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34 EDUCATION AND LEARNING TO THINK of appropriate evaluation strategies. Part of the problem is our penchant for testing. American pressures for standardized testing, especially at the elementary and secondary school levels, make it difficult for curriculum reforms that do not produce test score gains to survive. But most current tests favor students who have acquired Tots of factual knowledge and do little to assess either the coherence and utility of that knowledge or the students' ability to use it to reason, solve problems, and the like. To the extent that educators are motivated to produce high test scores, such tests can have the effect of suppressing efforts to expand higher order skill teaching. As interest in thinking and reasoning skills has increased, there has been growing effort to include thinking and reasoning in the batteries of tests given to students. Several states now have or will soon have such tests as part of their state competency testing programs. So far, however, these tests appear to be very limited vehicles for assessing or promoting the kinds of higher order thinking discussed here. They consist mostly of isolated items that test students' critical thinking and reasoning knowledge. But they do not provide the scope or the opportunity for students to carry out extended analyses, to solve open-ended problems, or to display command of complex relationships, although these abilities are at the heart of higher order competence. It seer likely that assessments of forms of thinking that we recognize to involve nuance, judgment, and weighing of alternatives rather than fixed answers will require techniques that themselves depend on judgment and that are open to alternative interpretations. THINNING IN THE CURRICULUM How can we summarize the evidence reviewed in the preceding section, and what does it suggest to educators wishing to improve their students' thinking abilities? It ~ clear that if we were to demand solid empirical evidence supporting a particular approach to higher order skit} development before implementing educational programs, we would be condemned at this time to inaction. There is far less empirical evidence of any kind available than we might have imagined and the evidence we have is often of limited utility. In most cases, the evidence amounts mainly to data showing that students who have taken particular courses are more likely to perform well on the tasks directly taught in the courses than students who have not taken those courses. Only a few studies have assessed the key
LAUREN B. RESNICK 35 question of generalization to other parts of the school curriculum or out-of-school performance. Although we cannot offer a "seal of approval" for any partic- ular approach, the cumulative evidence justifies cautious optimism for the venture as a whole. Thinking and problem-solving programs within the academic disciplines seem to meet their internal goals and perhaps even boost performance more generally. It seems possible to raise reading competence by a variety of methods, ranging from study skill training through the reciprocal teaching methods of Brown and Palincsar to the discussions of philosophical texts in Lipma~'s prm gram. On the other hand, general improvements in problem-solving, rhetoric, or other general thinking abilities have rarely been demon- strated, perhaps because few evaluators have included convincing assessments of these abilities in their studies. Most programs reviewed here represent efforts to improve think- ing skills through the addition of special courses or course units rather than through the modification of the mainline curriculum.* They thus offer a reasonable current estimate of how effective we can expect separate thinking and reasoning courses to be. As we have seen, although the available evidence does not establish that such courses can produce broad transfer of learning, neither does it allow us to strongly reject the separate course as an element in an edu- cational reform program aimed at improving higher order abilities in students. Based on present evidence, general course effectiveness seems to depend on the extent to which it is accompanied by parallel efforts across the curriculum. Embedding Thinking Skille m Academic Disciplines In this view, prudent educational practice should seek to em- bed efforts to teach cognitive skills into one or another preferably all~f the traclitional school disciplines, and it should do this ret gardless of what may also be done in the way of special courses in thinking or learning skills. This disciplin~embedded approach has several advantages. First, it provides a natural knowledge base axed environment in which to practice and develop higher order skills. As we have shown earlier, cognitive research has established the very *Some of the discipline-based problem-solving programs and some of the reading and self-monitoring programs represent important exceptions. The implications of these programs will be discussed further in subsequent sections.
