Aarhus University Seal

Interdisciplinary Bachelor Course on Play, Learning and Creativity

About the course

It is widely assumed that play facilitates learning and stimulates creative thought and behavior in a range of different ways. Yet, historically, play and creativity have been difficult entities both to define and to approach with various forms of rigorous methodology. Throughout the course, we will attempt to understand why humans and a narrow selection of other highly intelligent social species play; e.g. what forms play take across times, places, and ages, and consider the effects play may have e.g. on learning and creativity. The course mainly focuses on literature on play, learning and creativity from multiple disciplines such as biology, psychology, and anthropology, but also contains a multidisciplinary introduction to a range of different research methodologies, e.g. psychological lab - and field based experiments, participant observation, and interviews.

Available content

How we play and learn together: The educational perspective


Outline of the week: Week 7 is intended as an introductory session to how creativity and play-based learning have been conceptualised in formal learning environments. During the class, we will discuss how the course content so far relates to and affects education and we will gain an overview of educational approaches that have in cooperated play in some way or another (e.g. Reggio Children, Opal School, Pedagogy of Play). In this, we will focus on the ways in which play has been operationalised and understood in the different educational contexts.

The readings will provide a first introduction into the complexities of integrating play into school. Mardell et al (2016) (i.e. Pedagogy of Play) will hereby serve as a case study for how play has been conceptualized in a holistic pedagogy.

Preparation for Class: 
In order to prepare for class, please revisit your notes on Bonawitz et al (2011) and Schulz et al (2007 and read the literature assigned for this week. Additionally, please produce a postcard (addressed to your fellow classmates) in which you describe a playful experience that you had in your childhood that involved an adult in some way. Of course, you can include an image, photo or illustration representing some relevant aspect of your playful moment. We will share these postcards in the beginning of the class to nurture our discussion.


Outline of the week: During this week, we will consider learning through play in both informal and formal learning environments, and discuss the complexities that both settings inherently hold. We will address intervention-based and translational research, and spend some time exploring how games have entered the modern-day classroom and what the construct gamification has to do with play. In this, we will explore behaviourism and constructivism to ground our understanding in a broader context.