Tag: thinking

Creative Thinking Process

The Creative Thinking Process

Many people think creativity starts with an idea, but the reality is most creative ideas do not just pop into your head. If you want to come up with creative ideas, you need to establish the circumstances for it to happen. You cannot just hope for inspiration to strike, you have to plan and prepare for creativity.



Four Stages of the Creative Thinking Process

Graham Wallas theorizes the creative process in his book, The Art of Thought. In this book, Wallas asserts the creative process comes in four stages of creative thinking.

The four stages are:

  1. Preparation
  2. Incubation
  3. Illumination
  4. Verification



Stage One: Preparation

In the first stage of the creative thinking process, you define the problem, need, or desire, and then collect any information regarding the topic or problem. Your goal is to acquire as much knowledge as you can about the topic or problem.

After you gather the information, you read, sort, evaluate, organize, and outline it. You do anything that can help you move towards finding a solution. You want to immerse yourself in the topic or problem. In this stage, you are trying to absorb as much information as possible to allow this information to go into your subconscious.



Stage Two: Incubation

Incubation involves mentally processing the information you collected in stage one. The information will begin to churn in the back of your mind.  Your conscious and subconscious minds both work on the idea. Your begin making new connections, separating out unnecessary information, and cultivating new thoughts.

As you move through the incubation stage, you want to slowly step back from the topic or problem and let your mind contemplate and work through potential solutions or ideas.  Letting your mind wander leads to greater creativity.

The unconscious thought process involved in creative thinking is at work during this stage. Therefore, you what to stop consciously thinking of the topic or problem and turn your attention to something else. You may go for a walk, go for a jog, or do some gardening. Basically, anything that can give your conscious mind a rest. You want to give your unconscious mind time to digest all the material you gathered in the preparation stage.

All the information that you gathered slowly starts to take a subconscious effect. You stop consciously thinking about the problem you are trying to solve. After a period of incubation, the creative ideas often occur unexpectedly.

The incubation stage can last minutes, weeks, or even years.



Stage Three: Illumination

This is the stage where the idea, which has been incubating, suddenly takes shape. This is the “Aha Moment,” or the “light bulb” or “Eureka” moment. This usually comes when you are not actively thinking of a solution or creative idea. You are often doing something else like exercising, taking a shower, driving, or just resting.

You will typically have an emotional reaction of joy, knowing you have found the idea or solution for which you have been searching. This is the feeling you get when you have been struggling with your thoughts and cannot quite put your finger on what is missing. Suddenly, the ambiguous becomes clear. The idea appears suddenly and comes with a feeling of certainty. This is when all the pieces to the puzzle seem to fit together. Your overwhelming impulse is to get the ideas down on paper or other recording instrument.

Unlike the other stages, illumination is often very brief, involving a tremendous rush of insight within a short period of time.



Stage Four: Verification

After you come up with a creative idea, you want to determine if it will work or not. Therefore, in the final stage of the creative thinking process, you want to evaluate, test, and hopefully verify the idea that came to you in the illumination stage.

You need to use your analytical and critical thinking skills to vet your idea. If the idea or solution is not going to work, you may have to go back through the creative process from the beginning. However, if it is acceptable or if you just need some minor modifications, the creative process is complete.



Related Links

Creative Thinking Process

Convergent and Divergent Thinking

Analytical Thinking

Lateral Thinking

Lateral Thinking Techniques


Types of Thinking


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Six Facets of Understanding


Six Facets of Understanding

In their book, Understanding by Design (1998), Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe discuss “Six Facets of Understanding.”  These six facets of understanding help instructional designers determine if students have a deep understanding of the idea or concept that is being taught. The authors provide a framework for instructional designers that systematically addresses the six levels of understanding.

Wiggins and McTighe suggest that when a person truly understands, they…

  • Can explain
  • Can interpret
  • Can apply
  • Have perspective
  • Can empathize
  • Have self?knowledge


Demonstrating Understanding

The six facets of understanding are a way of confirming students truly understand what they have been taught. The six facets represent different ways of demonstrating understanding. If students do any of the six facets, they are demonstrating a level or degree of understanding.

There are different degrees of understanding. Understanding can be deepened or furthered by questions that arise from reflection, discussion, and application of ideas. A complete and mature understanding ideally involves the full development of all six kinds of understanding.



