Higher order thinking
Russell Tytler, March 28, 2004There is a lot of focus currently on the notion of higher order thinking, particularlyin relation to the Middle Years concerns, focusing on engaging students inmeaningful learning. Terms such as the ‘Thinking Curriculum’ are used todescribe a school focus on deeper level ideas. Higher order thinking is used as aterm to describe a number of related ideas, all essentially held to be in contrast torote learning, learning of facts, superficial thinking etc. Schemes such Bloom’staxonomy have been used to order knowledge forms in a hierarchy, withinformation at the bottom (Bloom called it ‘knowledge’ but the term tends to havea wider meaning these days), then comprehension, then higher levels such asapplication, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. The ‘three tiered intellect’ usessimilar terms, with higher order thinking being associated with words such asinterprets, analyses, reflects, evaluates….Also associated with higher level thinking are dimensions of creativity, or divergent thinking. Emphasising, in science tasks, such things as creativity,imagination, flexibility all aim at developing in students a capacity to think throughideas and apply them to a range of contexts, to think ‘outside the square’ and tothink critically.Higher level thinking is also associated with investigative practices in science,and with problem solving. Such behaviours and knowledge as askinginvestigable questions, designing investigations or measurement procedures,critically evaluating evidence, thinking of ways to test ideas etc. are all part of what we would hope an engaged and resourceful student to be doing.The first two SIS Components of effective teaching and learning are closelyrelated to higher level thinking. These are given below, with links to the scienceeducation literature.
1. Encouraging students to actively engage with ideas and evidence
Component 1 is a key characteristic of effective teaching and learning. It is linkedwith a number of important ideas that appear in the science education researchliterature, and in curriculum and innovation change projects.
The key idea embodied in this Component is that real learning is an active process that involves students being challenged, and challenging each other,rather than accepting received wisdom and practicing its application
. Apredominant image projected by this Component is thus one of the active,searching mind. The underlying logic of this Component is consistent withconstructivist insights into