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Korean students outperform OECD peers in creative thinking

June 18, 2024 - 17:57 By Choi Jeong-yoon
(Getty Images)

South Korean students showed a high level of creative thinking, outperforming on tests that compare the capability of generating original ideas among 15-year-olds around the world, a survey showed Tuesday.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development released the Program for International Student Assessment results Tuesday, in which South Korea ranked first to third among 28 OECD countries and second to fourth among 64 countries in "creative thinking."

PISA is a study of 15-year-old students’ mathematics, reading and science literacy performance conducted by the OECD. Typically conducted every three years, this year’s assessment for 2022 comes a year later due to the pandemic.

This year's assessment agenda included creative thinking capabilities, followed by global competency in 2018 and problem-solving ability based on cooperation in 2015. The innovation domain focuses on finding a more comprehensive outlook on their students' readiness for life.

Creative thinking refers to the cognitive processes required to engage in creative work, as well as the capability to generate and improve ideas that can lead to original and effective problem-solving skills and imagination that can be influential, the Education Ministry explained Tuesday.

South Korea scored an average of 38 out of 60 points, five points over the OECD average. About 90 percent of Korean students scored at the basic level of level three or above, and about 46 percent scored at the higher achievement level, which is considered level five or above.

In particular, the achievement level disparity between students in the same school and between schools was lower than the OECD average. The impact of economic, social and cultural background on creative thinking scores was also lower than the OECD average, indicating that parents' occupation, education and wealth had a relatively small impact on Korean students' creative thinking achievement.

However, Korean students had a low score on the creative thinking self-efficacy index, which refers to students' confidence in performing tasks that require creative thinking.

Korean students meanwhile scored high in an index that assesses how students perceive that they participate in creative activities at school. They also scored high in the creative school environment index, which tests how a student perceives the school and classroom environment to be conducive to creative thinking.