A study regarding learning and innovation skills (4Cs) in a Portuguese higher education institution

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Doctoral education is the pinnacle of the education system but is also the link between the education system and the research area. To work, as a researcher, in a 21st -century society, learning and innovation skills, like critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication are important. In Portuguese law to have a PhD degree, is necessary that students among others must have scientific skills, critical thinking, and communications skills. Creativity and collaboration skills are not mentioned. But these skills are very important as scientific research usually occurs in research teams where collaboration and cooperation are crucial to concretize the research project. Also, creativity is important once it can drive to new areas of knowledge or new solutions to the research problem. In this context, it is important to know what PhD students fill about these four skills that are among the 21st-century skills. This research work is a study
case, with the characteristics of quantitative research, which aims to perceive the doctoral students’ perception regarding critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication (understanding and development). The data were collected, through a questionnaire applied in Jun 2022, via institutional email to the Population of the Science and technology school at NOVA Lisbon university. This survey was based on others, already published, but adapted to the Doctoral population. Among other things, it captured the students’ perception regarding their trust in their capabilities regarding critical thinking, collaboration, communication skills, and creativity. The meaning of creativity, how to develop it, regarding doctoral supervision practices, research environments, and development were explored, and PhD students’ perceptions were collected. Data analysis revealed that students are very confident regarding their ability to use critical thinking (77%), work collaboratively (84%), communicate with peers or with society (81%), and be creative (73%). Considering the supervision practice (and teaching practice at this level) that promotes them, there is a lower agreement regarding it. The meaning of creativity that emerges in this research implies thinking out of the box, seeing the world in different ways/perspectives, creating new things/concepts/ideas, and making unusual connections between things/concepts/ideas. The personal characteristic associated with creativity is curiosity. In the view of doctoral students, the practices that promote the development of creativity are to participate in seminars/ debates or cycles of
study (80%), followed by research work in a research group (79%). It is possible with the research results to conclude that these four important skills are being developed and deepened in doctoral education at this institution.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEducation and New Developments 2023
Subtitle of host publicationVolume 1
EditorsMafalda Carmo
Place of PublicationLisbon
PublisherInScience Press
Number of pages5
ISBN (Print)978-989-35106-3-6
Publication statusPublished - 2023
EventInternacional Conference on Education and New Developments - Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: 24 Jun 202326 Jun 2023
Conference number: 2023

Publication series

NameEducation and New Developments
PublisherInScience Press
ISSN (Print)2184-044X
ISSN (Electronic)2184-1489


ConferenceInternacional Conference on Education and New Developments
Abbreviated titleEND 2023
Internet address


  • Doctoral education
  • critical thinking
  • creativity
  • collaboration
  • communication


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