Faculty of Professional Studies Outstanding Research Project Award

The  "Outstanding Research Project Award" is awarded to a faculty member in the Faculty of Professional Studies on the basis of a completed research project that makes an outstanding contribution to the recipient’s field. In the case of a tie, priority will be given to a junior faculty member.

Dr. Aljarrah's research study, “Exploring collective creativity in elementary mathematics classroom settings”, was motivated by his past experiences as a teacher: his stories and his students’ stories as they struggled together within a restricted classroom environment to create enough space for their creativity to emerge and flourish.

Creativity has been identified as an essential life skill that can be fostered with(in) a 21st Century education system that promotes the habits of inquiry, curiosity, adaptation, flexibility, initiative, expanding possibilities, divergent thinking, and the ability to use knowledge in distinctive ways (Beghetto, 2010; Beghetto & Kaufman, 2007, 2011, 2013; Burnard & White, 2008; Kelly, 2012; Runco, 2017; Runco & Beghetto, 2018).

The need to cultivate creativity in school students is echoed by the mathematics education community internationally. For instance, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
(NCTM)—a leading organization in the United States influencing mathematics education in Canada and around the world—argues that in today’s globalized and dramatically changing context, “those who understand and can do mathematics will have significantly enhanced opportunities and options for shaping their futures” (NCTM, 2000, p. 5). Doing mathematics includes the capacity to solve problems that cannot be solved directly by just applying standardized mathematical algorithms and procedures. Effective mathematical problem-solving requires creativity, and it involves creative thinking skills that have been used widely such as those identified by Torrance (1962): fluency, flexibility, elaboration, and originality.

The significance of this study lies not only in its potential contribution to curriculum theory and implementation but also in aiding practitioners in the field and learning more about how to foster, in the earliest years of schooling, the kinds of creativity valued by business and commerce. Theoretical and practical insights gleaned from Dr. Aljarrah's study would also provide important contributions to future curricular initiatives in this vein, especially regarding addressing the creativity of all students in the math classroom.

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