Six Facets of Understanding



At this first level, students can provide sophisticated explanations or theories to expand upon events, actions, and ideas. They are able to provide thorough and justifiable accounts of phenomena, facts, and data.



At this level, students can identify meaning in what they have learned through interpretations, narratives, and translations. They are able to relate it to their life and things happening around them. They are able to tell meaningful stories, offer apt translations, provide a revealing historical or personal dimension to ideas and events. Furthermore, they can make it personal or accessible through images, anecdotes, analogies, and models.



At this level, students can demonstrate the ability to effectively adapt what they have learned by using knowledge in new situations and contexts. They are able to take what they know and use it in everyday life.


Have perspective

At this level, students can identify a variety of critical and insightful points of view. They are able to see and hear viewpoints through critical eyes and ears, and understand something from more than their own perspective. They are also able to see the big picture.



At this level, students demonstrate an ability to get inside another person’s feelings. They are able to find value in what others might find odd, alien, or implausible. They can perceive sensitively on the basis of prior indirect experience.


Have self-knowledge

At this final level, students demonstrate a wisdom in knowing their personal style, prejudices, projections, and habits of mind both shape and impede our own understanding. They are aware of what they do not understand and why understanding is so hard. They are able to see the difference between their perspective and others.





Related Links

Finks Taxonomy Verbs

Learning Taxonomies

Six Facets of Understanding

Solo Taxonomy

Taxonomy of Significant Learning






Understanding by Design (1998), Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe

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Analytical Thinking and Critical Thinking

Analytical Thinking and Critical Thinking

Some people assume that analytical thinking and critical thinking are one in the same. However, that is incorrect. Although there are similarities, there are distinct differences between the two.



Analytical thinking is the mental process of breaking down complex information or comprehensive data into fundamental parts or basic principles.

Critical thinking is the mental process of carefully evaluating information and determining how to interpret it in order to make a sound judgment.



Differences between Analytical Thinking and Critical Thinking

A basic difference between analytical thinking and critical thinking is analytical thinking involves breaking down complex information into smaller parts while critical thinking involves taking outside knowledge into account while evaluating information. Basically, analytical thinking seeks to review and breakdown the information gathered while critical thinking looks to make a holistic judgment using various sources of information including a person’s own existing knowledge.

Analytical thinking is more linear and step-by-step breakdown of information. On the other hand, critical thinking is more holistic as it seeks to assess, question, verify, infer, interpret, and formulate.

Analytical thinking can be thought of as a step in the critical thinking process. When you have a complex problem to solve, you would want to use your analytical skills before your critical thinking skills. Critical thinking does involve breaking down information into parts and analyzing the parts in a logical, step-by-step manner. However, it also involves taking other information to make a judgment or formulate innovative solutions.

Additionally, with analytical thinking, you use facts within the information gathered to support your conclusion. Conversely, with critical thinking, you make a judgment based on your opinion formed by evaluating various sources of information including your own knowledge and experiences.





Analytical Thinking and Critical Thinking

About Analytical Thinking

Analytical thinking uses a step-by-step method to analyze a problem or situation by breaking it down into smaller parts in order to come to a conclusion.

With analytical thinking, you make conclusions by breaking down complex information into smaller parts and analyzing the parts. You look for patterns and trends as well a cause and effect within the information in order to find connections between the parts. In the end, you make draw a conclusion based on the available facts.


Steps for Analytical Thinking

Analytical thinking begins by gathering all relevant information. You then break up large, complex data into smaller, more manageable sizes. You then examine each sub-part to understand its components and relationship to the larger more complex data. You compare sets of data from different sources by looking at the information through different points of view with the objective to understand how it connects to other information. You search for patterns, trends, and cause and effect. Finally, you draw appropriate conclusions from the information in order to arrive at appropriate solutions.

Analytical thinking involves:

  1. Gathering relevant information
  2. Focusing on facts and evidence
  3. Examining chunks of data or information
  4. Identifying key issues
  5. Using logic and reasoning to process information
  6. Separating more complex information into simpler parts
  7. Sub-dividing information into manageable sizes
  8. Finding patterns and recognizing trends
  9. Identify cause and effect
  10. Understanding connections and relationships
  11. Eliminating extraneous information
  12. Organizing Information
  13. Drawing appropriate conclusions



About Critical Thinking

Critical thinking employs logic and reasoning to come to a conclusion about how best to perceive and interpret information in order to make sound judgments.

