Teaching Strategies to Promote Imagination and Creativity Through Student Choice


  • Darlene A. Smucny George Mason University
  • Courtney Baker George Mason University
  • Monisha Tripathy George Mason University




teaching online, creativity


High-agency learning activities empower students to take more active roles in their own learning, directed by their interests, curiosities, and choices. Educators, particularly K-12, have long asserted that student choice of learning activities encourages a greater degree of personal engagement with instructional content, leading to more confident, interested, imaginative, and creative students (e.g., Kohn, 1993; Ronan, 2015).à However, implementing these strategies at the college level often proves challenging as course instructors merge learner engagement strategies, such as student choice, while still sufficiently addressing course objectives and content. Additionally, creating àsupportive classroom environments that promote ââ¬Åopen-endedââ¬Â assignments at times are met with student resistance. This session is designed to provide ideas and tips to instructors wishing to employ student choice to enhance active learning, imagination, and creativity in their courses.à Presenters will share best practices for implementing student choice in learning activities and assignments, primarily using examples from asynchronous and synchronous online courses across various disciplines at George Mason University. We also will encourage participants to reflect on how learning activities and assignments in their own courses might be adapted to include student choice to promote imagination and creativity in university-level learning across course delivery formats.


Kohn, A. (1993). Choices for Children: Why and How to Let Students Decide. The Phi Delta Kappan, 75(1), 8ââ¬â20. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20405017

Ronan, A. (2015, March 20). 7 Ways to Hack Your Classroom to Include Student Choice. Retrieved March 16, 2016, from http://www.edudemic.com/7-ways-to-hack-your-classroom/

Author Biographies

Darlene A. Smucny, George Mason University

Assistant Director for Quality in Online Instruction, Office of Distance Education (administrative faculty)

Courtney Baker, George Mason University

Courtney Baker is assistant professor in the Mathematics Education Leadership program (CEHD). She holds a PhD in education with specializations in mathematics education leadership and in teaching and teacher education from George Mason University. Baker has worked as the mathematics resource teacher at Virginia Run Elementary in Centreville, Virginia, and served as a mathematics content professional development facilitator for Fairfax County Public Schools. She has taught George Mason University graduate courses on teaching elementary math in international schools, mathematics methods for the elementary classroom, and assessing mathematics learning and modeling mathematics in the primary grades. Baker most recently presented her research on The Impact of Beliefs and Background on a First Year Teachers Problem Solving Skills at AERA 2013.

Monisha Tripathy, George Mason University

Instructional Designer

Office of Distance Educationà





1:50pm-2:30pm Mini-Workshops, Panels, & Roundtables