By Aakriti Kalra
Consultant, OECD Directorate for Education and Skills
Innovation, at its core, involves adapting current methods in order to improve them, or to achieve something new. For teachers, this means continuously adapting and reinventing their teaching approaches in order to meet the ever-changing needs of their students. More broadly, innovation in education encompasses the actions and conditions that help deliver what is today defined as a quality education – one that includes a wide range of knowledge, skills, attitudes and habits that will prepare today’s students to be tomorrow’s citizens.
How teachers and schools innovate is a key area of enquiry in the latest cycle of the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS). Established in 2008, TALIS is the first major international survey of teachers and school leaders on their working conditions and the learning environments in their schools. When it comes to innovation, policy makers across the 48 TALIS participating countries and economies are interested in measuring two key components: the presence of innovation in classrooms and the conditions that enable teachers and schools to innovate in their teaching and learning processes. Innovation therefore intersects with ongoing TALIS research themes such as teaching practices, teachers’ attitudes, professional development and self-efficacy.
To measure the extent of innovation, TALIS relies on teachers’ self-reports of how frequently they use classroom practices that could be considered innovative. These include assigning tasks that require students to think critically, having them work in small groups to come up with a joint solution, and letting them use information and communication technologies (ICT) for projects, among others. These activities fall under the umbrella of “cognitive activation” and “enhanced activities” in the TALIS 2018 teacher questionnaire, as they allow students to build cross-curricular skills such as collaboration and critical thinking. To measure the enabling conditions for innovation, TALIS provides a rich set of information on openness to change (among both teachers and organisations), professional supports that can help teachers use innovative practices, and teachers’ sense of preparedness in these areas.
When new TALIS results are released in June, they will provide unique insights into innovation in education by focusing on the people who drive innovation every day – teachers and school principals.