The Open UniversitySkip to content

Possibility thinking: culminative studies of an evidence-based concept driving creativity?

Craft, Anna; Cremin, Teresa; Burnard, Pamela; Dragovic, Tatjana and Chappell, Kerry (2012). Possibility thinking: culminative studies of an evidence-based concept driving creativity? Education 3-13, 41(5) pp. 538–556.

Full text available as:
PDF (Accepted Manuscript) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (482kB)
DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link:
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


The authors have for some years studied the concept of ‘possibility thinking’, or ‘what if’ and as if thinking in children aged three to eleven, which generates novelty - and the pedagogical strategies which foster it. They have argued, on the basis of previous qualitative studies, that ‘possibility thinking’ (PT) is at the core of creativity in education.

Having begun as a conceptual study for seven years this team has undertaken empirical studies of PT in classrooms. This paper discusses findings from the third phase of empirical work focusing on nine to eleven year olds. The particular research question addressed here is ‘What characterises possibility thinking as manifest in the learning engagement of children aged 9-11?’

A small-scale qualitative study, involving co-participation with teachers, the paper features episode analysis of naturalistic video data featuring children aged 9--11 in two schools. It focuses on possibility thinking evidenced by children engaged in a range of classroom activities, some established as individual activities and others as group work.

The study reveals some features of PT in both sites (question-posing, question-responding, self-determination, intentional action, development, being imaginative, play/playfulness, immersion and innovation) to differing degrees of strength. Risk-taking was absent in both and a new feature, collaboration, evident in both. Differences were documented in how question-posing and question-responding manifest, compared with earlier studies with younger children.

This study seeks to make an evidence-based contribution to the characterisation of PT as driving creativity in the classroom, with implications for research and practice.

Key words: possibility thinking, theorising everyday creativity in education

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2012 ASPE
ISSN: 0300-4279
Keywords: possibility thinking; theorising everyday creativity in education
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS) > Education, Childhood, Youth and Sport
Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS)
Research Group: Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology (CREET)
Education Futures
Item ID: 31388
Depositing User: Users 9543 not found.
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2012 16:47
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2018 14:40
Share this page:


Altmetrics from Altmetric

Citations from Dimensions

Download history for this item

These details should be considered as only a guide to the number of downloads performed manually. Algorithmic methods have been applied in an attempt to remove automated downloads from the displayed statistics but no guarantee can be made as to the accuracy of the figures.

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU