PublicationsTopic index of systematic reviewsKnowledge pagesThinking skills
Thinking skills
This page contains the findings of systematic reviews undertaken by review groups linked to the EPPI Centre

Impact on students
Impact on teachers


Click here for a knowledge page on the use of ICT in the assessment of creative and critical thinking skills.

Impact on students

  • There is evidence of a positive impact on pupils' attainment in both curriculum and non-curriculum measures.[1],[2] Non-curriculum measures reported on are reasoning and problem-solving [1] and cognitive measures such as Raven's Progressive Matrices [2].
  • There is some evidence that pupils can apply or translate this learning to other contexts.[1]
  • Where there is either no or little immediate impact on curriculum measures, such improvement may appear later or increase over time.[1]
  • There is some evidence that thinking skills programmes may vary according to subject.  One review found relatively greater impact on tests of mathematics and science, compared with reading.[2]
  • The impact of thinking skills approaches may not be even across all groups of pupils. There is some evidence that there may be greater impact on low-attaining pupils, particularly when using metacognitive strategies.[1]
  • There is some evidence that pupils benefit from explicit training in the use of thinking skills strategies and approaches.[1]
  • Some of the benefits of thinking skills programmes and approaches derive from making thinking and reasoning explicit through a pedagogical emphasis on classroom talk and interaction.[1]
  • The role of the teacher is important in thinking skills programmes and approaches in establishing collaborative group work, effective patterns of talk and in eliciting pupils' responses.[1]

Impact on teachers

The following key areas were found to be significant:[3]

  • Changes in pedagogical practice, including: teacher questioning; grouping of pupils; changes in planning and assessment
  • Changes in attitudes towards pupils, including: perception of pupil ability; facilitation of greater pupil responsibility and autonomy; access to pupil learning
  • Implications for professional development, including: practical tools being necessary; collaborative CPD (continuing professional development) being preferable; and partnership with researchers as co-inquirers and critical friends being beneficial.


1. Thinking skills approaches to effective teaching and learning: what is the evidence for impact on learners? (2004)

2. A meta-analysis of the impact of the implementation of thinking skills approaches on pupils (2005)

3. The impact of the implementation of thinking skills programmes and approaches on teachers (2005)

Copyright 2019 Social Science Research Unit, UCL Institute of Education :: Privacy Statement :: Terms Of Use :: Site Map :: Login
Home::About::Projects::Training::Research Use::Resources::Databases::Blog::Publications