The History of CSI

The research project to investigate the possibility of developing a robust measure of the creative environments of schools was established in June 2016. Funding for the project was provided through the University of Auckland’s Creative Thinking Project as the result of a significant philanthropic gift by the Chartwell Trust.  A team of senior academics and researchers from the Universities of Auckland, Sydney and Monash were brought together to develop an index using quantitative data to inform government policy on creativity education whilst simultaneously providing support to make schools more creative places.

The goal of the Creative Schools Index is to develop a multidimensional model of student experience of classroom-based creativity through a construct validation approach.

The initial project team included:

  • Professor Peter O’Connor The University of Auckland
  • Professor Michael Anderson The University of Sydney
  • Associate Professor Kelly Freebody The University of Sydney
  • Associate Professor  Michael Ginns The University of Sydney
  • Dr Stephen McTaggart The University of Auckland
  • Associate Professor Anne Harris Monash University, Melbourne.

International expert advisory committee

  • Professor Pam Burnard , Cambridge University
  • Associate Professor Julie Dunn, Griffith University
  • Professor Robyn Ewing, University of Sydney
  • Dr, Michael Finneran, University of Limerick
  • Professor Penny Hay (creative learning environments – UK)
  • Dr Mary Ann Hunter, The University of Tasmania
  • Professor Andrew Martin, University of New South Wales
  • Professor John O’Toole, University of Melbourne
  • Professor Jim Tognolini, University of Sydney

We drew upon and adapted Harris’s (2016) research into creative skills and capacities (see Table 2.2, pp.42-3), as well as a measure of environments fostering creativity (see section 3.1 of Davies, Jindal-Snape, Collier, Digby, Hay, & Howe, 2013 for a review of the role of environments in school-based creativity). Eleven dimensions of a creative environment were hypothesised.  We applied a construct validation approach using confirmatory factor analysis to an instrument traversing the 11 dimensions in the initial testing of the instrument in New Zealand Primary schools. Fit of a higher order factor model was deemed acceptable, providing evidence of within-construct validity of the instrument. Evidence for between-construct validity of the instrument was provided through substantial correlations of the overall “creative classroom” latent factor with self-reports of classroom participation and school enjoyment.

Since 2017 The Index has been used in 56 schools in New Zealand and Australia with 16,000 students participating.

The Creative Classrooms Index has provided schools with valid and reliable data that goes beyond a single creative environment ‘score’ to provide information on a range of dimensions constituting a creativity-fostering environment. In the schools we have worked in we have provided a fine-grained understanding of the environment and  have assisted in the design and delivery of more focused, context-specific professional learning.

We anticipate the more wide-scale application of this instrument will allow systems and academic communities to generate a broader picture of the development of environments that foster creativity, and develop understandings for specific demographic (e.g., cultural, indigenous, gender, socio-economic status) groups that may or may not be served well by current school environments.

The School’s Creative index can provide information on the relationship between creativity and student achievement.  The project aims to be scalable at a level where policy arguments can be argued on the interconnectedness of the environment for creativity and achievement in the key areas of literacy and numeracy and student motivation.  We understand a statistically reliable index builds on the qualitative research that has recognised the interrelationship for many years and should speak more readily to government education policy makers.