Higher Order Thinking Skills

There is lots of talk around this so here you go… a document with lots of information and resource material. Click here to learn more or read a brief excerpt below.


Higher order thinking skills are grounded in lower order skills such as discriminations, simple application and analysis, and cognitive strategies and linked to prior knowledge of subject matter content (vocabulary, procedural knowledge, and reasoning patterns). Appropriate teaching strategies and learning environments facilitate the growth of higher order thinking ability as do student persistence, self-monitoring, and open-minded, flexible attitudes.

In higher order thinking, the path is not clear in advance, nor readily visible from any single vantage point. The process involves interpretation about uncertainty using multiple and sometimes conflicting criteria. It often yields multiple solutions, with self-regulation of thinking, to impose meaning and find structure in disorder (Clarke, 1990). However, the higher order thinking process and its value are best described by Lewis and Smith (1993).

Higher order thinking occurs when a person takes new information and information stored in memory and interrelates and/or rearranges and extends this information to achieve a purpose or find possible answers in perplexing situations. A variety of purposes can be achieved through higher order thinking . . . deciding what to believe; deciding what to do; creating a new idea, a new object, or an artistic expression; making a prediction; and solving a nonroutine problem. (p. 136)



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