With critical thinking, you make conclusions regarding your unique perception of the information. You look into other pieces of data that could be relevant. Then you combine your new information with your existing knowledge of the world in order to make the most accurate assessment. Essentially, you reflect upon information in order to form a sound judgment that reconciles scientific evidence with common sense. Ultimately, you make reasoned judgments that are logical and well thought out by assessing the evidence that supports a specific theory or conclusion.


Steps for Critical Thinking

Critical thinking involves gathering all relevant information, then evaluating the information to determine how it should be best interpreted. You evaluate information by asking questions, assessing value, and making inferences. You then formulate ideas and theories based on the evaluation. You consider outside information rather than sticking strictly with the information presented. You then consider alternative possibilities before reaching a well-reasoned conclusion. Finally, you test your conclusions in an attempt to verify if evidence supports your conclusions and make your judgment.

Critical thinking involves:

  1. Gathering relevant information
  2. Evaluating information
  3. Asking questions
  4. Assessing bias or unsubstantiated assumptions
  5. Making inferences from the information and filling in gaps
  6. Using abstract ideas to interpret information
  7. Formulating ideas
  8. Weighing opinions
  9. Reaching well-reasoned conclusions
  10. Considering alternative possibilities
  11. Testing conclusions
  12. Verifying if evidence/argument support the conclusions


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Six Thinking Hats

Six Thinking Hats

Six Thinking Hats method was created by Edward De Bono as a model for explore different perspectives towards dealing with a complex situation, problem, or challenge. It is a simple, effective thinking process that helps you be more productive and focused when dealing with a situation.



About the Six Thinking Hats Technique

The Six Thinking Hats is a technique used to look at situations from different points of view. This technique helps you move away from habitual thinking styles and towards a broader view of a situation or problem. The process encourages you to deliberately use six different modes of thinking where otherwise you may be trapped by only one way of thinking.


Why Use the Technique

You cannot be emotional, objective, logical, and creative all at the same time. The Six Thinking Hats method allows you to focus your thought process. By wearing a specific colored hat, you focus on that particular mode of thinking. By switching “hats,” you can easily redirect and focus your thoughts on a different mode of thinking.



How it Works

There are six different imaginary hats that you can put on or take off. Each hat is a different color and represents a different style or mode of thinking. You can put on or take off one of these “hats” to indicate the type of thinking you are using. When you change your hat, you change your thinking.



Each Hat Represents a Different Style of Thinking

White hat: neutral and objective. It is concerned with facts and figures

Red hat: emotional view and feelings. It deals with emotions and hunches.

Black hat: caution, judging, and evaluating. It points out weaknesses in an idea.

Yellow hat: Positive, sunny, and optimistic. It explore the positives and benefits

Green hat: creativity and new ideas. It is an opportunity to discover new concepts.

Blue hat: big picture, cool and controlled. It used to manage the thinking process.


The hats are just visual cues to allow you to easily switch your mode of thinking. By putting on and taking off these imaginary hats, you switch from one type of thinking to another. For example, you may use the green hat to generate ideas, and then use the black hat to vet the ideas by evaluating them.



Group Discussions

This techniques can be very effective in group discussions on addressing a situation or problem. A specific colored hat may be used to request the group to direct the discussion toward a specific mode of thinking such as creative or logical.

This technique ensures that all the people in the group are focused on and thinking about the same subject in the same way at the same time. Therefore, when done in a group, it is important that everybody wear the same hat at the same time. You do not want one person generating ideas when another person just shoots those ideas done.



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Taxonomy of Significant Learning

Taxonomy of Significant Learning


Fink’s Taxonomy

Fink’s Taxonomy is known as the “Taxonomy of Significant Learning.”

In his book “Creating Significant Learning Experiences,” Dee Fink defined learning in terms of change. He believes in order for learning to occur, there has to be some kind of change in the learner. If there is no change, there is no learning. Additionally, he believes significant learning requires that there be some kind of lasting change that is important in terms of the learner’s life.


