Centre for Educational Research and Innovation - CERI

Fostering and assessing students' creative and critical thinking skills in higher education


Project Objectives

Creativity and critical thinking are key skills for the complex and globalized economies and societies of the 21st century. There is a growing consensus that higher education systems and institutions should cultivate these skills with their students. However, too little is known about what this means for everyday teaching and assessment practices.
This project at the OECD Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) aims to support higher education institutions to innovate in their teaching and nurture students’ creative and critical thinking. The project builds an international community of practice around teaching, learning and assessing creativity and critical thinking. It seeks to identify the key contextual factors and effective approaches to foster these skills in higher education settings, develop and implement exemplary instructional practices and assess the effects of innovative pedagogies on students and faculty members.


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About 26 higher education institutions from 14 countries joined the project. Participant institutions work with professors and instructors to change their courses and assessments with the intent of developing students’ creativity and critical thinking along with disciplinary content and skills. This redesign of courses relies on a shared definition of creativity and critical thinking made visible through a common international rubric. Beyond this common goal, institutions and their faculty preserve full pedagogical freedom. The project encompasses several domains and disciplines, including teacher education, medical and health sciences, engineering, psychology, natural sciences, architecture, economics, and environmental studies.

The OECD developed a comprehensive monitoring system to assess the impact of the project using both quantitative and qualitative data. This includes online questionnaires administered to students and faculty members at several stages of the project. Questionnaires were designed to measure progression of a series of skills, beliefs and attitudes. These are also administered to faculty and students in control groups to provide means for comparison and better appraise the outcomes of the pedagogical changes. Qualitative reporting based on interviews, focus groups and class observations, complement quantitative data collection to provide evidence of the effects of the different pedagogies tested.

Collaboration with faculty members started in 2019 with the development and implementation of faculty professional learning workshops and the (re)design of courses and assessments. The implementation of new courses in classrooms and amphitheatres will take place in 2020 and 2021.

Outlook and Outcomes

The findings of the project will be published in an international report in 2022. The monitoring instruments developed for the evaluation of the impacts of the project will also be made public. The pedagogical resources (rubrics, redesigned courses, assessments, faculty professional learning plans, etc.) will be shared under a Creative Commons licence so that they can inspire faculty and institutions internationally.

Beyond contributing to the common good of teaching excellence in higher education, participating institutions develop their innovation and improvement capacity in teaching and learning thanks to their involvement in an international network of like-minded institutions. Ultimately, the project aims to trigger a sustainable improvement process in teaching and learning in higher education and beyond.


International meetings


The project call for participation

Related links

  • Project "Teaching, assessing and learning creative and critical thinking skills in education in primary and secondary education"; find more information here


*** Creativity and Critical Thinking App coming soon! ***

Participating institutions

  1. Monash University - Australia                            
  2. Ontario Tech University - Canada
  3. McGill University - Canada
  4. University College Copenhagen - Denmark
  5. Aalto University - Finland
  6. NISE (University of Limerick + Mary Immaculate College) - Ireland
  7. Politecnico di Torino - Italy
  8. Sophia University - Japan
  9. International Christian University - Japan
  10. KEDI (national coordinator) - Korea
  11. Universidad de Guadalajara - Mexico
  12. Universidad Pedagogica Nacional - Mexico
  13. Shanghai Normal University - People's Republic of China
  14. Northeast Normal University - People's Republic of China
  15. Central China Normal University - People's Republic of China
  16. Escola Superior de Saude de Santa Maria - Portugal
  17. Escola Superior de Tecnologia e Gestão - Instituto Politécnico de Viana do Castelo - Portugal 
  18. Tecnico Lisboa (Lisbon University) - Portugal
  19. Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias - Portugal
  20. University of Porto - Portugal
  21. Universidade de Aveiro - Portugal
  22. Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro - Portugal
  23. Politecnico de Leiria - Portugal 
  24. National Research University Higher School of Economics - Russian Federation
  25. Universidad Camilo Jose Cela - Spain
  26. University of Winchester - United Kingdom


Coordidnated by the OECD Innovation Strategy for Education and Training Team






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