TEACHING AT PITT: Bring a spark to the classroom with creative pedagogy


Creative pedagogy is an approach on shaping classes by having learners become creators in their disciplines. Instructors can build students’ knowledge through creative activities. Faculty must consider teaching their topics in new ways, in using a variety of tools and collaborating with diverse people to further expand students’ aesthetics appreciation and enhance their thinking skills. 

As we celebrate the Year of Creativity, Provost Ann Cudd noted that “creativity unites all of the University’s intellectual and artistic endeavors, from neuroscience to sculpture, from legal scholarship to computer science, from music to pharmacogenomics.”

How can instructors introduce their students to a revitalized way of learning called “CREATIVITY?” We decided to provide answers in an acrostic format to generate some ideas. (An acrostic is a poem in which the first letter of each line spells out a word, message or the alphabet).

Center for Creativity  

Located in the lower level of the University Bookstore, the Center for Creativity connects students, faculty and staff outside their disciplines and units to “make stuff.”  It is a place for innovative growth mindset.

Also check out:

Read and View Resources

Look no further than the lessons taught by Pittsburgh’s favorite hometown hero, Fred Rogers, in the new biopic called “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” starring Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers (check out a trailer here).  Other lessons to promote creativity in education are listed in a 2012 article by Miriam Clifford in opencolleges.edu.au.

Explore City and Communities

By encouraging students to use their University of Pittsburgh ID card to travel free on public transportation in Allegheny County to visit other neighborhoods, instructors are providing the tools for students to fuel their curiosity and build their explorative nature while becoming familiar with different cultures and people.

Find ideas for places to explore at:

Address Sensitive Issues

Design an activity that involves doing something rather than saying something on sensitive topics. Instructors can “debrief” students through project-based learning, media representation or stimulation. Bringing emotions into the classroom can inspire and birth new ideas.

Find ideas at:

Teaching Support

From classroom materials to learning management support (LMS) to peer observation, the Teaching Center provides opportunities to learn about pedagogical and technological techniques.  Assistance will come from other people who one can connect and converse about teaching and learning to promote creativity.

Initiative for Graduate Students

Got Teaching Assistants? Have them participate in the Graduate Student Teaching Initiative, a service that strengthens their classroom presence and instructional techniques.

Visit the Community Engagement Centers in Homewood and Hill District. 

Learning is best connected when students engage in concepts and values affecting life in a meaningful way. Instructors also can help students be enriched through collaborative thinking to solve societal problems. Take a look at what makes up the creative impulse in the book “Thinking Hats and Coloured Turbans” by Kirpal Singh.

Engage in Open Lab Activities

Housed in both Hillman Library and Alumni Hall, the Open Labs are makerspaces that inspire innovation in teaching and learning through emerging technologies such as 3D printing, 360 video, virtual reality, laser cutting/engraving and vinyl cutting.

Creativity in the classroom allows instructors to provide space and possibility for innovation and entrepreneurialism. Faculty should always provide opportunities for students to creatively grow while taking risks in order to learn.  This comes when instructors can demonstrate enthusiasm and openness towards learning new methods and approaches. Instructors can kickstart students’ journeys of self-discovery and exploration by bringing creativity lens inside the classroom to help students become positively productive persons.


Bell, S. (2017). High Impact Creative Pedagogy: Using a Maker Model of Composition. Journal of Faculty Development, 31, pp. 19-25.

Cremin, T. (2019). Creative pedagogies: A systematic review.  Research Papers in Education,  p. 1.

Pilcher, K. (2017).  Politicising the ‘person’: the resitant potential of creative pedagogies in teaching and learning ‘sensitive’ issues.  Teaching in Higher Education, 22(8), pp. 975-990. doi/full/10.1080/13562517.2017.1332030

About the authors

Charline Rowland is a teaching consultant at the University Center for Teaching and Learning. She provides teaching and consultation support on best practices for instruction, diversity and inclusion, mentoring, and scholarly and creative initiatives.

Christopher Cornejo is a sophomore majoring in communications with a minor in political science. He is also a resident assistant in Litchfield Tower A.