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Dennis E. Beck


It is vital for online educators to know whether the strategies they use help students gain 21st-century skills. One skill that has been identified as important in the 21st century is creativity; however, a gap existed in the literature concerning whether online courses could help students to develop creativity. Thus, the purpose of this study was to determine whether participation in online courses can help students develop creativity using asynchronous online discussions, textbooks, and teacher developed materials. Amabile's componential model of creativity formed the study's conceptual framework. A case-study approach was used to examine the question of whether asynchronous online discussions and other materials used in online courses could help students develop creativity. One professor, recognized by her peers for her expertise in online education, and three of her online graduate students who volunteered for the study, were interviewed using Zoom. Twenty-nine transcripts of asynchronous online discussions were analyzed using a sequential process of building an explanation, checking the explanation against the data, and repeating the process. Key results from the study indicated that project-based prompts, problem-based prompts, and heuristics used in asynchronous online discussions can help promote creativity. Recommendations for future research include conducting a similar case study with a more diverse group of participants and with a course in a different specialty. These findings may promote social change by helping online instructors use appropriate prompts for asynchronous online discussions that will help students refine their creative skills to ultimately use them in the 21st-century workplace.

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