The way in which contemporary skills are developed and knowledge is constructed requires our students to think in complex, multidimensional, flexible and adaptive ways (Crawford, 2017). Education researchers, policy makers and leaders in private enterprise agree that students in the 21st Century need to develop particular skills such as, the ability to think in flexible and innovative ways to equip them for a modern world of work and lifelong learning (Barak & Levenberg, 2016; Hughes, 2018; Runco, 2002). The critical and creative general capability in the current Victorian curriculum acknowledges that students should be able to respond “effectively to environmental, social and economic challenges” and that this “requires young people to be creative, innovative, enterprising and adaptable, with the motivation, confidence and skills to use critical and creative thinking purposefully” (VCAA, 2019). Therefore, it is important that teachers develop students’ explicit attention to and application of creative and critical thinking skills that will enable them to “develop an increasingly sophisticated understanding of the processes they can employ whenever they encounter both the familiar and unfamiliar, to break ineffective habits and build on successful ones, building a capacity to manage their thinking” (VCAA, 2019). The Australian Curriculum and the recently implemented Victorian Curriculum outlines the critical and creative thinking skills that a learner needs to develop as they progress through school (ACARA, 2018; VCAA, 2018) and states this as a priority that should be sequentially embedded in and through the curriculum. Further to this, the national Australian Professional Standards for Teachers requires teachers at all levels to demonstrate the use of teaching strategies to develop students’ “knowledge, skills, problem solving and critical and creative thinking” (AITSL, 2017). However, how teachers are expected to do this has not been made clear. Therefore, this project will contribute to this critical professional knowledge by addressing three primary aims:
• To identify and implement teaching and learning strategies and classroom practices that will develop student metacognition and enhance collaborative learning through enacting the critical and creative thinking curriculum (general capability).
• To increase teachers’ professional efficacy in the explicit teaching of thinking skills, including metacognitive processes and collaborative learning.
• To identify how technology can enhance the teaching and learning of the critical and creative thinking curriculum.
These aims can be achieved by increasing student engagement and improving learning outcomes through the development of teacher instructional practice in building metacognitive strategies in students and enhance collaborative learning (two of the High Impact Teaching Strategies [HITS] outlined in the DET Victoria Framework for Improving Student Outcomes [FISO], 2018). Addressing these aims will provide further evidence of how current government initiatives such as FISO and HITS are being understood and practiced in schools. There is substantial work to be done in the area of understanding how to enact and teach the critical and creative curriculum. Currently, little guidance is provided in quite broad and vague curriculum statements that leave teachers puzzled about how one element can complement the other (Crawford, 2018; Padget, 2012). This often results in creativity being implemented poorly, if at all. Therefore, it is anticipated that this research will add to the discourse around the teaching and learning of the critical and creative curriculum and in particular, advance teacher practice and professional knowledge. As the school that the project will be conducted in is technologically driven, an important focus will be to investigate how technology can be utilised to enhance the teaching and learning of creativity and critical thinking.