be thinking or feeling. Creativity also fosters mental growth in children by providing opportunities for trying out new ideas, and new ways of thinking and problem-solving.

What is the importance of creativity and innovation today? ›

Creativity improves the process of solving problems. It doesn't matter if we're talking about developing a new strategy or an innovative way to stay ahead of the competition. Creative problem solving gives that competitive edge that any business is striving to achieve.

Is creativity important in today's school system? ›

Creativity is a critical component of education in the 21st century. By promoting creativity, educators can help students develop important problem-solving and critical thinking skills, as well as foster their emotional and social development.

What are the benefits of creativity and innovation? ›

Innovation enables problem-solving and provides creative insight that allows you to look at things from a different perspective, regardless of whether you are developing a new product, refreshing strategy or finding an original way to stay ahead of the competition.

What are the 5 A's of creativity? ›

The 5 A's framework—actor, action, artifact, audience, affordances—is grounded in current literature from sociocultural and ecological psychology as well as theories of the distributed mind and tries to achieve a more comprehensive and unitary perspective on creativity.

What are the 4 C's of creative thinking? ›

Communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity are considered the four c's and are all skills that are needed in order to succeed in today's world.

What are the 4 P's approach of creativity? ›

These 4P's are: Person: understanding the traits, characteristics or attributes of the creative person; Process: describing the operations or stages of thinking used in the creative process; Press: examining the nature of situations and its context within the creative press (or environment) and the Product: identifying ...

What are the 6 P's of creativity? ›

The Six P's: process, product, person, place, persuasion and potential will now be further explained: Process: refers to how the path from problem to an idea takes place, that is to say, how the creative process occurs at a cognitive level.

What are the 6 theories of creativity? ›

According to this model, six main elements contribute to creativity: intelligence, knowledge, thinking styles, personality, motivation, and the environment. Intelligence contributes using three elements drawn from Sternberg's triarchic theory (later expanded into the theory of successful intelligence).

What are the 6 stages of creativity? ›

The creative process consists of six working phases, inspiration, clarification, distillation, perspiration, evaluation, and incubation. During a particular piece of creative work each phase should be experienced many times, in no definite order, sometimes for a very short time.

What are the top 5 qualities of effective teachers according to teachers? ›

Top 5 Qualities of Effective Teachers, According to Teachers
  • Ability to develop trusting, productive relationships.
  • Patient, caring, kind.
  • Knowledge of learners.
  • Dedication to teaching.
  • Subject matter knowledge.

What qualities are required to be creative and innovative in the classroom? ›

Five Characteristics of an Innovative Classroom
  • Reflection. Innovative classrooms are often inquisitive and reflective. ...
  • Constant Learning. ...
  • Technology. ...
  • Self-Directed Learning. ...
  • Place-Based Learning.
Jun 1, 2022

What is the most important creativity or efficiency? ›

Unfortunately, an over-emphasis on efficiency tends to kill creativity. In fact, you'll get better, more creative results if you focus less on efficiency. A the messiness of “ah ha.” Creativity is the fuel for innovation.

How do teachers improve students creativity? ›

The faculty can set up a variety of learning exercises for the students to foster creative thinking, such as giving them paint and paper and asking them to draw whatever comes to mind or asking them to close their eyes and simply observe their thoughts as they arise, among other options.

What is a creative centered teacher? ›

Creative teachers deliberately spark interest, curiosity, and real-world application of knowledge through collaborating with fellow teachers and others.

How do you infuse creativity in the classroom? ›

Here are ten tips on how to increase creativity in your classroom.
  1. Learn by doing. Explore, discover and develop. ...
  2. Encourage curiosity. ...
  3. Allow failure. ...
  4. Ask open questions. ...
  5. Embrace creativity within the everyday learning. ...
  6. Respect each child's input. ...
  7. Not everything needs to be evaluated. ...
  8. Support one idea to lead to another idea.
May 1, 2022

Why is creativity skills important for teachers? ›

A teacher must have a sense of creativity so that they can find learning models suitable to apply in the classroom. A creative teacher can find the ways to solve students' problems in the class, at school, or outside the school.

