Chu Yew Yee, Sharon Lynn (2015-05). Performative Authoring: Nurturing Children's Creativity and Creative Self-Efficacy through Digitally-Augmented Enactment-Based Storytelling. Doctoral Dissertation.
Psychological research, especially by Paul Torrance, has shown that the child's engagement in creative activities tends to drop precipitously at around the 3rd- to 4th-grade period (8 to 11 years old). This phenomenon, called the 'Fourth-Grade Slump', occurs possibly because of an increase in social awareness and critical self-evaluation of competence in the child during this period. Increasing awareness of the complexity of the world's problems, new paradigms of design focusing on the user, and advances in technology has led to rapid developments in the design and development of tools to support children's creativity. Research in creativity support tools has generally focused on augmenting creative performance within specific tasks, using strategies such as facilitating access to information, or exposing the user to a space of possible combinations. Much less studied however, is how tools may help to develop positive attitudes towards creativity in individuals. This is important, especially in systems designed for children where the focus on the development of the person, during critical periods of growth such as the period of the Fourth-Grade Slump, may be said to be of equivalent or greater importance than the support of process or the generation of product. In the domain of storytelling or narrative construction, work in child development, educational pedagogy, social psychology, and performance studies have looked at how to tap into the power of children's imagination during pretend play to nurture their storytelling abilities and their sense of self-efficacy or confidence. These interventions typically take the form of drama workshops or classroom roleplaying exercises. While results appear to provide good evidence that drama interventions and theater-based methods have some positive effects on children's development of narratives, studies have shown mixed results in terms of the effects on children's self-efficacy. I refer here to self-efficacy in the sense of a child's perception of her creative abilities, in other words, her belief that she can produce creative outcomes. This creativity-oriented sense of self-efficacy has been called 'creative self-efficacy'. This dissertation investigates how pretend play can be harnessed into the design of an interface to support children's creativity in storytelling and their sense of creative self-efficacy. This overarching question was explored through four phases of research: Exploration, Design, Evaluation, and Integration. The Exploration phase consisted of two studies: a) a set of interviews with elementary school teachers, and b) an experimental study of how the interface or medium may affect children's creative storytelling process; The Design phase consisted of two experimental studies, and design and development: a) the first study investigated how the physicality of props may support children's enactment-based storytelling, and b) the second study explored the influence of the presentation of digital contextual/environmental cues on children's enactment-based storytelling, c) design and development consisted of an exercise using the NEVO methodology to embody design knowledge gained from the Design phase into a concrete usable system, called DiME; The Evaluation phase consisted of two studies: a) the first was a pilot study that tested the usability of DiME and protocol of use with children, and b) the second was an experimental study across two school districts with different profiles investigating the effects of digitally-augmented enactment-based storytelling using DiME, on children's creativity, story writing and creative self-efficacy; The Integration phase of the research consisted of a workshop with elementary school teachers, which initiated an exploration into how such a story authoring approach may be used in an elementary school curriculum and setting. The body of work that this dissertation presents elucidates (i) a physical enactment-based method for th