Higher Order Thinking and Depth of Knowledge“Were all instructors to realize that the quality of mental process, not the production of correct answers, is the measure of educative growth something hardly less than a revolution in teaching would be worked.” (Dewey, 1916) According to Barak and Dori there is much agreement that “A central goal of science education is to help students to develop higher order thinking skills, enabling them to think critically, ask significant questions, reason, and solve problems (Bybee and DeBoer 1994; Zohar and Dori 2003; Zoller 1993).” (2009) In fact, a decade prior to the NGSS, “To comply with science education reform (National Research Council (NRC) 1996, 2000; National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) 2003) and the Standards for Professional Development in Schools (NCATE 2001), science teachers are expected to apply constructivist learning and higher order thinking among their students (Barak et al. 2007; Dori and Herscovitz 2005; Tobin et al. 1990).” (Barak and Dori, 2009)
As described by King and colleagues, “Higher order thinking skills include critical, logical, reflective, metacognitive, and creative thinking. They are activated when individuals encounter unfamiliar problems, uncertainties, questions, or dilemmas. Successful applications of the skills result in explanations, decisions, performances, and products that are valid within the context of available knowledge and experience and that promote continued growth in these and other intellectual skills. . . . Appropriate teaching strategies and learning environments facilitate their growth as do student persistence, self-monitoring, and open-minded, flexible attitudes.” (King, Goodson & Rohani)
In 1956, Bloom suggested a taxonomy of six levels of thinking. Since then the levels have been slightly revised by his colleagues. “In the new version, Anderson and colleagues changed the nouns to verbs to reflect thinking as an active process.
Revised Category #1: Knowledge → Remember
Revised Category #2: Comprehension → Understand
Revised Category #3: Application → Apply
Revised Category #4: Analysis → Analyzing
Revised Category #5: Evaluation → Design
Revised Category #6: Synthesis → Create” (Tankersley, 2005)
setting, or the situation - which students will express and share the depth and extent of their learning. Are they expected to acquire knowledge (DOK-1)? Apply knowledge (DOK-2)? Analyze knowledge (DOK-3)? Augment knowledge (DOK-4)?” (Francis 2016) In further comparison, Francis explains:
“In teaching and learning for cognitive rigor, Bloom's determines the cognition or thinking students are expected to demonstrate as part of a learning experience. That's the verb that starts the educational objective or academic standard. Webb's designates the context - the scenario, setting, and situation - students are expected to express and share what they are learning.” (Francis 2016)
He further proposes that the DoK be looked at like “ceilings” and not as the ubiquitous “DoK Wheel” which does not represent the cognitive rigor accurately. For an example see, Webb’s DoK Model Context Ceilings.
Why does Phenomenal Science consider the research and theory with Higher Order thinking and Depth of Knowledge? As stated by Hess and colleagues,
“Students learn skills and acquire knowledge more readily when they can transfer their learning to new or more complex situations, a process more likely to occur once they have developed a deep understanding of content (National Research Council, 2001). Therefore, ensuring that a curriculum aligns to standards alone will not prepare students for the challenges of the twenty-first century. Teachers must therefore provide all students with challenging tasks and demanding goals, structure learning so that students can reach high goals, and enhance both surface and deep learning of content (Hattie, 2002). Both Bloom's Taxonomy and Webb's depth of knowledge therefore serve important functions in education reform at the state level in terms of standards development and assessment alignment. (Hess, et al, 2009)
It has been shown that higher order thinking and deeper knowledge are promoted by “implementing a constructivist-oriented pedagogy” and especially by implementing science discourse. (Barak and Dori, 2009) This is due to the nature of the process of building understanding through discourse. As noted by Barak and Dori, students “demand evidence to support opinions and challenge facts, assumptions, and arguments underlying different viewpoints. Since a good discussion involves posing questions, expressing critical views, and providing arguments to support one’s views (Graesser et al. 2002), it enhances higher order thinking skills among its participants.” (Barak and Dori, 2009) To sum up the critical importance of HOTS and DoK for Phenomenal Science, as Hess states, ”Because students need exposure to novel and complex activities every day, schools in the twenty-first century should prepare students by providing them with a curriculum that spans a wide range of the cognitive rigor matrix.” (Hess, et al, 2009) Further, as Bloom notes, “Education must be increasingly concerned about the fullest development of all children and youth, and it will be the responsibility of the schools to seek learning conditions which will enable each individual to reach the highest level of learning possible.” (Bloom as quoted by Farr, 2006)
Because the NGSS are quite rigorous and require higher order thinking and also depth of knowledge, we have have integrated many recommended instructional strategies to ensure a matching level of rigor in Phenomenal Science. Some of these recommended strategies are: