Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) in Education

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High-Order Thinking Skills is a concept popular in American education reform. It distinguishes critical thinking skills from low-order learning outcomes, such as those attained by rote memorization. HOTS include synthesizing, analyzing, reasoning, comprehending, application, and evaluation. HOTS are based on various taxonomies of learning, such as that propagated by Benjamin Bloom in his Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals (1956).

HOTS and Special Education

Children with learning disabilities (LD) can benefit from educational programming that includes HOTS. Historically, their disabilities engender lowered expectations from teachers and other professionals and lead to more low-order thinking goals enforced by drill and repetition activities. However, LD children are often weak in the memo and can develop the higher level thinking skills that teach them how to be problem solvers.

HOTS in Education Reform

The teaching of High-Order Thinking Skills is a hallmark of American education reform. Traditional education favors the acquisition of knowledge, especially among elementary school-age children, over the application and other critical thinking. Advocates believe that without a basis in fundamental concepts, students cannot learn the skills they will need to survive in the work world. Reform-minded educators see the acquisition of problem-solving skills to be essential to this very outcome. Reform-minded curricula, such as the Common Core, have been adopted by a number of states, often amid controversy from traditional education advocates.