About Fink’s Taxonomy

Unlike other learning taxonomies, Fink’s is not hierarchical, but interactive. This means that each kind of learning can stimulate other kinds of learning. Additionally, Fink’s Taxonomy goes beyond cognitive processes and includes other goals of teaching. His taxonomy includes more affective aspects such as the “human dimension” and “‘caring” – identifying and/or changing one’s feelings.

Fink’s Taxonomy includes six kinds of significant learning.




Taxonomy of Significant Learning

Fink’s Taxonomy of Significant Learning contains six aspects of learning:

  1. Foundational Knowledge – Understanding and remembering information and ideas
  2. Application – Developing critical, creative, or practical thinking skills
  3. Integration – Making connecting between information, ideas, perspectives, people, or realms of life
  4. Human Dimension – Learning about oneself or others
  5. Caring – Developing new feelings, interests, or values
  6. Learning How to Learn – Becoming a better student, inquiring about a subject, becoming self-directing learners



Foundational Knowledge

This level focuses on the ability to understand and remember specific information and ideas. The objective of this level is to have the learner understand and remember important concepts, facts, terminology, and/or principles.  Foundational Knowledge provides the basic foundation and understanding that is necessary for other kinds of learning.




The objective at this level is to determine if the learner can apply what they have learned. This level includes developing certain skills or learning how to manage complex assignments or tasks. Participants learn how to apply a new skill by engaging in some new kind of action which may be intellectual, physical, or social.

This level also focuses on learning how to engage in various kinds of thinking including practical, critical, and creative.

Practical Thinking – Solving problems and making decisions

Critical Thinking – Analyzing and critiquing issues and situations

Creative Thinking – Generating new ideas, products, and perspectives

Just like Foundational Knowledge, Application learning allows other kinds of learning to be effective.




This level is about understanding the connections or interactions between two or more ideas, perspectives, learning experiences, or realms of life.

At this level the learner is able to see and understand the connections between different things and apply principles that they have learned.



Human Dimension

This level is about establishing effective working relationships with others. This level has two aspects:

  1. Personal Dimension (Self)
  2. Social Dimension (Others)

Personal Dimension: Creating and taking responsibility for one’s own life.

It involves learning about and changing one’s self. A person uses reflection and feedback from other to identify areas where he or she have strengths and areas for improvement.

Social Dimension: Interacting with others.




The focus at this level is to get learners to care about something new or care about something in a new way. Ideally, the learner will develop new feelings, interests, and values about learning. It is about becoming excited about a particular activity or subject. Additionally, he or she wants to be a good learner and wants to be able to master material and achieve high standards for themselves.



Learning How to Learn

At this level, the learner focuses on how to become a better learner by engaging in self-regulated learning or deep learning. They may also learn how to learn how to inquire and construct knowledge by engaging in a particular subject/topic.   Additionally, they may learn how to become self-directing learners by being a reflective practitioner and developing a learning agenda and plan.

This level focuses on preparing individuals to continue learning about a particular topic or subject after the course or session is over. This kind of learning not only enables a person to continue learning in the future, but helps them to do so with greater effectiveness.



Related Links

Finks Taxonomy Verbs

Learning Taxonomies

Six Facets of Understanding

Solo Taxonomy

Taxonomy of Significant Learning


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Lateral Thinking Techniques

Lateral Thinking Techniques

Lateral thinking is the mental process of generating ideas and solving problems by looking at a situation or problem from a unique perspective. It is the ability to think creatively or “outside the box.”

Lateral thinking involves breaking away from traditional modes of thinking and discarding established patterns and preconceived notions.

About Lateral Thinking Lateral thinking is a term coined by Edward De Bono in 1967 in his book The Use of Lateral Thinking. De Bono explained typical problem solving techniques involve a linear, step-by-step approach. He believes a more creative answers can be obtained by taking a step sideways to re-examine a situation or problem from an entirely different viewpoint.

Analytical vs. Lateral Thinking


Lateral Thinking Techniques

Lateral thinking techniques provide a deliberate, systematic process that results in innovative thinking. By using these unconventional thinking techniques, lateral thinking enables you to find creative solutions that you may otherwise not consider.

Below are seven techniques to help you elicit creative ideas that can be both novel and useful solutions to a problem.

