Teaching Creative Problem Solving – new research

The Bett Show is the largest education technology conference in Europe with close to 35,000 attendees. It was held this week in London and Adobe used this platform to launch its most recent study titled Creative Problem Solving in Schools: Essential Skills Today’s Students Need for Jobs in Tomorrow’s Age of Automation.


In this study, Adobe surveyed 2,000 educators, policymakers and influencers (K12 & Higher Ed) from the U.K., Japan, Germany and the U.S., with a focus on how the people shaping education and students’ experiences view creative problem solving as a critical skillset.


One of the motivations behind this research came from the World Economic Forum’s predictions about which skills will be required to thrive in the future. Consistently, the number one predicted required skill set is complex problem solving. This was predicted to be the case for 2015 and was again the number one prediction for 2020. Interestingly, creativity was the tenth most required skill predicted by 2015 and jumped up to number three for 2020.


Top 10 skills will be required to thrive in 2020 and beyond.


Definition of creative problem solving

Creative problem solving was defined in the Adobe study as the process of redefining problems and opportunities, coming up with new, innovative responses and solutions, and then taking action.

The importance of teaching creative problem solving for student’s job prospects

The educators, policy makers and influensers surveyed by Adobe were asked to share their opinions on how important it is for students to learn creative problem solving skills in school. 97% of the educators and 96% of the policy makers agreed that it was important.


Globally, 74% of educators and 76% of policy makers agreed that professions that that require creative problem solving are less likely to be impacted by automation in the future.


86% of educators and 85% of policy makers agreed that students who excel at creative problem solving will have higher-earning future job opportunities. 85% of educators and 84% of policy makers agreed that creative problem solving skills are in high demand by today’s employers for senior level and higher paying careers.


Sub-skills connecting to creative problem solving

A range of sub-skills connected with creative problem solving were presented to the participants to be rated in terms of their importance to be learned at school. Independent learning was globally rated the highest, closely followed by learning through success and failure & working with diverse teams.

The most important sub-skills related to creative problem solving across K12 & Higher Education were identified as:

  • Independent learning 67%
  • Learning through success and failure 61%
  • Working with diverse teams 60%
  • Self-expression and dialogue 57%
  • Persistence, grit and entrepreneurial spirit 55%
  • Excepting challenges and taking risks 55%
  • Conflict management and argumentation 52%
  • Innovative thinking 48%

However, when asked how much of an emphasis there is on each of the above skills in school curricula today, the results are low across the board.


When asked if there was enough emphasis on creative problem solving in today’s curricula, 69% of the educators said no as did 61% of the policy makers and influencers.

When asked to comment, a German policy maker said, In schools today there are tasks, but no value is placed on creative solutions – only the fact that the tasks are executed correctly. Creative problem solving and more independent work would have to be integrated into the curriculum for all subjects this stage.

A policy maker from Japan said, The specifics of individual curriculum do not allow space for the integration of creative problem-solving.

85% of educators and 80% of policy makers & influencers agree that creative problem solving does not frequently play a role in schools. This was most evident in Japan with 90% + of the participants agreeing and less of factor in the US with an average of 75% of participants agreeing.

Globally, 80% of educators and 67% of policymakers agreed that teaching problem-solving should be integrated across all courses with only 20% of teachers and 33% of policy makers and influencers says that be a dedicated course focused on teaching creative problem-solving.


Why are schools not focusing on teaching creative problem solving?

So what is preventing creative problem solving from being integrated effectively into the curricula? The biggest barrier appears to be time, with 79% of the participants saying they have a lack of time to create. The second biggest barrier is a lack of training (77%) followed by a lake of software resources in classrooms (73%) and in student’s homes (73%).

Standardised testing is also seen as a barrier to nurturing creative problem solving according to 72% of the participants. An educators from the US reflected … with standardised testing … that most primary and secondary schools … are legally bound to, it doesn’t leave time or freedom for new teachers that are being taught innovative learning strategies to incorporate them into the classroom.

A German Higher Education teachers said … today’s courses are more orientated towards standardise knowledge that can be tested … this teaching leaves less room for developing creative solutions.

A UK secondary educator made this comment … policies are too restricted in what they ask teachers to teach … it is harder for us to build well rounded students.

A UK Higher Education teachers refleceted that … cuts in funding have made nurturing creativity in students worse. There is also a larger amount of material the students need to learn for the exams than ever before, so that tutors spend time on teaching cert facts.

There is a consensus that we need to both reform curricula and find ways to integrate creative problem-solving into today’s classrooms. Globally, 89% of educators and 87% of policy makers and influencers agree that we need to find ways to better integrate creative problem-solving into existing school curricula. 87% of educators and 88% of policy makers and influencers believe we need to find ways to reform the current curriculum to better nurture creative problem-solving in the classroom.

How Adobe can help?

Educators believe that technologies like those found in the Adobes Creative Cloud suite of software can help students develop creative problem-solving skills inside and outside of the classroom.


An educator from the UK commented that … Adobe provides industry relevant applications which allow students to build relevant skills. In the classroom, this allows them to make and learn from mistakes, as well as come up with solutions to achieve outcomes.

A Japanese educators said … in an exercise using Adobe Creative Cloud, each individual student is asked to report their analysis vision, analytical method, data analysis, etc. And thoroughly discussed with the faculty to clarify the problem and develop a creative viewpoint.

Educators that encourage their students to use Adobe Creative Cloud software say that creative problem-solving often plays a role in school curriculum and their students are more prepared for the future workforce.


Educators believe Adobe creative cloud software could help students develop all the most important creative problem-solving skills.


Educators are highly interested in education offerings and support from Adobe, especially free lesson plans and case studies. A list of different offerings from Adobe who are rated by participants in the survey. 74% were interested in projects and lessons for educators to implement using Adobe creative cloud software. 72% where interested in case studies on how to use Adobe creative cloud software draw school subjects.


The main conclusion from this study is that creative problem-solving skills are essential for today’s students to learn while they are in K12 and higher education to help prepare them for their future jobs in tomorrow’s age of computerisation and automation. And encouraging teachers and students to use creativity and productivity software such as is found within the Adobe Creative Cloud to communicate and construct learning is a great way to encourage creative problem solving.

More findings, information about this new study and a wide range of infographics can be found via http://cps.adobeeducate.com/

Free Professional Learning opportunities for Educators – Semester 1, 2018


To all educators interested in enhancing their (and their student’s) digital literacy, communication & creativity skills – check out these coming free online & face to face professional learning opportunities from Adobe Education …

Online opportunities:

click the links to find out more and register
Digital Imaging for Educators – 5 week EdEx course starting Feb 5
• 30min Live Event – Video editing with Premiere Pro for beginners Feb 6, 7PM
• 30min Live Event – Making Photoshop puppets come alive with Adobe Character Animator Feb 8, 7PM
Podcasting in the Classroom – 2 week course starting Feb 12
• 30min Live Event – Advanced Video Editing with Adobe Premiere Pro Feb 22, 7PM
Digital Collages in the Classroom – 2 week course starting March 5
Graphics and Illustration for Educators – 5 week course starting March 12
Animating Characters in the Classroom – 2 week course starting March 19
• 30min Live Event – Teaching Mathematics through Animation March 27, 7PM
Train the Trainer – 8 week course starting April 16
Product Prototypes in the Classroom – 2 week course starting April 16

Click here for a live & updated overview of all Adobe in Education Professional Learning events


Face to Face opportunities:

click the links to find out more and register





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