Curiosity, Creativity & Critical Thinking

Modified Excerpt from the BrightBytes Clarity Data Analytics Platform – 21st Century Learning Report prepared for Farmington Area Public Schools:

Contemporary learning requires educational institutions to facilitate the continued skill development in the areas of curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking. The skills needed for success in college and career are becoming increasingly complex, and schools must rise to meet new demands.

New academic standards and accountability measures across the nation have broadened the classroom experiences required for proficiency. As expectations rise, students encounter challenges in keeping up. This trend is evidenced by falling preliminary assessment scores across the nation. Traditional instruction and assessments may be to blame. In their recent investigation of 21st Century Learning, National Academies Press found that rote learning does not support the educational transfer necessary to tackle the complex problems demanded by intensified academic standards. Students must be exposed to unfamiliar problems and encouraged to design meaningful solutions. Technology is one tool for such problem solving. A national Walden University study reports that teachers who use technology frequently place the highest emphasis on problem solving.

In addition to meeting traditional academic standards, students must also be prepared to tackle the demands of a modern world and modern workforce. According to a report from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills: “Many of the fastest-growing jobs and emerging industries rely on workers’ creative capacity - the ability to think unconventionally, question the herd, imagine new scenarios, and produce astonishing work.” Technology assists with this type of capability. Pew reports that 76% of Advanced Placement and National Writing Project teachers believe that digital tools such as the Internet, social media, and cell phones “encourage student creativity and personal expression.” In addition, the National Writing Project reports that the creation and consumption of multimedia increases the likelihood of deeper learning and longer skill retention.

Technology can be a key factor towards leveraging instruction that impacts student learning outcomes. Students must have regular opportunities to engage in learning activities that foster communication and collaboration skill but also further the development of critical thinking, curiosity and creativity. Being aware of the classroom setting, creative resources available, and the typical learning experiences afforded to students in your organization is the first step towards the cultivation of these essential skills.


The following domains from the Clarity CASE survey were included for the dashboard:

  • Classroom - 4Cs – Teacher Critical Thinking, Student Critical Thinking & Elementary Student Critical Thinking
  • Classroom - 4Cs – Teacher Creativity, Student Creativity & Elementary Student Creativity
  • Clarity Custom Questions – Engagement & Curiosity

Supporting Documentation:
2020 Clarity Survey and Custom Questions – Related Question Results