“Should I bother being creative in my teaching?”, my U:PASS leader asked. He had run a perfectly good session using interactive Google Docs and Jamboard to work out problems in a first-year maths subject, looking at Poisson distributions and eigenvalues. Adding creative elements can take more energy and time. So should we bother? And if yes, why?

1. Being creative often leads to higher retention

When I ask my leaders what they remember from the two-day U:PASS training, they nearly always remember the competition activity with big puzzle pieces on the floor. Why? Because it was creative. You can also use online creative tools like Kahoot to revise from the previous week, as the research shows us spaced retrieval is a great retention strategy.

2. Being creative leads to higher engagement

This week I’ve seen the importance of being creative when making worksheets. In the past my sheets were solely question and answer. However, by working with the other PAN leaders, I now see that making more creative activities, like crosswords, are a good way to cover content without the work seeming repetitive.

U:PASS Physics leader

It’s no coincidence that when you ask the best teachers at UTS what they do, there are elements of creativity in there.  Just check out National Teaching Award winner Amanda White’s work – you will find lots of creative elements there, and perhaps pick up some ideas you can use, too! 

3. Being creative encourages better feedback about how the students are going

Students loved the activities, using Mentimeter and Snap Cam to increase engagement and overall vibe of online communication.

U:PASS IT leader

If the students are more interested and engaged, they are likely to feel more comfortable and give good feedback about their learning in the classroom. Also, tools like Kahoot and Mentimeter (UTS now has an institutional subscription) can give you insights into how your students are going and highlight where they’re having difficulties.

4. Being creative helps lift mood

I was glad that the activity that I had run allowed the students to better understand the subject as they all felt more excited and happy after leaving the class.

U:PASS Science leader

Creativity is a great mood lifter, for both students and teachers stuck at home. And we all need a mood lifter!

Want to see creativity in action? Check out U:PASS leader Calvin talking Snap Cam, mindmaps and Mentimeter in this short video (5 minutes): 

Constraints can also be great catalysts for creativity. Take a look at what some inventive colleagues in FEIT have been doing with hats, rubber bands and other household objects to carry out hands-on activities normally done in face-to-face workshops.

Have you been getting creative in your classes lately? Share what you’ve been doing in the comments below!


Dunlosky J, Rawson KA, Marsh EJ, Nathan MJ, Willingham DT. Improving Students’ Learning With Effective Learning Techniques: Promising Directions From Cognitive and Educational Psychology. Psychol Sci Public Interest. 2013 Jan;14(1):4-58. doi: 10.1177/1529100612453266. PMID: 26173288.

IJERPH | Free Full-Text | Psychological Wellbeing and Academic Experience of University Students in Australia during COVID-19 (mdpi.com)

Photo by Dstudio Bcn on Unsplash

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