Occupational Therapy Program Student Theses, Dissertations and Capstones

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Occupational Therapy

Copyright Statement

All rights reserved. This publication is intended for use solely by faculty, students, and staff of Nova Southeastern University. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, now known or later developed, including but not limited to photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author or the publisher.


College of Health Care Sciences – Occupational Therapy Department

First Advisor

Wendy Stav

Second Advisor

Sarah Blaylock

Third Advisor

Diane Parham

Publication Date / Copyright Date



Nova Southeastern University


Previous research has demonstrated the benefits of childhood play and creativity in childhood from either a qualitative or quantitative perspective; yet, questions remain regarding the predictive power of childhood play, specifically what types of toys facilitate competencies such as creative potential in adulthood. Utilizing a mixed methods convergent parallel design, the aim of this research was to explore the relationship between the types of toys frequently used during childhood and adult creative potential. Additionally, utilizing adults’ retrospective play stories, the study sought to understand the contribution of play to human development by identifying how qualitative themes ofchildhood play experiences aligned with the concepts from the Framework of Doing-Being-Becoming-Belonging (Wilcock, 2006; Wilcock & Hocking, 2015).

The quantitative strand consisted of a global sample of 972 participants, aged 23-74, who completed the researcher-developed Retrospective Childhood Play Inventory to gather information regarding a participant’s preferred toy use during childhood, as well as the Runco Ideational Behavior Scale: Short Form to measure creative potential. Results indicated that although every participant possessed varying ranges ofcreative potential, there was no conclusive evidence that the types of toys used during childhood had a significant relationship or prediction on creative potential in adulthood. Based on a post-priori framework, the qualitative strand was conducted utilizing 116 adult retrospective playstories from existing data from The Strong National Museum of Play’s America at Play: Play Stories Video Archive. The data demonstrated the meaningful influences of childhood play in a person’s adult life. These findings led to a deeper understanding of the link between childhoodplay and a person’s lived experiences and identity development in adulthood through the two themes that emerged: the kaleidoscope of playand the continuity of play across the lifespan. Thus, the mixed methods approached demonstrated the complexity involved in studying the links between childhood play and creative potential in adulthood and the difficulty in measuring these constructs via quantitative means alone.

The integration of both quantitative and qualitative data demonstrated that, regardless of age, what people played with, how they played with the toys or objects, whom they played with, where and when the play occurred, and the meaning infused and derived from play, all contributed to aperson’s evolution into an occupational being in adulthood. Strong recommendations are made for occupational therapy and occupational science to influence development through play and through the facilitation of creative potential for the enhancement of health, well-being, and development across the lifespan for individuals, communities, and populations.


Occupational Therapy


Creative potential, Creativity, Mixed methods, Play, Toys