This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Third Place Impact on Students' Creativity and a Comparison between Measurement Tools: An Experimental and Comparative Study




Sokienah, Yaman

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Consumer and Design Sciences


Learning spaces play an important role in the learning process, as the surrounding environment helps to shape human behavior. Specifically, researchers have suggested that, as a social species, humans interacting in open and social spaces improves their behavior and interaction. Moreover, creativity is one quality that might change depending on the learning environment. The social spaces that encourage students to collaborate and interact are called ‘third places’ (Waxman, 2006; Oldenburg, 1989). This study hypothesizes that, in an educational setting, students who are exposed to knowledge and are involved in learning in a third place environment will demonstrate more improvement in their creativity levels than those in traditional and high-tech spaces. This is the first study to compare three types of learning spaces in terms of their effect on creativity by trying to measure the differences empirically. In addition, this research will compare the two most common assessment tools, which are Torrance Test for Creative Thinking (TTCT), and Remote Associates Test (RAT); to establish the main differences between them and which is more reliable in measuring creativity, especially in learning spaces. The participants in this study (N=52) were recruited from two southeastern United States universities, and then divided into three groups: traditional classroom (n=19); high-tech classroom (n=14): and a third place (n=19). Students in all three groups took the pre- and posttests of two creativity instruments, the Remote Associates Test (RAT), and the Torrance Test for Creative Thinking - Verbal (TTCT-Verbal). Following the tests, the differences between the groups were analyzed and interpreted. One-Way ANOVA, Pearson’s Correlation, and Paired t-test were the main statistical analysis tools used to identify the differences between all three spaces and compare the two tests. The findings did not support the research hypothesis, as there was a non-significant improvement in creativity levels in the third place, as compared to the traditional or the high-tech classrooms. However, a larger sample size could provide more definitive results. Moreover, a longitudinal study could provide more information by starting with a pre-test at the beginning of the academic semester and continue using the space throughout the semester. Then, at the end of the semester, a post-test could be administered. In addition, fatigue may have had an effect on the results due to the intensity of the TTCT-Verbal test, which required a great deal of writing. The comparison showed that there was a non-significant correlation between the two measurement tools. Also, a paired t-test revealed that there was an improvement between the pre and post- RAT tests, and a decrease in the levels of creativity in the pre- and post- TTCT-Verbal tests. The difference between the results of the RAT and the TTCT in terms of student scores is suggested to be due to the different nature of the measurement tools. The results of this study provide major insights which raise the need of studying the many factors that might impact creativity and researchers should look at the process of creativity improvement as a whole not as one separate factor. Also, it raises the question: when choosing a measurement tool, the researcher should be asking the following question, is this the right population that the tool was intended to measure? Keywords: Third place; Learning process; Creativity; TTCT; RAT; Collaboration.