Photo by Dev Benjamin on Unsplash

Creative thinking: 5 tips for teachers and educators to make creative thinking part of their topic-based lessons

What is creative thinking? What should teachers and educators do to make creative thinking part of their topic-based lessons?

Nowadays, when working in education and training environments, the word “creativity” is often associated with something that is necessary to develop higher-order thinking skills. Teachers, educators and trainers are asked to include creative thinking if they want to deliver relevant lessons for their students and, more importantly, if they want to ensure their engagement during the learning process.

What you don’t know is that creativity is already part of your teaching, without being aware of it! Every time you design and plan a lesson finding a way to engage your students to participate actively and take action, you are using creativity in your classroom.


But, in which way this can produce relevant results for your students?

Let’s start from the beginning. 

There isn’t a common and shared definition about creativity. Some experts consider creativity focusing on cognition (creative thinking), others emphasise the importance of taking action, and, in this way, addressing real-world challenges.

Moreover, creativity appears in many different nuances as an ability, attitude, attribute, capability, capacity, character, cognitive, non-cognitive, life, meta, soft, transversal or twenty-first-century skill, core, key or knowledge.

There is a growing consensus that fostering creativity helps learners develop the skills associated with it, such as imagination, curiosity, the production of novelty and value, persistence, critical thinking and, almost always, collaboration. 

That’s why creativity can’t be missed in your daily work in class.

From our experience, there are some tips you can follow to feel familiar with and to promote creativity in your classroom.

1.Link to the Learning Outcomes

Before thinking about your lesson, make sure you have already defined the Learning Outcomes (LOs) that your students are expected to achieve. We can’t arrange any activity without a clear reference to the specific competencies, skills and knowledge to be acquired by students.

Often, the initiatives focus on the creative process rather than the outcome. This will cause serious difficulties when you are going to assess students’ learning regarding creative thinking.

You should define LOs as a statement of what a learner is expected to know, understand, or be able to do at the end of a learning process. 

Linking the activity to the LOs is extremely important to teachers and educators as it helps to identify, manage and assess creative thinking in students’ learning process.

2. Be informed

As you know pedagogical approaches used so far are very different from each other. This variety depends on context, resources, teachers’ proficiency, target group and more important, on LOs you want to achieve.

The most popular ones help create learning environments that reproduce the real world and include problem-based, game-based, experiential, and project-based learning. 

Specific examples of approaches and methods employed are tinkering, five habits of mind, design thinking and collaborative challenge-based learning and so on.

Take your time to explore the topic through case studies, research, publications. Get inspired about projects or initiatives experienced around you, and why not, subscribe to training courses. The opportunities to get up-to-date knowledge are many and varied!

3. Work in a team

Considering the transversal dimension of creativity applied in teaching and learning settings, you may find useful to interact and discuss your work with your colleagues. Some subjects could be combined together into one activity in which creativity is not a goal in itself, but a means to address real-life problems, employability, or personal development.

The benefits of promoting an interdisciplinary approach for both teachers and students are well known. Don’t be afraid to try a new way!

4. Test with your students

You have developed a methodology, identifying Learning Outcomes, resources needed, the team, and the activities to be implemented. Great! Now, all that’s left is to test. Why? The methodology you want to propose is the right one but it may not work with your students. 

Testing is different from assessing. Testing is a measuring tool. We can use a test, an examination, or a quiz to challenge the student’s ability or knowledge and to collect feedback to improve teaching methodology. 

As we all know, changes are possible, and in many cases necessary, in order to adapt your theory to the actual development of the lessons.

5. Make your students part of the process

If you really want to assess your students and make it an active part of their own learning, promoting autonomy, they have to know, from the very beginning, about the assessment, the criteria you want to use, as well as about the examinations if there are going to be some.

You can find a variety of assessment tools, but to make the process more relevant for your students, don’t forget the following suggestions:

-Make the evaluation and marking criteria clear to your students. You can make them part of the process, for example creating grids or checklists together.

-Introduce peer evaluation and self-assessment.

-Be prepared to adapt your planning when necessary.


About this, lately, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) has decided to make Creative Thinking the focus of its 2021 assessment (OECD, 2019) which confirms that creativity can be reliably assessed. If you want to know more about creativity, here you find a recent report published by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Commission’s science and knowledge service.

For the next Erasmus+ call we are working on these topics. If you want to be our partner or have a proposal to be developed, get in touch.

Contact us