Research into Creativity, Education and Professional Practice

Submitting Institution

University of Chester

Unit of Assessment


Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Education: Specialist Studies In Education
Studies In Creative Arts and Writing: Art Theory and Criticism, Performing Arts and Creative Writing

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Summary of the impact

The focus on creativity in educational practices at Chester is through the Centre for Research into Education, Creativity and Arts through Practice (RECAP), directed by Adams (since 2010) and Owens (since 1993). They have worked worldwide to bring creativity into educational and professional practices by developing innovative approaches to teaching and learning. Their research has brought about extensive international partnerships between HE, arts and professional and business institutions and groups, which has informed policy development on creative education worldwide. Their contemporary creative pedagogies have impacted on teacher education and the professional development of teachers, arts groups, communities and businesses throughout this international community.

Underpinning research

2.1 For many years research into creativity through practice has been undertaken at Chester through the work of Allan Owens (Professor, University of Chester, 1988 — present) into process drama. In 2010 Owens was joined by Jeff Adams (Professor, University of Chester, 2010 — present), who had been carrying out similar work at Goldsmiths College into contemporary art practices in education. Owens has developed an artistic form that has impacted in a wide range of contexts including the social sector, in education, health, and public service, and also in private business; the trajectory of his research and practice has been concerned with pioneering the use of Pre-text process drama as a form of artistic initiative beyond mainstream education, which allows people and organisations to rehearse and work through processes that can lead to change in working practices, behaviours and values. Adams leads the field in contemporary international visual arts education, and is principal editor of the leading international journal iJADE (International Journal of Art and Design Education); through his work on contemporary arts pedagogies education at Chester has led to a research partnership with TATE (Tate Liverpool); Adams critical work on creative curriculum and pedagogy has been influential on schools and colleges in many countries. Owens' and Adams' written and performance-based outputs have enabled key professionals in seven countries to apply creative pre-texts and contemporary pedagogies to their professional practices.

2.2 The strong international profile of Owen's work in this field, combined with Adams' scholarly activities enabled the foundation of the new international centre for Research into Education, Creativity and Arts through Practice (RECAP, 2013). The focus on creativity and the arts through practice is a defining feature of the Centre's work, which is a neglected area of research in education and professional practice, despite the expansion of the creative industries worldwide. Practice-based research means that research is conducted through the medium of the practice itself — from making artworks through performance, film, art, creative writing, dance or music, to conducting research through professional educational practices such as teaching, coaching and management.

2.3 Adams' and Owens' research, combined through RECAP, has a portfolio across the disciplines of the arts in education, performance arts, applied drama and theatre, popular cultural forms such as comics and street theatre, and in professions such as health, justice, heritage, social work, arts-based organisations and businesses. In each of these areas their work has had — and is having — significant impact. The work has attracted major grants, detailed below, which have enabled collaborative research with their networked and partner institutions. The work on creativity builds on the extensive international and theoretical work in this field over many decades, and adds a practice-based, intercultural and contemporary dimension to the body of research.

2.4 The main findings of their research into creativity are concerned with:

  • The introduction of (often unorthodox) contemporary creative practices into strategies for teaching and learning;
  • The significance of contemporary creative pedagogies for intercultural understanding and conflict transformation;
  • The incorporation of creativity into education policies and curricula worldwide.

References to the research

3.1 Adams, J. (2010) Risky Choices: The dilemmas of introducing contemporary art practices into schools, British Journal of Sociology of Education, 31 (6), 683-702. DOI: 10.1080/01425692.2010.515110.


-Journal's 2012 Impact Factor: 0.976;

- Highly respected international journal

- 446 article full text views and downloads,

- cited by Atkinson, Watermeyer & Delamont, (2013)in BJSE 34:4

- Associated with the funded research: `Investigation into State Guidance and Policy on Creativity' for Esmée Fairbairn funded in collaboration with Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool Hope University, Edge Hill University and Cumbria University. 2010-2013. (£62,000) Jeff Adams, co-investigator.

