Empirical research on creativity in mathematics (education): from the wastelands of psychology to the current state of the art

Roza Leikin, Bharath Sriraman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this special issue we introduce the state of the art of empirical studies on creativity in mathematics and mathematics education. To do so we conducted a retrospective analysis of empirical studies on mathematical creativity with special attention to the studies conducted during the last decade. In the paper we present a brief survey of research on mathematical creativity up to 2009 and then a detailed review of empirical studies performed during the past decade. We note an optimistic development of attention paid to mathematical creativity in schools. A systematic search conducted to examine research on creativity in mathematics education journals and research in the field of mathematics in creativity-related journals, yielded 49 papers that described empirical studies on creativity in mathematics education. The retrospective analysis examined the following: (a) the main goals of the studies; (b) conceptual frameworks used by the researchers; (c) research methodologies; and (d) tools and tasks. Of these, 18 studies examined the relationships between creativity in mathematics and other characteristics, 25 were on creativity related to instructional practices and mathematical tasks, and 6 studies investigated teachers’ creativity-related conceptions and competencies. Of these studies, 29 used quantitative methodologies, 10 of which integrated analysis for problem solving or problem posing strategies or outcomes. Ten additional studies employed qualitative methodology (mainly content analysis of lesson observations). We conclude the paper with a short review of papers in this special issue, and outline directions for future research on creativity in mathematics (education).

Original languageEnglish
JournalZDM - International Journal on Mathematics Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, FIZ Karlsruhe.


  • Big C creativity
  • Creativity research
  • Jacques Hadamard
  • Mathematical creativity
  • Mathematics education
  • Quantitative and qualitative research
  • Research methodologies
  • Retrospective analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Mathematics


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