How Do We
Promote Higher Level Thinking Today?
It's one thing for educators to teach to tests that offer learners
certification that proves they've mastered key facts and concepts
that panels of experts deem necessary for an 'educated' person to
It's another thing altogether to help learners exploit their native
curiosity and continuously improve their higher order thinking so
they are able to solve the endless stream of complex problems that
everyday life delivers. It's true, as Tony Karreer says,
life is mostly an open book test
For many years, Bloom's
has offered teachers and learners some useful
distinctions that help break down complex tasks into structured
learning experiences that allow people to build on their
taxonomy began with knowledge, understanding, and application as
skills and cast higher level skills as analysis, synthesis, and
However, getting learners engaged - and keeping
them engaged - in the increasingly busy and 'noisy' information
environment of the 21st century seems to be presenting new
In 2001, Anderson and Krathwohl
adapted Bloom's model to fit
the needs of today by employing more outcome-oriented language,
workable objectives, and changing nouns to active verbs.
Most notably, knowledge was
converted to remember.
In addition, the highest level of development is now called
create, rather than
This circle is called the Cognitive Taxonomy Circle:
Barbara Clark (2007) provided an adaptation of Bloom's work to
facilitate active learning.
(You can click on the image above to get a larger
representation if you're having a hard time reading it here. I've
linked the graphic to another page online that displays it in a
I find Clark's tool useful when I need to respond
to learners' needs directly, actively, and specifically. I use it
to help me meet learners of all ages - and all abilities -
where they are in
their personal inquiry, not where I
am, or where I think
they ought to be.
When I'm able to do this, engagement seems to take
care of itself.
What tools do you use to help you meet
learners where they are?
This is not a rhetorical question. It's a real
question that I'm truly curious about…