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Ways to Enhance Higher-order Thinking Skills

Just mugging things up is not going to help your kid excel in studies or in their life. Knowing the how and the why for everything that is being taught is essential, and that’s where higher-order thinking skills come into play.

No doubt, rote learning has its place. When it comes to memorizing important dates or data, rote learning is an effective method of learning. But what if you want to do more than just memorize facts and figures? What if the question is not about when did India get independence, but, instead, how did India get independence?

To answer such questions, one needs to think rather than simply bring up information stored in one’s memory. You need to engage in higher-order thinking to respond innovatively and engage creatively.

What is higher-order thinking (HOT)?

Higher-order thinking skills are skills that go beyond just recalling facts and figures and help in the development of cognitive skills in an individual. It may be easy for some students, while others may struggle. But the good part is, like most skills, higher-order thinking skills can also be learned, and with practice, their level can be honed.

Higher-order thinking requires students to do something with the facts or information they have memorized. Students must understand the concepts rather than just memorize them. They need to deduce, connect facts and concepts with each other, and apply them in real life to seek new solutions to new problems.

Why are higher-order thinking skills (HOTS) important for students?

As questions that require students to use their high-order thinking skills are given more weightage in exams, it becomes essential for students to learn and practice these skills. Listed below are a few points stating the fact why HOTS are important for students.

1) Promotes the development of critical thinking skills:

The basic reason why students should learn and practice high-order thinking skills is to promote the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Understanding and analyzing concepts and applying them to solve real-life problems to improve their cognitive skills and help in their overall development.

2) Encourages Questioning:

As HOTS involve knowing the how, why, and what for everything being taught, it encourages students to question everything they see or learn and also fills them with curiosity to learn more.

3) Encourages Creative Thinking:

Some students excel at thinking creatively, while others struggle at it. HOTS can develop this skill. Higher-order thinking skills involve thinking creatively and innovatively to find solutions to different problems.

4) Increases potential for innovation:

Innovative thinking is a crucial skill that helps provide a competitive edge over others in academics and the professional life ahead. When students learn new things, it gives them the confidence to innovate their way of thinking and come up with innovative ideas that help them excel in their varied fields.

Ways to enhance higher-order thinking skills

The following are a few ways in which teachers and parents can use to enhance higher-order thinking skills in students.

1) Teach concepts of concepts:

To enhance students’ higher-order thinking skills, teachers and parents should focus on teaching the students the concepts behind concepts. This will give students better clarity and apply the knowledge gained in real life.

2) Tell and Show:

Often, students have difficulty understanding concepts in math and science. The teacher should pay attention to teaching such concepts by first discussing them and then showing the students practically. The visual and verbal representations yield a more thorough understanding of concepts and last longer in memory.

3) Expand Discussions:

The teachers and parents should ask the students about their opinions on different topics. Doing this activity will give students the confidence to speak out, share opinions, and compel them to think through and acquire profound knowledge about a particular topic before speaking. For example, ask students to read a newspaper or novel and then share their opinion on it.

4) Connect Concepts:

Teachers should guide students through the process of connecting different concepts and also arranging them in hierarchical order. For example: if the concept is “elephant,” a larger concept to which an elephant belongs is “mammal,” and an even larger concept is “animal kingdom.” This level of thinking enables students to see how many connections can be created from the concepts they already know. As a result, students will be able to gain clarity on different concepts and absorb more knowledge.

5) Teach inference:

From a young age only, students should be taught how to draw inferences between the concepts. For example, when a kid is told to put on a raincoat or get an umbrella before stepping outside, you can ask them what that means about how the weather is outside. Teachers can play a fun activity wherein they may use well-known slogans and have the whole class draw inferences from them. Activities like these will encourage the students to brainstorm different inferences from different concepts, thereby increasing their higher-order thinking skills.


Thus, we can conclude that higher-order thinking skills are skills that require students to do something with their learning, rather than simply retaining it and repeating it when required. These skills can be easily acquired and improved through practice. As employees with high-order thinking skills are preferred over others, the teachers and parents should explicitly work towards sharpening and inculcating these skills in their kids with the ways mentioned above and make their sessions fun and interesting.

Teachmint is keen on changing the future of education with its advanced LMS and ERP tools. With more than 20+ modules for educational institutions like admission management, attendance management system, performance management, and more; it is changing the teaching-learning experience.

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