…is risk-taking, playfulness, using your imagination and intuition; the opposite is being ‘rule-bound’.


This dimension is about using my imagination and intuition when I learn, being playful and ‘dreaming’ new ideas, having hunches, letting answers come to me, rather than just ‘racking my brains’ or looking things up. It’s about going ‘off the track’ and exploring ideas and coming up with unexpected and often better solutions.

Those with a lot of Creativity understand that learning is often about surprise, wonder and inspiration, not simply about sticking to rules and routines, doing as you were told or following instructions.

Without creativity, learning is confined to what someone can achieve using logic and reasoning, or may be limited by doing what they have always done, or by instructions and procedures imposed on them.

Effective learners are able to look at things in different ways and imagine new possibilities. They like playing with ideas and taking different perspectives, even when they don’t quite know where their trains of thought are leading. They are more receptive to hunches and inklings that bubble up in their minds and make more use of imagination, visual imagery, pictures and diagrams in their learning. They understand that learning often needs playfulness as well as purposeful, systematic thinking. They believe in the possibility of ‘dreaming something up’.

The contrast pole is literalness or rule-boundedness. Less effective learners tend to be unimaginative. They prefer clear-cut information and tried-and-tested ways of looking at things and they feel safer when they know exactly how they are meant to proceed. They function well in routine problem-solving situations, but can feel a bit lost when there is less certainty about a problem or method and greater creativity is required.

  • Explores possibilities and enjoys novelty and uncertainty
  • Uses intuition and creative imagination
  • Plays with ideas and concepts
  • Willing to let go of control and feels safe enough to take risks
  • Sees ‘mistakes’ as opportunities for learning
  • Allows the mind to ‘float and dream’ at times and ‘sleeps on’ questions or problems

  • Practise thinking ‘outside the box’ rather than sticking to the way you have always thought about a problem or challenge.
  • Try guessing at solutions before working them out; see how good your guess was
  • Visualise characters and situations in which the concepts, ideas and facts in your learning become real for you: such as by describing your customer’s point of view or picturing your audience in advance
  • Use visual representation: colour, pictures, diagrams, symbols, imagery, ‘emoticons’ to illustrate your points, not just text
  • Make mind-maps with labels or draw ‘trees’ with ‘meaning branches’ to show how possibilities multiply when you think about alternative scenarios
  • Use a different approach to present your work: e.g. a stream of consciousness, diary, cartoon, news article; try a storyboard with illustrations, to explain the topic to someone less experienced
  • Think about the processes and procedures you tend to follow in your work and see if you can break away from them constructively by doing things differently
  • Let your mind ‘float free’ when you are stuck or puzzled; see if your ‘dreams’ or imagination come up with a way forward, allowing yourself time to consider new and different options
  • Trust your subconscious mind as much as you do your thinking ability: notice how you sometimes come up with an answer or see something thing more clearly by ‘sleeping on it’.