Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.
44 EDUCATION AND LEARNING TO THINK self-management (of study time, of types of elaboration, of ways of at- tacking tasks) will be better able to compensate for self-attributions of low initial ability. A key question, of course, is whether these differences in type of motivation or theory of intelligence can be deliberately shaped by the way in which school activity is organized. Evidence suggests that the nature of the environment in which one works makes a difference in whether one invokes internal or external motivations for one's work. However, research has not examined whether personal traits favoring internal motivation can be developed by deliberately altering institutional or social patterns. Very recent work by Dweck and her colleagues is examining ways of helping students to acquire and apply incremental conceptions of intelligence, but more extensive research is required before clear conclusions can be drawn. In any case, these lines of motivation research highlight the possibilities for an important convergence between efforts aimed at teaching higher order cognitive skills and those aimed at cultivating dispositions to apply those skills. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS What Axe Higher Order Skills? Higher order thinking is difficult to Seine but easy to recognize when it OCCUF8. Higher order thinking involves a cluster of elaborative mental activities requiring nuanced judgment and analysis of complex situa- tions according to multiple criteria. Higher order thinking is effortfu! and depends on self-regulation. The path of action or correct answers are not fully specified in advance. The thinker's task is to construct meaning and impose structure on situations rather than to expect to find them already apparent. Higher order thinking has always been a major goat of elite educational institutions. The current challenge is to find ways to teach higher order thinking within institutions committed" to educating the entire population. In its origins, the mass educational system was concerned with routine competencies such as simple computation, reading familiar
LA UREN B. RESNICK 45 and predictable texts, and acquiring well-defined vocational compe- tencies. It was not considered necessary or possible for all students to learn to interpret complex texts, write extended arguments, or develop original solutions to problems. However, changing economic and social conditions are now creating a demand for these abilities in all citizens, and schools are seeking ways to cultivate thinking skills in all students. No educational system has ever been built on the assumption that everyone, not just an elite, can become a compe- tent thinker. We must view this new challenge as an invitation to inventive and very demanding educational reform. Higher order thinking is the hallmark of successful learning at all levels not only the more advanced. The challenge to reform comes at a time when cognitive re- search provides an important reconceptualization of the nature of thinking and learning that can inform and guide educational work. The most important single message of this body of research is that complex thinking processes elaborating the given material, making inferences beyond what is explicitly presented, building adequate representations, analyzing and constructing relationships- are in- volved in even the most apparently elementary mental activities. Children cannot understand what they read without making infer- ences and using information that goes beyond what is written in the text. They cannot become good writers without engaging in com- plex problem-solving-like processes. Basic mathematics will not be effectively learned if children only try to memorize rules for mania ulating written numerical symbols. All of this implies that "basic" and "higher order" skills cannot be clearly separated. Good thinking depends on specific knowledge, but many aspects of powerful thinking are shared across disciplines and situations. A central issue, both for educational practice and for research that can guide that practice, is whether thinking and learning abil- ities are general-that is, applicable in all cloma~ns of thinking-or specific to a particular domain. The evidence shows clearly that thinking is driven by and supported by knowledge, in the form of both specific facts and organizing principles. This knowledge, to- gether with the automated recognition and performance that come
46 ED UCATION AND LEARNING TO THINK with extended practice, allows experts in any field to engage in more sophisticated thinking than people new to the field. At the same time, many aspects of thinking are shared across fields of expertise. These include a wide range of oral and written communication skills, mathematization and representational abilities, principles of reason- ing, and skins of argument construction and evaluation. These can be thought of as "enabling skilIsn for learning and thinking. Generally speaking, people rely on powerful but only narrowly applicable think- ing methods in domains in which they are expert and use broadly applicable but weak methods for learning and thinking in fields they know little about. Good thinkers need both the powerful but specific and the general but weak kinds of skills. Can Higher Order Thinking Be Directly Taught? Elements of thinking are clearly teachable. The programs reviewed here show that many components of thinking can be effectively taught. That is, there is evidence that the particular performances taught in the programs are in fact learned by students. The kinds of components that have been successfully taught include generating multiple ideas and alternative viewpoints on a particular topic, generating summaries, skimming, figuring out word meanings from context, solving analogies and logical puzzles, and detecting logical reasoning fallacies. However, an integrated ability to learn, think, and reason and a broad disposition to engage in higher order thinking are not necessarily ensured by acquiring particular components of thinking. We need direct assessments of the kinds of complex reason- ing and problem-solving skills that constitute higher order thinking. Most evaluations have not maple such assessments. They have re- lied instead on assessments of particular elements that are taught or on "indicator" tests~3uch as I or SAT scores-that are nor- mally correlated with successful learning and thinking. However, under changed instruction and learning conditions, these traditional indicators may no longer be valid. Thus, we have less evidence than would be desirable, and less than the proliferation of programs would
LA UREN B. RESN~ICK 47 suggest, on whether and how thinking abilities that are integrated and usable can actually be cultivated. Only a few programs provide convincing evidence that broadly applicable and integrated abilities have been acquired. In the most convincing cases, improvements due to instruction have been demonstrated for reading comprehension, general grade averages, and essay writing. Some programs also demonstrate im- proved problem-solving or laboratory performance in specific dis- ciplines, especially in mathematics and science, thus meeting their own goals-although not demonstrating (and not necessarily seek- ing) transfer to other disciplines or to practical life. A larger number of programs point to student claims that they now use the kincis of abilities taught. However, these claims are difficult to evaluate; they show that students generally fee! better about their thinking and learning abilities after the course, but they do not tell us whether these improved self-assessments are in fact warranted. Current testing practices in American education do not provide very powerful took for assessing the egects of efforts to teach thinking and reasoning. Testing practices may in fact interfere with cultivation of the kind of higher order skitis that are desired. In general, the tests used in assessing educational efforts involve multiple choice or other short, preceded answers. These tests can measure the accumulation of knowledge and can be used to examine specific components of reasoning or thinking. However, they are ill suited to assessing the kinds of integrated thinking that we call "higher order." If progress is to be macle in converting American schools to the higher order thinking agenda, we must develop forms of assessment that are more suited to the nature of the abilities we seek to teach.