  1. Alternatives
  2. Focus
  3. Challenge
  4. Random Entry
  5. Provocation and Movement
  6. Harvesting
  7. Treatment of Ideas

Lateral Thinking Techniques

Lateral Thinking Techniques Explained

  1. Alternatives: Use concepts to breed new ideas
  2. Focus: Sharpen or change your focus to improve your creative efforts
  3. Challenge: Break free from the limits of accepted ways of doing things
  4. Random Entry: Use unconnected input to open new lines of thinking
  5. Provocation and Movement: Move from a provocative statement to useful ideas
  6. Harvesting: Select the best ideas and shape them into practical solutions
  7. Treatment of Ideas: Strengthen and shape ideas to fit an organization or situation



This techniques is about using concepts as a breeding ground for new ideas. Concepts are general theories or ways of doing things. By thinking of a variety of ways to implement a concept is one way to generate ideas. You can then further assessed each specific idea to generate additional concepts. Establishing a new concept creates a whole new way for generating more ideas.



This techniques is about learning when and how to change your focus to improve your creative efforts. You can learn to focus on areas that other people have not bothered to think about. Doing so may lead you to a breakthrough idea simply because you are the first person to pay any attention to that area.



Challenge technique is about breaking free from the limits of traditional thinking and the accepted ways of doing things. It is based on the assumption that there may be a different and better way to do something even if there is no apparent problem with the current way.


Random Entry

Random Entry techniques is about using unconnected input to open up new lines of thinking. This technique draws on your mind to find connections between seemingly unrelated things. With this techniques, you can use a randomly chosen word, picture, sound, or other stimulus to open new lines of thinking.


Provocation and Movement

Provocation is about generating provoking thoughts and using them to build new ideas. It is a process that enables you to think outside the box in order to get a compelling list of innovative ideas to consider.



Harvesting techniques involves selecting specific ideas that seem practical and have the most value then reshaping them into practical solutions. It is about turning starter ideas into workable ideas. This technique is done toward the end of a thinking session in order to select ideas that may prove to be valuable in the current situation or in the future. Harvesting helps you identify ideas that could be implemented right away as well as those that may need more work.


Treatment of Ideas

Treatment of Ideas involves shaping and strengthening ideas so they best fit a given organization or situation.  The treatment technique is best for working with starter ideas to make them more specific and practical for a given situation. For example, you may think of some constraints that might interfere with the execution of an idea, so you shape or restructure the idea to fit within the constraints.


Related Links

Creative Thinking Process

Convergent and Divergent Thinking

Analytical Thinking

Lateral Thinking


Types of Thinking




De Bono, E. (1967). New Think: The Use of Lateral Thinking in the Generation of New Ideas. New York: Basic Books.

De Bono, E. (1969). The mechanism of mind. New York: Simon and Schuster.

De Bono, E. (1970). Lateral thinking: creativity step by step. New York: Harper &


De Bono, E. (1971a). Lateral Thinking for Management. New York: McGraw-Hill.


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Lateral Thinking

Lateral Thinking

Thinking outside the box

Lateral thinking is the mental process of generating ideas and solving problems by looking at a situation from a unique or different perspective.  This type of thinking involves breaking away from traditional modes of thinking and discarding established patterns and preconceived notions.

By using unconventional thinking techniques, lateral thinking enables you to find innovative solutions that you may otherwise not even consider.

Lateral Analtical Thinking

About Lateral Thinking

Lateral thinking is a term coined by Edward De Bono in 1967 in his book New Think: The Use of Lateral Thinking in the Generation of New Ideas. De Bono explained typical problem solving techniques involve a linear, step-by-step approach. He believes a more creative solutions can be obtained by taking a step sideways to look at a situation or problem from an entirely different viewpoint.



A Different Mode of Thinking

Lateral thinking is different from other standard modes of thinking and problem solving.  It lies between vertical thinking (classic step-by-step method of problem solving) and brainstorming.

Vertical thinking involves working out the solution step-by-step from the given data. Brainstorming is about generating many ideas, but not being concerned with the detailed implementation of them.

Lateral Thinking


Lateral thinking is similar to brainstorming in that it involves deliberately going outside of the standard bounded thought process. However, unlike brainstorming, it still uses a systematic process that leads to logical conclusions.

It is like vertical thinking in that it is a uses a systematic process that leads to logical conclusions. However, unlike vertical thinking, it involves changing a standard thinking sequence and arriving at the solution from completely different angles.



