Higher Order Thinking Skills

In today’s world, the students are expected to develop higher order thinking skills apart from basic numeracy and literacy. Higher order thinking skills (HOTs) apply in two contexts; solving real life problems and aiding the learning process (Margaret, 2004). These skills can be defined  in terms of transfer of knowledge, critical thinking and problem solving. Transfer of knowledge encompasses conceptualization of content learnt while critical thinking involves reasoning and interrogation. Problem solving on the other hand, means the ability to design a path to achieve a specific target (Susan, 2010). However, these skills vary according to the developmental level. Therefore, this essay provides a observational checklist for assessing primary grade student higher order thinking abilities. 

Many educators and educational systems use the Bloom classification to order thinking skills. Bloom proposed six levels of cognitive learning targets namely knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and creation or evaluation. The higher order thinking skills encompass the top three skills. These include analysis or breaking down of information, synthesis or  grouping of information and evaluation meaning making judgement about the information. Other aspects include  metacognitive, creative and logical thinking.. These skills are complemented by lower level thinking abilities (King, Ludwika and Faranak). For the purposes of assessing HOTs among primary school students, information processing, enquiry, reasoning, creative thinking and evaluation will be used as a checklist. On information processing, getting, organizing and presenting information will be checked. Asking relevant questions will test enquiry while coming up with ideas and desining solution will asses creative thinking. In addition, augurements, providing reasons and making inferences will check reasoning  while making judgement about information will test evaluation skills.

In order to evaluate the HOTs, the teacher must first define the objectives and then select the mode of assessment. This may be in the form of a multiple choice, essay or structured questions. The student should not be aware of the task to be tested to make it valid,. Finally the test should have the following components; comparison, distinguishing and classifying the elements. Supported induction, making generalizations and conclusions, construction support, backing arguments., investigation, defining elements and their characteristics. System analysis, explaining how things work and the consequences. Problem solving, how to overcome challenges and identify conditions, experimental inquiry, variables to be observed and invention or suggestion on what improvements are to be made.  

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