ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2020, Vol. 52 ›› Issue (9): 1057-1070.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2020.01057

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The development of creativity in senior primary school students: Gender differences and the role of school support

ZHANG Jinghuan1(), FU Mengmeng1, XIN Yuwen1, CHEN Peipei1, SHA Sha2   

  1. 1 School of Psychology, Shandong Normal University, Jinan 250014, China
    2 Army Command College, Nanjing 210045, China
  • Received:2019-11-07 Published:2020-09-25 Online:2020-07-24
  • Contact: ZHANG Jinghuan
  • Supported by:
    National Key R & D Program(SQ2017YFB1400100);National Natural Science Foundation of China(31771235)


Creativity has been emphasized as a key competence for adolescents to achieve success in the rapidly changing world. Although developmental psychologists have put tremendous efforts into identifying the developmental trajectory of creativity, no consensus has yet been reached. Researchers have found many factors that potentially affect the development of creativity, including individual differences (such as gender differences) and the influence of the classroom environment. Besides, previous studies have not examined the creativity trajectory taking both the initial level and the growth speed into consideration. To address these flaws, the present study adopted a longitudinal design to explore the creativity development of senior primary school students through the between-person comparisons of different gender groups and school supports (the support from teachers and peers) as well as the within-person changes in response to the changing supports from schools.
Two hundred and three Grade-4 primary school students (109 boys and 94 girls, mean age = 10.43 years, SD = 0.62 years, during the first phase of the test, T1) from three elementary schools participated in the three years’ longitudinal study and were assessed for three times (T1, T2, T3). Runco Creativity Assessment Battery (figural divergent thinking tests from rCAB) and Perceived School Climate Scale were used to measure creativity and school support, respectively. The study project was reviewed and approved by the Ethics Committee of Shandong Normal University and obtained the informed consent of parents of the participants. The data were managed and analyzed using SPSS 22.0 and HLM 6.08 software. A series of analyses, including descriptive, correlation, and multilevel analyses, were conducted to explore the developmental trajectory of creativity and the potential relationship between the school support and creativity.
The results of the study were as follows: (1) The fluency of creativity of senior primary school students from grade 4 to 6 showed a linear growth trend, while the flexibility and originality of creativity showed a non-linear growth trend. In addition, the initial level of creativity was positively correlated with its growth speed. (2) Individual differences existed not only in the initial levels of fluency, flexibility, and originality but also in the growth speed of fluency and originality. (3) Senior primary school girls performed significantly higher at initial levels of flexibility and originality than their male counterparts. (4) On the between-person level, the interaction between teacher support and gender significantly predicted the initial level of flexibility; teacher support significantly positively predicted the initial level of fluency; teacher support significantly positively predicted the growth speed of originality. (5) On the within-person level, time-varying teacher support significantly positively predicted time-varying fluency.
The current study is, to our knowledge, the first exploration to describe the developmental trajectory of senior primary school students’ creativity in Mainland China using a longitudinal design. These findings will deepen the understanding of developmental rules of creativity and provide implications for the cultivation of creativity among senior primary school students.

Key words: creativity, school support, gender difference, longitudinal study, senior primary school students