Deo Saurabh, Researcher, Aalto University 

Key Questions: 
Why should you care about creativity and critical thinking (CCT) skills? 
Can anyone learn CCT skills irrespective of their background or field of study?
Creativity and Critical Thinking (CCT) Skills
Creativity and critical thinking are two different aspects of the same process. These two skills allow people to think intelligently and outside the box. Creativity helps people see things differently and generate new ideas or solutions. Critical thinking allows people to evaluate information based on facts, logic, and evidence rather than simply accepting what they are told.   Creativity refers to the ability of an individual to produce novel solutions. This skill is often used by entrepreneurs and inventors who wish to distinguish their products or services from others on the market.   

Critical thinking, in turn, is required when a person experiences a problem or issue but is uncertain how to tackle it, thus forcing them to think clearly to formulate a solution. Critical thinking is an umbrella term rather than a single skill. It often involves the use or demonstration of six primary skills: Self-assessment, Analysis, Inference, Interpretation, Evaluation, and Explanation, also known by the acronym ‘SAIIEE’. Self-assessment focuses on an individual’s ability to think rationally about their own point of view, while analysis and evaluation refer to carefully understanding the situation and circumstances and weighing alternative solutions to evaluate the best approach. Inference and interpretation involve identifying available and missing information and recognizing its impact on the problem being tackled. Finally, explanations require that any information be described as clearly and rationally as possible so that it is easily understandable.   

Significance of creativity and critical thinking skills
Well! Creativity and critical thinking are important for many reasons. They help us solve problems, think outside the box, and develop new and innovative ideas. They also help us communicate better, understand others’ points of view, and see the world differently. According to several international organizations, such as Linked, the World Economic Forum, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the skills most sought by employers around the world are creativity and critical thinking skills.  CCT skills take years to develop and require a strong educational ecosystem that can develop these skills from the beginning of a student’s education.   

In the modern age of industrial revolution 4.0, industries deal with ambiguous problems with undefined boundaries and unclear expectations from their customers; it becomes the responsibility of the employee to tackle that uncertainty by critically thinking about all the parameters and developing innovative solutions. Leading organizations such as the World Economic Forum, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, and Deloitte consistently emphasize the significance of creativity and critical thinking skills in the modern workforce. These skills are becoming increasingly in demand, as they enable individuals to generate innovative ideas, analyse information, and make sound decisions. In today’s rapidly changing and complex world, creativity and critical thinking are essential for individuals and organizations to adapt and thrive.   

Impact of the Finnish ecosystem on developing world-leading products and services: 
Numerous examples demonstrate how Finnish inventions have changed the world. For instance, in 1991, when Linus Torvalds, a Finnish inventor, was still a computer science student, he developed his own PC operating system and made it freely and widely available, setting the stage for the open-source software LINUX. Today, Linux is widely used, and it is likely that a Linux-powered machine sent you to this website. The penguin tux that serves as Linux’s logo is easily recognizable.  

The Finnish company Rovio Entertainment created the popular video game Angry Birds, which was released in 2009. The game was dubbed “one of the most popular games out there right now”, “one of the great runaway hits of 2010”, and “the biggest mobile app success the world has seen so far.” Its popularity has encouraged the lucrative creation of merchandise, television cartoons, and even feature films.  

In 1977, the Finnish company Polar Electro first introduced heart rate monitors, which are devices fastened to an athlete’s body to record their heart rate. Furthermore, these monitors were the first wearable wireless technology product to be manufactured. The original monitor was fixed to the wearer’s fingertip and ran on batteries.  

Nokia, a company that is not just a pioneer in mobile phone technology but also a leading innovator in 5G technology, is a household name, and it would be hard to find a person who has not heard of it. The Finnish city of Espoo, home to several such innovative organizations as well as Aalto University, was one of the six winners of the European Capital of Innovation (iCapital) Award 2019 – a feat that it repeated in 2020.   
The Finnish education system – support and CCT Skills
 There are many reasons why the Finnish higher education system is known to be the best in the world. One reason is that the Finnish education system is extremely inclusive, and students of all backgrounds and abilities are able to succeed. In Finland’s higher education system, creativity and critical thinking are highly valued and integrated into the curriculum. Finnish universities offer programmes and courses that challenge students to think outside the box, solve complex problems, and make informed decisions. The emphasis is on hands-on, project-based learning that encourages students to apply their knowledge and develop their creative and critical thinking skills. Additionally, Finnish universities provide a supportive and inclusive environment that fosters creativity and encourages students to think independently. By prioritizing creativity and critical thinking in higher education, Finland is preparing its students for success in today’s fast-paced and innovative job market.  

There are many essential elements of an ecosystem that promotes CCT skills. However, some of the most important elements that a student experiences are:  

Promotion of Creativity:

1. Encouraging students to think outside the box: This is achieved in a number of ways, including problem-based learning, design thinking, and other creative approaches to learning.  
2. Providing opportunities for creative expression: This is achieved through arts-based courses, creative writing courses, and other outlets for students to express themselves creatively.  
3. Fostering a culture of innovation: This is achieved by promoting entrepreneurship, encouraging students to take risks, and supporting creativity in all aspects of university life.  
4. Encouraging collaboration: This is accomplished through team-based learning, project-based learning, and providing students with ample opportunities to work with industry partners, such as Nokia, Qualcomm, Microsoft, KONE, ABB, and Google.  
5. Valuing diversity: A fifth essential element for promoting creativity skills in higher education is the high value placed on diversity. This can be achieved by promoting a diversity of perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences in the university community. Students engage with global audiences throughout their higher education, allowing them to expand their understanding of diversity.   

Promotion of Critical Thinking: 

1. Encouraging students to question assumptions and think critically about problem statements or given design tasks during different industry-sponsored projects, such as the Product Development Project (PDP) at Aalto Design Factory  
2. Teaching students to identify and assess evidence from prototypes, models, and scientific practices, etc.   
3. Helping students develop and practise analytical and problem-solving skills through hands-on project work during courses  
4. Encouraging students to reflect on their own thinking process and learn from their mistakes through several focused workshops or best practices such as an ‘I like I wish’ session. ( 
5. Providing opportunities for students to discuss and debate ideas with their peers and understand why their idea may or may not be the ideal solution. Students are given the opportunity to participate in one-on-one sessions with industry mentors who share their valuable insights to help the student understand the strengths and opportunities of their ideas from an industry standpoint   

CCT Skills Across Multiple Disciplines
Whether you are a student interested in arts, science, technology, engineering or management, there are immeasurable opportunities for students willing to pursue higher education in Finland to develop their CCT skills so that they meet the demands of industry.    

At Aalto University, the schools of arts and engineering collaborate to run a course titled Zero Gravity. On this course, students explore the fundamental principles of a kinematic structure and identify several creative approaches to its actuation, developing a unique project demonstrating a perfect blend of arts and engineering.

Last modified: Wednesday, 29 March 2023, 3:45 PM