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Creativity – how to assess and foster this key skill for the 21st century

Creativity  is  a  vital skill  for  progress  in  knowledge  societies  and  innovation-driven economies
Creativity is a vital skill for progress in knowledge societies and innovation-driven economies
Jan 13 2021

Recent studies and practice show that creativity is increasingly relevant and valuable in all disciplines and occupations.

While attempts to teach and assess it are plentiful, in 2020 creativity was still not taught or otherwise fostered systematically in most countries in Europe.  

In 2022, Creative Thinking will be the focus of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

Methodology and main findings

In this context, the JRC conducted a study aiming to establish an overview of existing concepts and practices for the development, assessment and learning of creativity as a transversal skill for lifelong learning.

The main conclusion of the study is that creativity needs a clear and comprehensive definition linked with learning outcomes, tried-and-tested pedagogies and educator support help to turn the goal of developing creativity into practice.

The study recommends an assessment of how creativity can be made visible in all key competence frameworks, explicitly present and valued in the curricula of all countries, and informally understood and adopted in all branches of lifelong learning.

For this study, a qualitative approach has been used - based on literature review (analysis of 175 articles and books and 59 frameworks), on an inventory of 34 initiatives, on eight case studies, and four validation events.

Why is creativity relevant?

According to the study, there is an agreement among researchers, employers and teachers that creativity involves novel or original thinking and the generation of value, and its main 'building blocks' are imagination, curiosity, the production of novelty and value (according to context), persistence, critical thinking and collaboration.

Fostering creativity is a means to address real-world problems, and almost always, it feeds into broader goals, for example, employability, educational, company innovation, or personal development.

How is creativity learned, fostered and taught?

According to the study, creativity is currently considered a transversal, competence-based skill that can be taught manifesting differently among individuals and environments, and being included in broader educational goals.

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to teaching and learning creativity, the most popular techniques mimic the real world, using problem-based, game-based, experiential, and project-based tools, and focus on the creative process rather than the outcome.

Among the factors identified by the study as contributors to the success of creativity development as a transversal skill are: political support and buy-in at different levels, explicit attention to creativity, robust methodologies, and provision of educator support.