Engaging Imagination: How (and why) Creativity and play are essential to university learning

Alison James

Session Information

Year: 2016 | Time: 9:00am-10:15am (Keynote) | Location: Center for the Arts (Concert Hall)


In the higher education sector, the word “creativity” has become increasingly popular in terms of defining how we want people to think, perform their roles, approach challenges, and explore ideas. How we investigate and expand our creativity may be using methods and approaches that originate with the arts or by importing others from various domains: business, sociology, psychology, and many more. There is therefore a multidirectional flow of traffic around and between the disciplines in terms of where pedagogic practices have come from.

While creativity and innovation may be terms that we aspire to and are comfortable with in our different subject areas, a closely-allied notion—that of play—appears to be more problematic. Some of us are persuaded that play is vital to human learning and discovery at any age; others believe it to be too trivial or childish for tertiary level-study.

In this talk, I will focus on my use of creative, playful, and three-dimensional approaches to wrestle with complex topics presented by learning, teaching, and research issues and professional relationships/structures. Examples will include critical reflection, threshold concepts in the discipline, student exchanges, doctoral research, corporate strategy, team identity, functioning, and many others. I will argue that our conceptions of play within a tertiary setting must be broadened and deepened, while the contribution of creative, imaginative, and playful pedagogies across the disciplines needs to be better understood. This dual goal is essential not only to motivate and engage our students but to re-invigorate our practice as teachers.

Read and download the paper Innovating in the Creative Arts with LEGO


creativity; critical thinking; active learning; reflective practice


  • There are currently no refbacks.