48 EDUCATION AND LEARNING TO THINK How Should Instruction in Higher Order Thinking Be Organ A broad disposition to higher order thinking must be cultivated. sized? Isolated instruction in thinking skills, no matter how elegant the training provided, is unlikely to produce broadly used thinking ability. Thinking well requires more than knowing a selected set of strategies or techniques for problem solving and learning. It also re- quires knowing when these strategies are appropriate, and it requires the motivation to apply them, even though they may involve more effort than routine performances as well as some risk of social con- troversy. This implies that higher order skills must suffuse the school program from kindergarten on and in every subject matter. Training in general skills must be supplemented and supported by application throughout the curriculum. Various subject matters in the school program should be taught with an eye to developing the powerful thinking methods used by experts in those disciplines. Students must come to think of themselves as able and obligated to engage in critical analysis and problem solving throughout schooling. The following are promising directions that educational experimentation might take. Embedding instruction: in thinking skitis within the academic disciplines of the school curriculum has several advantages. It ensures that there is something solid to reason about. It supplies criteria from within the disciplinary traditions for what con- stitutes good reasoning and thinking. It ensures that something worthwhile will have been taught and learned even if wide transfer proves impossible. However, there is a caveat for those who seek to embed higher order skills teaching in the existing school program. Thinking skills tend to be driven out of the curriculum by ever- growing demands for teaching larger and larger bodies of knowledge. The idea that knowledge must be acquired first and that its applica- tion to reasoning and problem solving can be delayed is a persistent one in educational thinking. "Hierarchies" of educational objectives, although intended to promote attention to higher order skills, para- doxically feed this belief by suggesting that knowledge acquisition is a first stage in a sequence of educational goals. The relative ease of
LAUREN B. RESNICK 49 assessing people's knowledge, as opposed to their thought processes, further feeds this tendency In educational practice. Periodically, educators resist this pressure by proposing that var- ious forms of process- or skill-oriented teaching replace knowledge- oriented instruction. In the past, this has often led to a severe deemphasm of basic subject matter knowledge. This, in turn, has had the eEect of alienating many subject matter specialists, creating pendulum swings of educational opinion In which knowledge-oriented and process-oriented programs periodically displace each other, and clelaying any serious resolution of the knowledge process paradox. We cannot allow these pendulum swings to continue. Cognitive re- search shows the intimate relationship of subject matter knowledge and reasoning processes. We need both practical experimentation in schools and more controlled instructional experimentation in labo- ratories to discover ways of incorporating our new understanding of the knowledge-reasoning connection into instruction. Reorienting instruction in the S-Rs fthe Enabling disciplines"} so that they incorporate more of the higher order processes seems a particularly promising approach to improving thinking skills. The 3-Rs of the traditional basic school curriculum can become the environment for higher order education. Effective reading, writ- ing, and mathematics learning depend on elaboration, explication, and various forms of meaning construction. Reorienting basic in- struction in these curricula to focus on intentional, self-managed learning and strategies for meaning construction, rather than on rou- tin~zed performances, will result in more effective basic skill instruc- tion while providing a strong base for higher order skills development in other disciplines. A fourth Are reasoning might be considered a candidate for a new enabling discipline in the school curriculum. Many philosophers argue that principles of logical reasoning are unitary and not specific to particular domains of knowledge. The study of reasoning, they claim, can enable effective thinking across disciplines. Although there has been little empirical investigation of this claim, the hypothesis is a reasonable one and should be
so ED UCATIOIJ AND LEARNING TO THINK investigated carefully. A potential pitfall is that learning to identify reasoning fallacies a core element of most programs in informal logic and critical thinking may not in fact help people improve their own reasoning. This question needs careful attention, with appropriate evaluation of the extent to which students in reasoning courses learn to produce, as well as analyze, reasoned arguments. Links between thinking skills and motivation for thinking must be developed. Everyone agrees that successful educational achievement requires both motivation and appropriate cognitive activity. Yet our theories implicitly treat motivation and cognition as if they worked inde- pendently to determine the nature and extent of learning. In fact, these traditionally separate factors appear far more intimately ret lated than most current research helps us to appreciate.* However, recent research linking children's conceptions of their own and others' intelligence to the ways in which they analyze learning tasks offers a promising new connection, as does research on intrinsic motivation for learning. Active experimentation on what kinds of school activity organization cultivate motivation for particular kinds of complex and strategic learning is needed. The two concerns must be merged as this work proceeds; efforts to develop more intellectually functional motivational patterns should not become substitutes for efforts to es- tablish specific cognitive competencies. Motivation for learning will be empty if substantive cognitive abilities are not developed, and the cognitive abilities will remain unused if the disposition to thinking is not developed. *The monograph by Cole and Griffen (1987) explores this question ex- tensively from another angle, focusing on the social context for thinking. The present monograph and Cole and Griffen's study provide complementary vantage points for addressing this key set of issues.