Higher Order Thinking: 7 Ways to Improve this Skill

Posted by Erica Warren on

Higher order thinking or higher-order thinking skills (HOTS), is based on the theory that some more advanced forms of learning require advanced or complex cognitive processing. Bloom's taxonomy, for instance, suggests the HOTS levels include analysis (breaking apart and organizing information), evaluation (examining the outcome), and synthesis (pulling information together).  The teaching of these skills demands different and more advanced instructional methods than concrete levels of learning such as rote memorization and repetition.
Student exhibiting higher order thinking skills

How Can We Teach Higher Order Thinking Skills?

Instead of parroting facts back to a teacher, HOTS asks students to:

  1. understand concepts
  2. making sense of implied meanings from lessons or content cues
  3. connect new learning to old knowledge
  4. categorize information
  5. manipulate information
  6. organize and reorganize new concepts 
  7. generate solutions to problems

Common Warning Signs of Higher Order Thinking Skill Weaknesses:

Students that struggle with HOTS often exhibit difficulties:

  • understanding abstract concepts
  • answering test questions that are worded differently than study materials
  • comprehending and making connections to the material 
  • learning a process or steps that must be completed
  • making inferences
  • using metacognition - awareness of one's own thoughts
  • brainstorming ideas
  • problem-solving
  • thinking critically
  • comparing and contrasting
  • visualizing concepts and their relationship to other concepts

What Are Some Products that Develop Higher Order Thinking Skills?

Good Sensory Learning offers a number of products that develop Higher Order Language Skills.  Click on any of the titles below to learn more about the publication:

As you can see, higher order language is a critical skill for students to master.  If you have any questions, reach out any time.

Cheers, Dr. Erica Warren
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator, and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials. She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Learning Specialist Courses.


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