Is creativity a teaching strategy? ›

Findings supported the known benefits of promoting creativity as a learning strategy. This included the students engaging with emotional issues, improving social engagement, resourcefulness, and personal ability.

What are the different types of creativity in education? ›

4 Types of Creativity
  • Deliberate and cognitive creativity. ...
  • Deliberate and emotional creativity. ...
  • Spontaneous and cognitive creativity. ...
  • Spontaneous and emotional creativity.
Nov 9, 2022

What is 1 teacher's role in the child's creativity? ›

Teachers must give children experience in deriving as many and different responses to a problem as possible. Foster divergent thinking. Teachers must encourage their pupils to search for relationships. The most important aspect of creativity is the ability to tolerate ambiguity.

What should teacher do to support student creativity? ›

5 Ways to Encourage Students to Be More Creative
  • Inspire students to take risks with their ideas. ...
  • Encourage them to come up with solutions they haven't considered before. ...
  • Give feedback on each idea and help them improve it. ...
  • Showcase creativity as often as possible. ...
  • Allow time each day or week for independent projects.
Jul 5, 2021

What is the teachers role in developing creative and critical thinking skills of the learners? ›

After introducing new concepts and content, teachers should give freedom to students to learn what they want to learn. This way definitely helps students to develop critical thinking skills. When students learn the things of their choice, they will learn effectively.

What are teacher roles in creative curriculum? ›

The role of the teacher

Provide many and varied experiences for children. Allow children time to practice new skills. Develop positive relationships with each child. Create a safe environment where children can explore confidently and learn.

What do teachers think about creativity? ›

It's important to teach creatively for a few reasons: Creativity is the heart of the motivational classroom. It empowers students and teachers to express ideas and opinions in unique ways. Creative teaching leads to active learning.

What is your goal as a creative educator? ›

Plus, the goal of creative education is to challenge each student and encourage originality. Instead of "standardizing" how students approach a problem, different responses would be encouraged. This, in turn, allows more than one type of learner to exist within a classroom.

What is the concept of creativity in education? ›

Creativity is the interaction between the learning environment, both physical and social, the attitudes and attributes of both teachers and students, and a clear problem-solving process which produces a perceptible product (that can be an idea or a process as well as a tangible physical object).

How can you promote creativity in the classroom? ›

Here are ten tips on how to increase creativity in your classroom.
  1. Learn by doing. Explore, discover and develop. ...
  2. Encourage curiosity. ...
  3. Allow failure. ...
  4. Ask open questions. ...
  5. Embrace creativity within the everyday learning. ...
  6. Respect each child's input. ...
  7. Not everything needs to be evaluated. ...
  8. Support one idea to lead to another idea.
May 1, 2022

How can you as an educator encourage critical and creative thinking in the classroom and why is it important to do so? ›

Build in opportunities for students to find connections in learning. Encouraging students to make connections to a real-life situation and identify patterns is a great way to practice their critical thinking skills. The use of real-world scenarios will increase rigor, relevance, and critical thinking.

Which strategy can be used for developing creative thinking in education? ›

Brainstorming provides an environment that allows people to open up and share thoughts and ideas freely, without limitations and prejudice. There are generally two types of brainstorming: Individual and Group brainstorming.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Golda Nolan II

Last Updated:

Views: 6498

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (58 voted)

Reviews: 81% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Golda Nolan II

Birthday: 1998-05-14

Address: Suite 369 9754 Roberts Pines, West Benitaburgh, NM 69180-7958

Phone: +522993866487

Job: Sales Executive

Hobby: Worldbuilding, Shopping, Quilting, Cooking, Homebrewing, Leather crafting, Pet

Introduction: My name is Golda Nolan II, I am a thoughtful, clever, cute, jolly, brave, powerful, splendid person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.