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A Beginner’s Guide to Critical and Creative Thinking

Learn the skills needed to improve both decision-making and problem solving, using critical and creative thinking.

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Develop your creative and critical thinking skills with New Scientist

Critical thinking and creativity are key skills needed to improve decision-making, whether in a personal context or in the workplace.

This three-week course will help sharpen your ability to analyse information and increase your capacity to problem solve creatively.

Learn from experts in cognitive science and creative problem solving

Guided by Dr Denise Cummins, Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, and Professor Gerard Puccio from Buffalo State, you’ll explore various models of thinking in different contexts.

With this knowledge, you’ll be able to approach problems more logically, rationally, scientifically, and creatively.

Refine your decision-making process using logical and rational thinking

There are a variety of cognitive biases that can hinder decision-making.

On this course, you’ll examine them in detail, as well as learning to recognise red herrings, false dichotomies, ad hominem attacks, and motivated reasoning.

With this knowledge, you’ll be able to spot flaws and fallacies in others’ arguments and avoid biases in your own thinking. This will strengthen your own arguments and help justify your decisions.

Explore critical and creative problem solving techniques

By strengthening both your analytical reasoning and your creative thinking, you’ll have the tools necessary to solve problems in any situation.

You’ll bring together your critical and creative thinking skills to analyse the differences between convergent and divergent thinking and apply them appropriately.

By the end of this course, you’ll have learned key models of creative and critical thinking, as well as the factors that can impact decisions. Having learned how to combine creative and critical thinking, you’ll be able to supercharge brainstorming sessions and problem solving tasks.


  • Week 1

    Introducing critical and creative thinking

    • Welcome to the course

      Welcome to 'A Beginner's Guide to Critical and Creative Thinking'.

    • Why critical and creative thinking matters

      In this activity, we explore why critical and creative thinking matters.

    • Three pillars of critical thinking

      In this activity we outline our three pillars of critical thinking and explore the dual process theory of System 1 and System 2 thinking and how our mindware can interfere with these systems to undermine our critical thinking.

    • Critical thinking: How to think logically

      In this activity, we will cover ways to improve your logical thinking.

    • Bringing it all together

      You've reached the end of Week 1 – it's now time to bring it all together with a short quiz and a chance to reflect on what you have learned so far.

  • Week 2

    Critical thinking: How to think rationally and scientifically

    • Critical thinking: How to think rationally

      Welcome to Week 2. We start the week by exploring various techniques to think more rationally.

    • Critical Thinking: How to think scientifically

      In this activity, we explore how to think scientifically.

    • Bringing it all together

      You've reached the end of Week 2 – it's now time to bring it all together with a short quiz and a chance to reflect on what you have learned so far.

  • Week 3

    How to think creatively

    • Developing our innate creativity

      Welcome to Week 3. We start the week by taking a look at how creativity is not only innate, but can also be developed.

    • Cognitive rigidity and the creative cliff illusion

      In this activity we look at cognitive rigidity, a barrier we must overcome to fulfil and maintain our creative potential, along with the creative cliff illusion

    • Strategies for creative thinking

      In this activity we explore key strategies to help with creative thinking - divergent and convergent thinking, and thinking in analogies.

    • Creative Problem Solving: The Thinking Skills Model

      In this activity we work through Gerard Puccio's Thinking Skills Model which offers a step-by-step path to more original ideas to help problem solving.

    • Bringing it all together

      You've reached the end of Week 3 and the course! It's now time to bring it all together with an end of course quiz, a chance to reflect on what you have learned during the course and find out about further learning opportunities.

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Evaluate an argument's validity
  • Identify the most common logical fallacies, and techniques that can be used to avoid falling for them
  • Describe how common cognitive biases can derail the decision-making process
  • Assess risk and uncertainty
  • Apply convergent and divergent thinking to improve creative thinking
  • Explain the power of analogical reasoning in creative problem solving

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for learners at all levels with an interest in evaluating information and increasing their capacity for creative thinking.

It is particularly useful for professionals who want to improve their problem solving and decision-making in the workplace.

Who will you learn with?

Head of Learning Experience, New Scientist

Who developed the course?

New Scientist

New Scientist is the world’s most popular weekly science and technology publication. Our website, app and print editions cover international news from a scientific standpoint, and ask the big-picture questions about life, the universe and what it means to be human.

New Scientist Academy

New Scientist Academy brings together the trusted editorial expertise from the world’s greatest science magazine, New Scientist, and brilliant world-class scientists to pass on their knowledge and passion, taking you on a mind-expanding journey of discovery around the hottest topics in science.

What's included?

This is a premium course. These courses are designed for professionals from specific industries looking to learn with a smaller group of like-minded individuals.

  • Unlimited access to this course
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes
  • Certificate of Achievement to prove your success when you're eligible
  • Download and print your Certificate of Achievement anytime

Still want to know more? Check out our FAQs

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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