Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Ralph G. Brockett

Committee Members

Mary F. Ziegler, Katherine H. Greenberg, John C. Hungerford


The purpose of this study is to understand the lived experience of adult graduate students who have had their creativity hindered in an educational context. The phenomenological method developed by Thomas and Pollio (2002) at the University of Tennessee was utilized to understand the essence of meaning and to gain an in-depth awareness into the experience of hindered creativity from an adult learner‟s perspective.

Participants in this study experienced having their creativity hindered in a variety of ways with a prolonged and multifaceted aftermath. The study was conducted with twelve adult graduate students from a state university. Utilizing phenomenology and transformative learning theory as the conceptual framework for the study, the data revealed three themes that stood out against the ground of the learners‟ mistrust of authority. A dynamic relationship between the professor and student within the academic box created the ground of the experience. Within the ground of the box participants experienced an initial mistrust of the professor who hindered their creativity. This mistrust dominated their experience and influenced their relationship with the professor and academia.

The mistrust was then interpreted by the participant to be either justified or unjustified depending upon the merit of the explanation provided by the professor upon the time of the hindrance. The outcomes of the hindered creativity were described by the participants through their changed mindsets of acceptance, cautiousness, and loss of confidence. Upon reflection of the experience, each participant offered his or her own understanding of how the situation could have been handled differently so that the hindering could have been a positive learning experience.

These findings reveal highly individualized adult learning experiences laden with the potential for powerful outcomes and changes to the learner‟s creativity and identity. The hindrance of creativity brought to the educational setting influenced the future manifestation of creativity by the adult learners. Implications for practice include professors recognizing their implicit assumptions, power, and influence in relation to the adult learner. Careful considerations are required by the professor when creativity is going to be hindered. Further research recommendations are also included.

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