- Associated with impacts 4.1, 4.2, 4.5, 4.8

3.2 Adams, J. (2013) The Artful Dodger: Creative Resistance to Neo-liberalism in Education, The Review of Education, Pedagogy and Cultural Studies, 35 (4): 242-255. DOI: 10.1080/10714413.2013.819726


- High status international (American) education and cultural studies journal

- Principal editor Henry Giroux;

- Associated with the funded research: `Investigation into State Guidance and Policy on Creativity' for Esmée Fairbairn funded in collaboration with Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool Hope University, Edge Hill University and Cumbria University. 2010-2013. (£62,000) Jeff Adams, co-investigator

- Associated with impacts 4.1, 4.2, 4.5, 4.8

3.3 Holtham, C., Dove, A, and Owens, A. (2011) Building on Cultural Spaces and Places for enhancing the intuitive capabilities of students of business and management, Art Design & Communication in Higher Education, Vol.10 (2) pp. 163-178 ; ISSN:1474-273X DOI: 10.1386/adch.10.2.163_1


- Well established and high status arts journal

- Associated with impacts 4.1, 4.2, 4.5, 4.8

3.4 Owens, A. (2004). Generative Space: Skinship and Vulnerability in Intercultural Applied Arts Work. Drama Research Vol.3 National Drama, ISSN 1470 0484 p.55-65.

Associated with impacts 4.3, 4.6, 4.9

3.5 Owens, A. (2005) `Planning for the Possibilities of Dissensus in Process Drama', Hyva Hankaus: Teatterikorkeakoulun julaisusarja nro 38, eds. Korhonen & Airraksinene, Helsinki, Draamatyo. ISBN 952-9765-38-, pp.8-16 (can be supplied by the University upon request)

- Associated with impacts 4.3, 4.4, 4.7, 4.9

The following research projects were informed by the research reported in the publications above:

`Creative Pedagogies in Palestinian (West Bank) and English (North West) schools: A Comparative Study in collaboration with Bethlehem University', British Academy Award, 2012-2015. £30,000, Jeff Adams, Principal investigator, Allan Owens, co-investigator. Informed by 3.1

Creative Pedagogy: Revitalising Palestinian Schools, World Bank Quality Improvement Fund, in collaboration with Bethlehem University, An-Najah National University, Hebron University, Islamic University-Gaza, Palestine; March 201Dec. 2012, US$150,000, Allan Owens, director. Informed by 3.4 and 3.5

`The Gypsy Roma Traveller and Settled Community Situation': an arts based research project, Cheshire West and Chester Local Authority Race Hate Crime Fund, March 2011- 2013 £21,518, Allan Owens, director. Informed by 3.5

Intercultural Awareness and Competence: EU Erasmus Intensive Programmes, Allan Owens director, University of Chester lead institution, with partner universities: PHVien, Austria, Univ.Flensburg-Germany, Univ. Malaga-Spain, Linkopings University, Sweden; June 2011-Sept. 2013; 122,000 euros. Informed by 3.5

Manager 2.0 Investigating `New Leadership' through process drama as a form of research based theatre Tekes: Finnish National Agency for Innovation and Technology Funding, Lapeenranta Innovation Unit, Finland (2012-2014) 16,000 euros; Allan Owens, Principal Investigator. Informed by 3.5

`The use of Process Drama Across disciplines and professions in Higher Education and beyond' HEFCE NTFS Project. 2003-2013. £50,000, Allan Owens, Principal Investigator. Informed by 3.5

Details of the impact

The impact of the research is evidenced as follows, under the three themes identified above.

The introduction of contemporary creative practices into strategies for teaching and learning

4.1 A key partner and collaborator institution, Tate Liverpool, the research into contemporary creative education has brought about changes in the methods gallery staff use to work with the public. Their professional development and training is affected by doctoral research at the gallery, supervised by Adams, into participatory, learner-centred pedagogies. The impact of these new approaches is evidenced in the Tate's research and policy reviews (2013).

4.2 Room 13, the young children's `International Community of Creatives' have collaborated with the iJADE and RECAP conferences (2011) and Adams has carried out extensive research into their work over many years, influencing their unorthodox pedagogical approaches. Adams was a contributor delegate at Room 13's presentation to the Scottish Parliament's symposium (Hollyrood, Edinburgh, April 2013) on creativity. Adams's work and influence is cited on the Room 13 website.

4.3 In Finland, with key collaborator Theatre Academy of Finland (TAF), Owens' Master Courses at TAF, spanning 17 years (1995-2013) for multi-professional groups, have seen the establishment of Pre-texts by professionals in theatres, prisons, education, health and business. Owens' Pre-texts publication has been translated into a joint edition with a new foreword on impact in 2010, and is required reading for drama pedagogues in Finnish universities. Owens has also worked on 15 other projects in the universities, prisons, city theatres and the Tampere Theatre Festival, reaching approximately 2,000 participants.