36 ED UCATION AND LEARNING TO THINrK important role of knowledge In reasoning and thinking. One can- not reason in the abstract; one must reason about something. Each school discipline provides extensive reasoning and problem-solving material by incorporating problem-solving or critical thinking train- ing into the disciplines; the problem of "empty thinkings thinking about nothing is solved. As knowledge in the discipline develops, the base on which effective problem solving can operate is naturally available. Second, embedding higher order skill training within school dis- ciplines provides criteria for what constitutes good thinking and reasoning within the disciplinary tradition. Each discipline has char- acter~stic ways of reasoning, and a complete higher order education would seek to expose students to all of these. Reasoning and problem solving in the physical sciences, for example, are shaped by particu- lar combinations of inductive and deductive reasoning, by appeal to mathematical tests, and by an extensive body of agreed upon fact for which new theories must account. In the social sciences, good reasoning and problem solving are much more heavily influenced by traditions of rhetorical argument, of weighing alternatives, and of rebuilding a case" for a proposed solution. Mathematics insists on formal proofs a criterion absent In most other disciplines. Each style of reasoning (and several others that could be elaborated) is worth learning. However, only if higher order skills are taught within each discipline are they likely to be learned. Finally, teaching higher order skills within the disciplines will ensure that something worthwhile will have been learned even if wide transfer proves unattainable. This point is profoundly important. It amounts to saying that no special, separate brief for teaching higher orcler skills need be made. Rather, it proposes that if a subject matter is worth teaching in school it is worth teaching at a high level to everyone. A decision to pursue such an approach would transform the whole curriculum in fundamental ways. It would treat higher order skills development as the paramount goal of at! schooling. Paradoxically, then, dropping the quest for general skills might, in the end, be the most powerful means of cultivating generally higher levels of cognitive functioning. Saying that thinking skills should be incorporated into existing or planned disciplinary courses is by no means suggesting an easy path. We know less than we need to about how to do this job. Traditional formulations of the issue largely interfere with the kind of inventive educational thought and experimentation that will be needed to turn
LA UREN B. RESNICK 37 classes in mathematics, history, physics, or English into arenas for teaching thinking and reasoning abilities. For example, the classic distinction between knowledge as something one reasons about and skills as something one reasons with has, in practice, placed process skills and knowledge in competition for limited instructional time. The idea that certain forms of knowledge can be powerful tools for learning and problem solving, or that processes and procedures are an expression of principled knowledge, is something that scholars and educators can agree on but have not really found ways to act on. (See Bransford, in press, for a particularly perspicacious analysis of this problem.) Instead, we have had reactive pendulum swings of atten- tion either to process skills ("doing science, "doing history, etc.) or to building large bodies of knowledge. Research and experimentation focusing on how to truly combine these are badly needed. Higher Order Approaches to the Enabling Disciplines A particularly powerful way to begin transforming the school program is to concentrate on those parts of the traditional curricu- lum that enable learning and thinking in many fields. Reading is such an enabling discipline. So is writing, along with, perhaps, skills for effective oral communication. Mathematics is another candidate. Math is involved in many other disciplines, and skills of ~mathema- tization," that is, the construction of formal representations and arguments, could be broadly enabling. The Wars," then, come off rather well on this enabling criterion, although the reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic curriculum caller] for in this higher order perspective will look quite different from the traditional hickory stick curriculum. Furthermore, it seems appropriate to acid a Fourth R" reasoning- to our list of potential enabling disciplines. Let us consider each of these briefly. We have already discussed some current research that points to possibilities for changing the ways in which reading is taught. Thus far the research has shown mainly how very weak readers can be brought up to at least average performance levels. It ~ important to engage these students in meaning construction activities based on text in settings that incorporate modeling of good performance, lots of feedback, and opportunities to do small bits of the task in the context of seeing the whole job accomplished. However, we do not know for certain that these same methods are all that are needed to raise average performance levels to true high literacy levels. Finding
