International Journal of Art & Design Education

A Long and Winding Road: Mature Students’ Responses to Creative Experience

Volume 22.3   2003



This paper reports mature students’ responses to a creative project, focusing on their own analyses to identify and demonstrate the conditions required to provide worthwhile creative experience for participants unused to such practices. In considering their reactions to the project brief, the paper demonstrates the lack of confidence felt by many when faced with creative work, arising out of myths about the exclusive nature of creativity. The report then identifies some ways in which a creative approach was fostered: by giving permission to non-experienced students to work in a creative manner (by dismantling some of the mythology), by providing a personal space (both physical and mental) for this to take place, by encouraging a playful attitude to the project that enjoyed ambiguity and uncertainty, and by feeding the students’ ideas with a programme of enhancement experiences. The place of one-to-one tutorials in developing an appropriate approach is evidenced. Throughout the paper, students’ own responses provide forceful support for engagement in practical creative activity, demonstrating the sense of empowerment felt, and showing how the experience initiated long-term developments in their thinking, in both professional and personal spheres.