Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Teaching Higher Order thinking

It's one thing for educators to teach to tests that offer learners certification that proves they've mastered key facts and concepts that panels of experts deem necessary for an 'educated' person to know.

It's another thing altogether to help learners exploit their native curiosity and continuously improve their higher order thinking so they are able to solve the endless stream of complex problems that everyday life delivers. It's true, as Tony Karreer says,
life is mostly an open book test.

For many years,
Bloom's Taxonomy has offered teachers and learners some useful distinctions that help break down complex tasks into structured learning experiences that allow people to build on their success.

The early taxonomy began with knowledge, understanding, and application as lower level skills and cast higher level skills as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.




However, getting learners engaged - and keeping them engaged - in the increasingly busy and 'noisy' information environment of the 21st century seems to be presenting new challenges.

In 2001, Anderson and Krathwohl adapted Bloom's model to fit the needs of today by employing more outcome-oriented language, workable objectives, and changing nouns to active verbs.


Most notably, knowledge was converted to remember. In addition, the highest level of development is now called create, rather than evaluate.





Recently, Barbara Clark (2007) provided an adaptation of Bloom's work to facilitate active learning.

This circle is called the Cognitive Taxonomy Circle:




I find Clark's tool useful when I need to respond to learners' needs directly, actively, and specifically. I use it to help me meet learners of all ages - and all abilities -
where they are in their personal inquiry, not where I am, or where I think they ought to be.

When I'm able to do this, engagement seems to take care of itself.

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Approach to teaching

Methods there are many, principles but few, methods often change, principles never do