4.4 RECAP is supervising four doctoral students (drama and theatre practitioner educators) from Sweden with a visiting research fellow from the University of Stockholm. Practice-based research here (2007-2013) has lead to the widespread reconceptualisation and use of creative approaches with young people and other client groups, emanating from the four groups and Swedish arts institutions in which our students are based.

The significance of contemporary creative pedagogies for intercultural understanding and conflict resolution

4.5 In Palestine (1996- 2013) Adams' and Owens' research into the comparative intercultural use of creative pedagogies, with key collaborators the University of Bethlehem and An Najah University, with 20 primary school beginning teachers in the British Academy funded research (2012-15). Owens has been researching with Palestinian institutions and cultural groups since 1995, including all 11 universities in the West Bank and Gaza, including the World Bank project (2011/2012), see World Bank report). New artistic forms have brought about change in educational practices in arts and community groups (e.g. creative pedagogy at Al Rowwad Children's Theatre in the Aida Refugee Camp), and in West Bank institutions (e.g. the introduction of creative pedagogies in West Bank primary schools in partnership with Bethlehem Univeristy) and in colleges (new creative practices and resource room at Alrowwda Technical College, Nablus). The number of colleagues participating in workshops between 1996 and 2013 is approximately 1,400.

4.6 For education professionals in Cheshire Local Government, the impact has been around the means of creating spaces for dialogue about tensions between Gypsy, Roma Traveller and settled communities; Owens has held 21 research based workshops and performances with 350 young people, 254 teachers and members of the wider education workforce including governors councillors and local government officers (2010-2013).

The incorporation of creativity into education policies and curricula worldwide

4.7 The creativity research in Japan (2000-2013), with key collaborators Taichi Kikaku Theatre Company Tokyo, Japan, NEC, Tokyo University of Technology, Japan, and National Children's Theatre Association, Japan, has seen the application of Pre-text workshops incorporated into the training of voice actors, including NEC (the largest training course in Japan), children's theatre practitioner training (NJCTA). Owen's 22 performances and workshops in Japan and the UK, over 13 years, have involved approximately 2,500 participants and included three reviews in the Japanese National Children's Theatre Association's publication.

4.8 Adams has twice been invited to the Korean Art Education Association (KoSEA), 2012-13, to deliver keynotes and publish papers in the Association's annual international conference publication. The 150 delegates represent schools and colleges across the Republic. Practitioner contributors (submitted to iJADE and iJADE conferences, 2010-13) from Korea cite Adams' work and use his critical methodology in their pedagogical development.

4.9 Eighteen executive managers and business consultants engaged in the Tekes National Finnish funded research project Manager 2.0 Investigating `New Leadership'.(2012/2013).They have employed arts based initiative methods in their own organisations and consultancies; they range from small to medium enterprises employing between 100-150 people; A leading feature article in the leading Finnish business journal FAKTA ( No 20, 2013 (3) pp.18-23) reported on the project.

NB: Owens' and Adams' combined body of practice-based research has attracted more than £270,000 of funding.

Sources to corroborate the impact

  • Foreword to 2nd Edition of `Drama Kompassi', Pekka Korhonen, Finland (2010); supports 4.3.
  • Seis, E-R. (2013). Draamatyopaja kasvattaa esimiehia, Fakta, Business Journal, Finland (Review of the two year research based project Manager 2.0. pp 18-23); supports 4.9, 4.3
  • Preface to Forcas, J. (2011). `Mapas Teatrales'. Written by Artistic Director, Theatre Pa'tothom, Barcelona; supports 2.1, 2.2
  • Grünbaum, A. (2009). Resande I process drama — Allan Owens på Vasterberg, RAD Drama Forum, 2009, ISSN 1652-9286, RAD, the Swedish National Drama Association; supports 4.4
  • Foreword to Kobayashi, Y. (Tokyo City University) & Neelands, J. (University of Warwick). Applied drama: communication through pre-texts. Tokyo: Tosho Bunka Press; supports 4.7
  • World Bank Project Report (2012). `Reviving Palestinian Schools: Creative Pedagogies (2011-2012); supports 4.5

In addition, the University holds on file correspondence from a range of users/beneficiaries of Adams' and Owens' research and practice which includes statements from the Korean Art Education Association, Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (Korea), Theatre Academy Helsinki, Theatre Patothom, La Neveva Theatre Company, Bethlehem University, Lahti School of Innovation, Tate Liverpool and Room 13 International.