Lateral vs. Vertical Thinking

Vertical thinking uses the processes of logic. Vertical thinking is analytical, sequenced, deliberate, and precise. It involves taking the data from a problem and analyzing it with defined methodologies to find logical solutions.

Lateral thinking involves using reasoning that is not straightforward and obvious. It involves generating ideas that are often not obtainable using just traditional step-by-step logic.

Analytical vs. Lateral Thinking


Four Principles

The theory behind lateral thinking is that many problems require a different perspective in order to successfully solve them. It focuses on what could be rather than what is possible or likely. To accomplish this, De Bono identified four principles to guide you through the thinking process:

  1. Recognize the dominant ideas that polarize the perception of a problem.
  2. Search for different ways of looking at things.
  3. Relax the strict control applied to the rational-logical (vertical) thinking.
  4. Use chance to encourage other ideas



Related Links

Creative Thinking Process

Convergent and Divergent Thinking

Analytical Thinking

Lateral Thinking

Lateral Thinking Techniques


Types of Thinking



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Thinking about Thinking (Metacognition)

Thinking about thinking is a higher order thinking that enables understanding, analysis, and control of your cognitive processes. It involves planning, monitoring, assessing, and evaluating your use of your cognitive skills.


Metacognition Defined

Metacognition is the term used to define “thinking about thinking.” Metacognition literally translates cognition about cognition – “thinking about thinking.” It is your ability to understand and control your thinking process.





This higher order of thinking was introduced by psychologist John Flavell in the 1970’s. Flavell coined the term – metacognition. However, the concept of reflecting on your own thoughts and thinking process dates back to Plato, who emphasized the importance of self-reflection and self-awareness.



About Metacognition

  • How do you learn how to learn?
  • How do you learn best?
  • How do you approach a specific learning task?
  • How do you approach a problem to solve?
  • How do you know which approach worked best?

These are questions addressed by the concept of metacognition. Metacognition is about understanding how you learn, and knowing when and how to use particular strategies for learning and/or problem solving.

Metacognition is about your ability to use your knowledge of your thinking process to:

  1. plan a strategy for approaching a learning task
  2. create steps to solve a problem
  3. reflect on actions taken
  4. evaluate results
  5. modify your approach



Developing Metacognitive Abilities

Developing metacognitive abilities is not just about becoming a reflective learner and thinking about your thinking process. It is also about developing learning strategies to help you approach learning and problem solving tasks. It helps you choose the best approach or strategy for a given task. Metacognition plays an essential role in your learning and development process.



Elements of Metacognition

There are two elements of metacognition:

  1. Knowledge – understanding what you know about yourself as cognitive processor
  2. Regulation – managing or controlling how you go about learning or problem solving



Metacognitive Knowledge

Metacognitive knowledge refers to what you know about yourself as cognitive processor. Knowledge includes what you know about how you perceive, process, organize, and understand information. It also includes knowing how you learn best or the best way you can accomplish a task or solve a problem. Your knowledge of these factors can be used to manage and control your cognitive processes.

Metacognitive knowledge can be divided into three categories:

  1. knowledge variables
  2. task variables
  3. strategy variables


Person variables: What you recognize about your strengths and weaknesses in learning and processing information.

Task variables: What you know about the nature of a task and the processing demands required to complete the task.

Strategy variables: What you know about different strategies you can apply to successfully accomplish a task.



Cognitive Regulation

Cognitive regulation is about control over your thinking processes involved in learning and problem solving. It involves understanding, implementing, and managing strategies for processing information.

Strategies are those mental skills and abilities you use to approach and process information. It involves the way you think, study, and learn. Strategies help you comprehend information or solve problems. They may be specific methods you use to learn a task or adjustments you make to accomplish a task.

Metacognitive strategies include:

  1. planning how to approach a learning task
  2. using appropriate skills and strategies to solve a problem
  3. monitoring comprehension
  4. becoming aware of distractions
  5. using visual or auditory tools to help process information
  6. self-assessing and correcting based on assessments
  7. evaluating progress toward the completion of a task




Related Links

Creative Thinking Process

Convergent and Divergent Thinking

Analytical Thinking

Lateral Thinking

Lateral Thinking Techniques


Types of Thinking


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Bloom’s Taxonomy


Blooms Tamonomy




Bloom’s Taxonomy


Bloom’s Taxonomy is a classification system developed by educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom to categorize cognitive skills and learning behavior. The word taxonomy simply means classifications or structures. Bloom’s Taxonomy classifies thinking according to six cognitive levels of complexity: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. The categories are ordered from simple to complex and from concrete to abstract. According to Bloom, each level must be mastered before moving to the next higher level. Each level becomes more challenging as you move higher. 


