The National Forum was recently represented by Dr Claire McAvinia and Dr Roisin Donnelly for roundtable discussions at the OECD event, ‘Fostering 21st Century Skills in Higher Education’. This two-day event was organised on 12-13 January as part of the CERI project “Teaching, Learning and Assessing Creativity and Critical Thinking in Education”.
The event brought policymakers and representatives of higher education institutions together to facilitate dialogue and articulate public policies and institutional practices in supporting the development of students’ 21st-century skills in higher education.
Dr Claire McAvinia (TU Dublin), who recently completed a secondment to the National Forum as an Educational Developer, represented the National Forum for the session ‘Approaches to 21st Century Skills in Europe and North America: How can governments help institutions and teachers in fostering students?’.
Preliminary findings from the OECD project on creativity and critical thinking show that a lack of time is one of the biggest challenges to introducing innovation in a classroom. Dr McAvinia discussed Ireland’s approach to opening the discussion around valuing teaching and valuing the development of teaching specifically through the VIT&L and Next Steps initiatives but also through longer-term funding supports for projects and initiatives to innovate in teaching, learning and assessment. Dr McAvinia further added the ‘National Professional Development Framework for all staff who teach’ and opencourses.ie as examples of supports for teachers integrating the development of 21st-century skills into their classroom practice.
Dr Roisin Donnelly (TU Dublin) also recently completed a secondment to the National Forum, where she was sectoral project manager on the initial implementation of the Professional Development Framework, and represented the National Forum during the closed summary meeting for OECD delegates and project network members. Dr Donnelly explained the benefits of having a national body for teaching and learning and how the National Forum supports higher education institutions and teachers through its nationally agreed priority areas, highlighting a consultative approach and collaboration as crucial to fostering an enhancement culture and cross-system approaches.
Through the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) project, the OECD aims to further develop and refine our understanding of how creative and critical thinking skills can be assessed in an educational setting. The findings of the project will be published in an international report in 2022. The OECD, founded in 1961, is a group of 38 member countries that discuss and develop economic and social policy.