38 EDUCATION AND LEARNING TO THINK out what is needed to meet this goal is one important agenda for future research. Cognitive researchers about to embark on studies of this important topic would do well to examine the instruction in the high literacy academy tradition for strong hypotheses about the kinds of teaching likely to succeed. The school curriculum has neglected writing for some time. Its potential role as a cultivator and an enabler of higher order thinking is very great, especially if we consider writing as an occasion to think through arguments and to master forms of reasoning and persua- sion that are valued in various disciplines. Existing research clearly shows that children's and perhaps many teachers'-conceptions of writing do not match what both skilled writers and cognitive re- search on writing tell us about the process. Children, and unskilled writers generally, tend to view composition as a matter of writing down what they know; Scardamalia and Bereiter (1985) call this the "knowledge testings strategy of writing. Children are not aware of the role, or even of the existence, of the various discourse con- ventions and structures good writers use and readers expect (see Stein, 1986, for a review). Finally, they do not think of writing as a problem-solving process (cf. Flower and Hayes, 1980) in which plans must be made for communicating an organized point of view to an audience, and they do not understand that revision is integral to effective writing. Considerable research on the learning and teaching of writing is now underway, some of it focused on writing as a gen- eral too! for constructing and expressing arguments. Although the approaches being tried are extremely varied, most reflect a general point of view similar to the one underlying the successful approaches to teaching reading as a higher order skill. They treat writing as an intentional process, one in which the writer manages a variety of mental resources-linguistic knowledge, topical knowledge, knowI- edge of rhetorical forms, processes of attention and judgment to construct a message that will have a desired impact on a reader. We now need research that focuses explicitly on cultivating and assessing these broad skills of meaning construction and interpretation. As in the case of reading, examination of traditional instruction in rhetoric and related fields should provide a profitable point of departure. Mathematics must be discussed in somewhat different terms than reading and writing. It is not only an enabling skill, widely called on in a number of other disciplines, but also a discipline in its own right whose particular knowledge structures must be learned. Mathemat- ics also poses special problems, derived from its heavy dependence
LA UREN B. RESNICK 39 on formal notations. This has the effect of making it difficult for students to use their informal and intuitive knowledge of mathemat- ical concepts to support school mathematics learning and to advance their mathematical competence. As we noted earlier, good evidence suggests that much school mathematics learning proceeds as a matter of memorizing rules for formal symbol manipulation without much understanding of why the rules work as they do or what the symbols stand for. If education were concerned only with the calculation skills needed to Get bye in routine jobs and family obligations, this would not cause much concern. But a high literacy approach to mathemat- ics teaching cannot afford to let this separation between symbols and meaning, between calculation and mathematical reasoning, survive. Although many mathematics educators have sought ways of making particular concepts and procedures more understandable to children, to date no research has directly addressed the question of how ~ broad meaning-construction approach to mathematics learning can be pros moted among all students so that students themselves come to seek the connections between formal notations and their justifying con- cepts. This remains a major agenda for research leading to a higher order approach to mathematics teaching. Rezoning has never hac] an explicit place in the mass educa- tion curriculum. Philosophy has no regular position in the standard American high school curriculum, nor is reasoning specified as part of the elementary school syllabus in the way reading, writing, and math- ematics are. By contrast, both have been cornerstones of the elite, academy education tradition. Thus, incorporating reasoning into the regular educational program would extend the high literacy tradition to the entire school system. However, it is not clear whether reason- ing should be treated as a separate discipline or suffused through the curriculum. Most philosophers working within the informal logic movement want to see critical thinking or reasoning courses included in the curriculum. Their argument is partly practical: reasoning skills wall be passed over or trivialized if they are spread through the curriculum and not given formal recognition. But there is also a theoretical argument for treating reasoning as a separate enabling discipline; this ~ that principles of logical reasoning are unitary, not specific to particular domains of knowledge (see Paul, in press, re- sponding to a contrary argument by McPeck, 1981~. Currently, we have no empirical evidence to support the idea that teaching people to recognize and analyze reasoning fallacies a core element in most critical thinking and informal logic curricula in fact leads them to