The classification begins at the basic level that is simple recall skills and progresses to the perceived highest level of cognitive processing which they believe to be “evaluation.” The various levels have often been depicted as a stairway to reference a progressive climb to a higher level of thinking. A learner would have to first recall data and then understand it before he or she is able to apply it.



Blooms stairway



The basic or lowest level in the taxonomy focuses on knowledge acquisition and at this level, people simply memorize, recall, list, and repeat information. In the second level, people are able to classify, describe, discuss, and explain information. At the next tier, people demonstrate, interpret, and apply what they have learned and are able to use the information to solve problems. At the following level, they examine, compare, contrast, and distinguish what they have learned with other information. Then at the second to the highest level, people build a structure or pattern from diverse elements, and are able to put parts together to form a whole. Finally, at the highest level, people make judgments about the value of ideas or materials.




Bloom’s Taxonomy Chart


Classification Description of the Classification Level

Recall data or information



Demonstrate understanding of the meaning and ideas by organizing, comparing, translating, summarizing, and giving descriptions, and can state a problem in one’s own words.



Use acquired knowledge by applying a concept in a new situation or different way.



Examine and break information or concepts into component parts so that its organizational structure may be understood. Make inferences and able to distinguishes between facts and inferences.



Compile information in a different way by combining elements in a new pattern or proposing alternative solutions. Build a structure or pattern from diverse elements. Able to put parts together to form a whole.



Make judgments about the value of ideas or materials and able to present and defend opinions based on a set of criteria.






Blooms Chart





Applying Bloom’s Taxonomy


Bloom’s Taxonomy provides a valuable framework for teachers, trainers, and instructional designers to use to focus on higher order thinking. By providing a hierarchy of thinking, Bloom’s Taxonomy can help in developing performance tasks, creating questions, or constructing problems.


The following chart illustrates the expectation of the learner at each level of the hierarchy and gives some examples of how the learner can demonstrate his or her ability at each level.



Classification Level Learner’s Expectation
Knowledge Learner exhibits memory of previously learned material by recalling facts, terms, or basic concepts.  Example: List steps in a procedure, names the parts of a bicycle, or recall characters from a novel.
Comprehension Learner demonstrates understanding of facts and ideas by organizing, comparing, paraphrasing, translating, or summarizing main ideas.Example:   Explain how the main character felt about what happened to them or summarize what happened in a story.
Application Learner is able to solve problems in new situations by applying acquired knowledge, facts, techniques and rules in a different way.Example:   Explain how water bottles could be used to determine the weight of a basket of apples.
Analysis Learner is able to examine and break information into components by identifying motives or causes as well as make inferences and find evidence to support generalizations.Example: Categorize material in groups of recycle and unrecyclable.
Synthesis Learner is able to compile information in a different way by combining elements in a new pattern or proposing alternative solutions.Example: Create a new character and explain how that character would fit into the storyline.
Evaluation Learner is able to present and defend opinions by making judgments about information or validity of ideas based on a set of criteria.Example:   Determine if a person acted in a reasonable manner and defend that opinion, or determine if the route taken by an explorer was the best route to take at the time.  







Bloom’s Action Verbs


The following chart provides action verbs for each level of Bloom’s Taxonomy. By creating learning objectives using these action verbs, you indicate explicitly what the learner must do in order to demonstrate learning.



Levels Action Verbs
Knowledge Arrange, Define, Describe, Draw, Find, Identify, Label, List, Match, Memorize, Name, Order, Outline, Quote, Recognize, Recall, Recite, State, Tell, Write
Comprehension Classify, Convert, Conclude, Demonstrate, Describe, Discuss, Distinguish, Explain, Generalize, Identify, Illustrate, Interpret, Indicate, Infer, Paraphrase, Predict, Report, Rewrite, Restate, Review, