neuroarts: exploring the creative mind

Welcome back to the series, neuroarts: exploring the creative mind. I’m excited to continue this collaborative journey with andrea robin studio, examining the fascinating intersection of creativity, neuroscience, and learning. In this second installment, I turn my gaze toward integrated learning labs, building on the foundation laid in the kickoff post

Is learning a creative practice?

Consider the contrast between traditional learning experiences and those driven by genuine curiosity and passion. Recall the rote memorization and information overload of lectures, contrasted with the organic pull toward a special interest, be it astronomy, wildlife, cooking, or music. In the latter, curiosity became the driving force, propelling a learning process characterized by seeking insights, application, and connection.

Creative learning, at its core, thrives on curiosity, understanding, and practical application. Reflect on how this approach differs from the conventional perception of learning as a systematic, step-by-step instruction. What if effective learning were viewed as a creative practice? Research suggests that integrating creativity significantly enhances the learning experience, turning it into an engaging, enriching, and effective journey.

Academic studies support the notion of learning as a creative practice. Craft and Jeffrey’s study, “Creative Practice and Practice Which Fosters Creativity” (2014), reveals that practitioners embracing creative practices reported a more positive learning experience, highlighting the impact of creativity on learning effectiveness. Similarly, the study “Creative Teaching and Learning: Towards a Common Discourse and Practice” (Jeffrey, 2006) advocates for reshaping educational programs to foster creative learning environments, emphasizing the potential for innovation.

In the realm of learning, creativity extends beyond creating masterpieces; it involves the imaginative absorption, analysis, and application of knowledge. Creative learning encourages exploration, experimentation, and problem-solving through critical thinking. This approach enables individuals to tackle challenges from varied perspectives, enhancing their adaptability to new situations.

How can creativity benefit learning?

Creativity’s impact on learning is profound and multifaceted, elevating the educational experience by boosting cognitive complexity, refining problem-solving abilities, and fostering unique cross-concept connections. It serves as the embodiment of our innate curiosity and inventiveness, rendering the learning journey more immersive and personal.

Engaging in creative practices during learning yields transformative benefits:

Motivation and engagement

Creativity ignites intrinsic motivation, prompting learners to delve deeper into the subject matter. This heightened engagement not only enriches the learning experience but also nurtures individual creativity expression.

Enhanced cognition and brain health

In addition to its immediate benefits, creative learning plays a crucial role in shaping cognitive function and promoting brain health over the long term. Engaging in creative practices stimulates various cognitive processes, such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and memory recall. Studies suggest that regular participation in creative activities contributes to the growth of new neural connections, a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity. This adaptability of the brain not only strengthens existing neural pathways but also fosters the creation of novel ones, enhancing overall cognitive flexibility. Furthermore, the mental stimulation provided by creative learning has been linked to a reduced risk of cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases in later life. Embracing a creative approach to learning is not just an investment in immediate educational gains; it is a proactive step towards sustaining cognitive vitality and promoting brain health throughout one’s lifespan.

Emotional development

Creative learning practices contribute to emotional development, offering learners the freedom to explore and acquire new knowledge. This process fosters the development of self-esteem, confidence, and emotional intelligence, encouraging a more introspective and empathetic approach to learning.

Meaning-making and real-world connections 

Incorporating creative strategies allows students to synthesize and express information more effectively. This not only enhances engagement but also elevates meaning-making and the ability to establish real-world connections. Creative practices disrupt traditional teaching methods, fostering a sense of community and encouraging collaborative risk-taking.

Unlearning and experimentation 

Creative learning involves the crucial aspect of unlearning — shedding preconceived notions or habits that may hinder creativity — and embracing a culture of experimentation. This approach emphasizes the need to unlearn institutional habits for fostering an innovative environment.

Creativity serves as a catalyst for transforming the learning process into a dynamic, engaging, and personally enriching journey. By promoting creativity in learning, we not only support academic and professional development but also encourage personal growth, emotional well-being, and the cultivation of lifelong learning skills.

what are some strategies to inspire creativity in learning?

Unlocking the transformative power of creativity in learning involves a spectrum of strategic approaches that collectively encourage creative expression, cognitive and emotional development, and the cultivation of an innovative culture.

Effective instructional strategies 

Employing instructional strategies explicitly designed to foster creative thinking is paramount. Activities geared towards creative problem-solving or prompting learners to think in different ways (like examples provided in Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman) can stimulate creativity effectively.

Learning design for innovation 

Educators play a pivotal role in cultivating creativity by promoting creative problem-solving and design thinking. This approach not only boosts creativity but also equips learners with the skills for innovative thinking across diverse fields. It encourages experimentation, iteration, and the refinement of ideas, emphasizing the value of creative efforts.

Creativity in opportunity search and idea creation

Teaching learners creative search strategies empowers them to identify opportunities for creativity and innovation. This strategy is particularly valuable in solution-finding, encouraging learners to discern potential and envision a way forward in situations perceived as complex.

Incorporation of creativity into facilitators’ practice 

The understanding and application of creativity by leaders and facilitators wield significant influence over its integration into learning environments. Encouraging those responsible for facilitating learning to embrace and incorporate creativity into their personal and professional development fosters a more creative and dynamic learning atmosphere.

Creative problem-solving-based flipped learning strategy

Implementing a flipped learning strategy centered on creative problem-solving enhances creative performance. In a flipped classroom, independent engagement with lectures or materials precedes active learning in the classroom or workshop. This strategy not only promotes creative thinking but also encourages collaboration among learners.

These diverse strategies collectively harness creativity’s potential, creating a learning environment that goes beyond conventional boundaries, fostering innovation, and nurturing holistic development.

More to come

Having recognized the indispensable role of creativity in personal and professional development, the question now is: how can we, as learners, educators, and organizations, tangibly incorporate this creative approach into learning?

For individual learners 

Watch this space for resources designed to empower individual learners. I’ll share techniques and habits that foster creative thinking, elevate problem-solving skills, and infuse your learning journey with dynamism and enrichment.

For learning experience designers and facilitators 

Expect resources tailored for educators, learning experience designers, and facilitators. I’ll provide guidance on embedding creativity into learning processes, spanning effective instructional strategies to the implementation of a creative problem-solving-based flipped learning strategy. Transform your teaching approach to cultivate a creative learning environment.

For organizations 

Explore strategies for organizations to embrace a culture of creative learning for innovation. I’ll dive deeper into creating environments that nurture creative thinking, foster innovation, and champion a culture of continuous learning.

The objective extends beyond teaching creativity—it’s about instilling a culture of creative learning into every facet of our lives. Whether you’re an individual learner, a learning experience designer, or influencing organizational decisions, embracing creativity in learning promises more engaging, effective, and innovative outcomes. Stay tuned for deeper insights and practical guidance in the upcoming posts.


“Creativity enhancement through experiential learning” by A. Ayob et al. The study discusses how construct-based creativity models reflect creative behaviour through an experiential-based learning environment (source).

“Creativity and learning” by A. Knox. This article provides a discussion on how creative adult education can help enhance creativity (source).

“Problem-Based Learning Strategy: Its Impact on Students’ Critical and Creative Thinking Skills” by A. Nurkhin and R. A. Majid. The paper discusses the impact of problem-based learning on enhancing creative and critical thinking skills in students (source).

“Pervasive learning and technology usage for creativity development in education” by I. Shubina and A. Kulakli. The paper discusses the role of pervasive learning in enhancing creativity development (source).

“Delving into creativity and learning” by M. Karwowski et al. The study examines the relationship between creativity and learning (source).

“Creativity and learning in arts and creative practice” by J. McDougall, and S. Orr. The work explores the connection between teaching creative practice and learning (source).

“Research and creative practice” by L. Candy. It discusses the integral part of creativity in learning and how it impacts the learning process (source).

why phe·nom·e·na?

Once upon a time, in the ever-evolving landscape of education, there was a proactive learning designer. Driven by her passion for understanding and sharing knowledge, she was fascinated by the concept of phenomenon-based learning, a pedagogical approach supported by extensive research.

Recognizing the transformative potential of this approach, the learning designer decided to share her insights and experiences with a broader audience. Thus, the blog phe·nom·e·na was born.

phe·nom·e·na was more than just a blog. It was a beacon of learning, illuminating the practical application of theories and strategies in the real world. Each post was a testament to the designer’s journey of navigating problems in her practice, armed with the principles of phenomenon-based learning.

The learning designer understood that the true magic of learning lies in making connections, solving problems, and discovering the world. Grounded in these principles, she tackled challenges in her work, turning each obstacle into a learning opportunity. Then, she shared these experiences on phe·nom·e·na, offering readers a glimpse into the real-world application of phenomenon-based learning.

Readers found value in the designer’s honest storytelling, the practical insights, and the underpinning of solid research. The blog posts were not just narratives; they were case studies showcasing the effective application of  learning, an approach proven to foster deeper understanding, promote critical thinking, and facilitate meaningful learning.

As phe·nom·e·na grew, it became a community. Readers from all walks of life started contributing to the blog, sharing their experiences, insights, and even suggesting topics for future posts. The learning designer had created a platform where everyone could learn, grow, and share their journey of discovery.

Through phe·nom·e·na, the learning designer demonstrated the power and potential of phenomenon-based learning. She showed that every problem is a phenomenon waiting to be explored, understood, and shared. And in the process, she affirmed that learning is not a solitary endeavor but a shared journey of discovery.

And so, with every new post on phe·nom·e·na, the learning designer continues to inspire, educate, and foster a love for learning. She shines a light on the beauty of discovery, the thrill of problem-solving, and the joy of sharing knowledge. And in doing so, she reminds us all of the transformative power of education.


Education: Defining the Phenomenon

Making Sense of Project Phenomena in Information Systems Education

Teaching and Learning Through the Pedagogical Lenses of Phenomenology


what is integrated learning labs?

As a learning experience designer and educator who works with organizations and individuals in higher education, NGOs, government, and corporations, I’m fortunate to create access to quality integrated learning. 

I provide support to learners, educators, and leaders seeking to develop learning programs and cultures tailored to optimize the learner experience.

find more here soon!

I’m currently rebuilding integrated learning labs’ site to offer open resources to both learners and educators. Will look forward to sharing updates soon.

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