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EDUCATION AND LEARNING TO THINK LAUREN B. RESNICK Co~r~rnittee on Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1987
National Academy Press 2101 Constitution Avenuc. NW Washington. OC 20418 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the author according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. - The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Frank Press is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Robert M. White is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Samuel O. Thier is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology _ ·., .~ . ~ ~ ~ ~ .1 - 1 1 1 ~ _ ~ L I_ ___ 1 with the Academy7s purposes of turther~ng knowledge and advising the ~ecleral government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medic ne Dr. Frank Press and Dr. Robert M White are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 87-43107 ISBN 0-309-03785-9 Fiat Printing, October 1987 Second Printing, January 1989 Third Printing, May 1989 Fourth Printing, November 1989 Fifth Printing, January 1991 Sixth Printing, July 1991 Seventh Printing, January 1992 Eighth Printing, July 1992 Printed in the United States of America
COMMITTEE ON RESEARCH IN MATHEMATICS, SCIENCE, AND TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION 1984-1986 JAMES G. MARCH (Chair), Stanford University (political science) ARNOLD B. ARONS, University of Washington (physics) W. O. BAKER, Bell Telephone Laboratories, Inc., retired (chemistry) MICHAEL COLE, University of California, San Diego (psychology) MARGARET B. DAVIS, University of Minnesota (biology) FREDERICK ERICKSON, University of Pennsylvania (anthropology) ROBERT GL`ASER, University of Pittsburgh (education, psychology) ANDREW M. GLEASON, Harvard University (mathematics) MICHAEL A. GUlLLEN, Harvard University (mathematical physics) JILL H. LARKIN, Carnegie-Mellon University (psychology and educational computing) CORA B. MARRETT, University of Wisconsin (sociology) SAMUEL 3. MESSICK, Educational Testing Service, Inc., Princeton, N.J. (psychometrics) PAUL E. PETERSON, Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C. (political science) MARE TAAGERERA, University of California, Irvine (chemistry) DAVID E. WILEY, Northwestern University (education) SENTA A. RAlZEN, Study Director ROLF K. BLANK, Research A ssociate . . . 111
Foreword The Committee on Research in Mathematics, Science, and Edu- cation was established in the Cornrnission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education of the National Research Council in 1984 in response to a request from the U.S. Department of Education. Its ini- tial tasks, for that department and the National Science Foundation, were to develop a set of research priorities and to consider the role of multidisciplinary research for science, mathematics, and technology education. That work resulted in two reports, Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education: A Research Agenda (National Academy Press, 1985) and Interdisciplinary Research in Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education (National Academy Press, 1987) . While preparing the first report, the committee became inter- ested in exploring in more depth two issues: how the school envi- ronment can be manipulated to maximize opportunities for children to succeed in learning science and mathematics, and how children learn reasoning and other complex thinking skills. Work on the first issue was carried out by Michael Cole, Peg Griffen, and their col- leagues at the Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition at the University of California at San Diego; their monograph Contextual Factors in Education: Improving Science and Mathematics Edluca- tion for Minorities and Women was published by and is available from the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, Madison, Wis- consin. Work on the second issue was undertaken by Lauren Resnick at the Learning Research and Development Center of the University of Pittsburgh and resulted in this special monograph. Carnegie Cor- poration of New York is generously supporting the distribution of both volumes. v
Preface This paper addresses the question of what American schools can do to more effectively teach what have come to be called Higher order skins." Unlike most National Research Council documents, it is not so much a report as the result of extended reflection upon a set of questions raised by and about the nation's educational system. This reflection has received the guidance and critique of a splendid working group of psychologists, educators, computer scientists, and philosophers: Carl Bereiter, Department of Applied Cognitive Science, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education John Bransford, Department of Psychology and Director, Learning Technology Center, Vanderbilt University Ann L. Brown, Center for the Study of Reading, University of Blmois Jerome S. Bruner, Department of Psychology, New School for Social Research Susan Carey, Department of Psychology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology AlIan CoBins, Bolt Beranek and Newman, Inc., Cambridge, Mass. Robert H. Ennis, College of Education, University of Illinois David Perkins, Graduate School of Education, Harvard UniversitY and Roger Schank, Department of Computer Science, Yale University. The working group exchanged written statements and partici- pated in a two-day meeting in Washington, D.C., in the fall of 1984, during which the issues raised in the written statements were dis- cussed at length. Members of the group also provided guidance in ·- V11
· . . V111 PREFA CE finding and interpreting information relevar~t to its concerns. Most important, members of the working group responded to drafts of this paper; these responses have been of great value in shaping the final version. However, what follows ~ not a group report, but a personal distillation of the working group's wisdom and advice. It should be read and used with that understanding. Several individuals in addition to members of the working group have been generous with their time and ideas. ~ would like to mention two in particular, Carol Dweck of the University of Illinois and Mark Lepper of Stanford University. Thanks are also due to the many who sent materiab about their own ant! others' work on the teaching of higher order skins and who were willing to talk with me and, in many cases, to comment on an early draft of this paper. A list of the individual who responded to requests for information and ideas appears in the appendix. Finally, special thanks are due to Senta Razzed, study director of the Committee on Research in Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education, for her organization of the initial working group and overall management of the project. Not least among her contributions was securing support for this effort from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, whose contribution ~ hereby thankfully acknowledged. LAUREN RESNICK Learning Research and Development Center University of Pittsburgh
Contents INTRODUCTION HIGHER ORDER SKILLS: A WORKING DEFINITION AND A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE 2 THE NATURE OF THINKING AND LEARNING GOING BEYOND THE ROUTINE....... Reading as a Higher Order Skill, 8 Meaning Construction in Mathematics, 12 GENERAL REASONING: IMPROVING INTELLIGENCE... Past Research, 16 Current Programs for Teaching Higher Order Skills, 19 Problem Solving in the Disciplines, 20 General Problem-Solving Skills, 21 Reading and Study Strategies, 23 Self-Monitor~ng Skills, 25 Components of Intelligence, 27 Informal Logic and Critical Thinking, 30 Problems of Assessment: Some General Cornrnents, 32 ...15 THINKING IN THE CURRICULUM 34 Embedding Thinking Skills In Academic Disciplines, 35 Higher Order Approaches to the Enabling Disciplines, 37 CULTIVATING THE DISPOSITION TO HIGHER ORDER THINKING SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS What Are Higher Order Skills?, 44 Can Higher Order Thinking Be Directly Taught?, 46 How Should Instruction in Higher Order Thinking Be Organized?, 48 REFERENCES APPENDIX L'C 40 ....... 44 ... 51 ..59