A phenomenographic study of creativity as an employability skill in Higher Education

Wadsworth, James (2020) A phenomenographic study of creativity as an employability skill in Higher Education. PhD thesis, University of Lincoln.

A phenomenographic study of creativity as an employability skill in Higher Education
James Wadsworth - PhD Professional - Education.pdf - Whole Document

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Item Status:Live Archive


The aim of this study was to better understand the meaning given by academics, students and graduate employers to the concept of creativity as an employability skill. The expectations incumbent upon UK Higher Education institutions to develop graduates with skills that meet with graduate employers’ expectations, appears to be ever growing and the increased scrutiny of institutional performance in this regard, via metrics such as the Graduate Outcomes survey and the Teaching Excellence Framework, seemingly promote the prioritisation of graduate employability skills. Creativity has been noted (Gray, 2016) as being an important skill for future employability and whilst agreement is apparent that creativity is valued, little in the way of a consensus regarding an actual definition of creativity is evident. Contextualised in UK Higher Education, the primary focus of the research was to explore the variation and complexities in the participants’ perceptions of creativity and, thus, establish a consensus of understanding of creativity as an employability skill. In doing so, the study begins to address the seeming lack of understanding which surrounds creativity per se and the apparent conflict between the underpinning values of Higher Education, which appreciate creativity and the risk aversion resulting from the metrification of the sector. The study adopted an interpretivist, phenomenographic position and undertook data collection employing a Constructivist Grounded Theory (Charmaz, 2014) approach; engaging 41 academics, 84 students and 25 graduate employers in the initial stage of data collection. Three academics, three students and two graduate employers participated in the latter three stages of data collection, with participants undertaking reflexive photography activity, unstructured and semi-structured interviews. Congruent with the principles of Grounded Theory (Corbin and Strauss, 2015), constant comparison, theoretical sampling and memoing were undertaken during the data collection and analysis. The findings of this study have illustrated consensual themes in the participants’ perception of creativity as an employability skill in a number of ways; specifically noting that the concept has two core aspects(processing of thoughts and production of a valued entity) which are influenced by surrounding factors (personal characteristics, collaborating with others, facilitating situational factors, understanding the subject). Furthermore, the research highlights that whilst elements of consensual understanding existed across the participants, a plurality of definition by participant grouping and subject domain emerged. Taking the themes and the plurality into account, the study generated 17 recommendations to subsequently inform future practices of graduate employers, and academics and students in Higher Education so as to better develop creativity as an employability skill in graduates.

Keywords:Creativity, Employability, Higher Education, Constructivist Grounded Theory, Plurality
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:46278
Deposited On:31 Aug 2021 10:31

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