Centre for Educational Research and Innovation - CERI

Teaching, assessing and learning creative and critical thinking skills in primary and secondary education


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Project Motivation

There is a growing consensus that formal education should cultivate the creativity and critical thinking skills of students to help them succeed in modern, globalised economies based on knowledge and innovation. However, teachers’ (and countries’) ability to foster and monitor progress is limited by the lack of understanding of how some of these skills materialise at different development stages. One reason why these competences are not promoted in a systematic way is that education systems have rarely established ways to assess them formally. Another, related reason is that, beyond an agreement on the broad objective, it is not clear how these skills can be visibly and tangibly articulated by teachers, students and policy makers, especially as part of the curriculum.
With this project, the OECD Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) aims to further develop and refine our understanding of how creative and critical thinking skills can be assessed in an educational setting.


List of participating countries in primary and secondary education : 

Brazil, France, Hungary, India, Netherlands, Slovak Republic, Spain, Thailand, United States, and United Kingdom (Wales) 


The project "Teaching, assessing and learning creative and critical thinking skills in education" has two different strands. The first strand focuses on fostering creativity and critical thinking in primary & secondary education (project from 2015 to 2019) and the second strand looks at creativity and critical thinking skills in higher education (project from 2019 – 2022).




  • Take stock of how countries or institutions explicitly assess creative and critical thinking skills (when they do so), or some aspects of them;
  • Prototype and pilot an assessment tool that will help teachers and students monitor their acquisition, and articulate a language that appears easily understandable and usable internationally; 
  • Produce a set of pedagogical activities and exemplars of student work describing what students at different levels of mastery of these skills could do and thus give concrete examples of progression (or standards) in these skills;
  • Provide a platform for knowledge exchange on practices and ideas around the fostering and assessment of creative and critical thinking skills.

Beyond a contribution to the improvement of international knowledge and understanding on these issues, participation in the study will allow countries to explore domestically how they can monitor the implementation of a skills-based curriculum and incentivise both teachers and students to develop the creative and critical thinking skills that will nurture innovation in their society. 
The first phase of the project in primary and secondary education will be finalised end of 2018, with the completion of a pedagogical toolkit comprised of an international rubric to assess creativity and critical thinking, pedagogical activities, assessments and examples of student work. The project will also produce an international report analysing the effects of the pedagogies using the prototyped rubric and activities to develop creative and critical thinking skills.
The conceptual framework developed in the project may contribute to the development of a possible module on creativity for PISA 2021. The project is aligned with the long-standing interest of the PISA Governing Board in in higher order skills and the plan to expand the learning outcomes that PISA assesses internationally.


In primary and secondary education, the project is a controlled pedagogical intervention that will engage research teams and school networks in 15 countries. The school network within each country will be split into intervention and control groups. The project will work with students at two levels: in primary education, with students aged 8-9; in secondary education, with students aged 12-13. In terms of disciplinary areas, the project will focus on two areas: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects, on the one hand, and arts education (either visual arts or music), on the other, but will also leave room to interdisciplinary or project-based approaches. 
Besides feedback from the iterative refinement of the assessment tool and pedagogical activities, the project will use a pre- and post-design to collect a range of contextual data that will serve to better understand and interpret findings, including potential differences between countries. Instruments for the contextual data collection include subject-specific standardised assessment tests, background questionnaires, and the Evaluation du Potentiel Créatif des élèves (EPoC), a standardised assessment tool for creativity.



Publications and reading materials


Project outputs

  • Comics - illustrating creativity, critical thinking and its teaching
  • Videos about creativity and critical thinking in education


NEW! The beta version of the OECD CERI creativity and critical thinking app is now available!


The app brings together the pedagogical resources developed in the primary and secondary phase of the project with the aim of supporting changes in teaching and learning.

Please register as a teacher to ensure you have access to all resources (whatever your status).




Related projects


Request for proposals

The CERI project team on Teaching, Learning and Assessing Creative and Critical Thinking Skills is looking for some partnerships to expand its bank of pedagogical resources and collaboration within countries, as well as make the objectives and instruments it developed more visible. Here below a call for proposals that summarises the types of support and partnerships it would welcome in 2023-24.


More info here.




Stéphan Vincent-Lancrin
Senior Analyst, Project Leader and Deputy Head of Division
[email protected]
Phone: 33-1 45 24 92 29



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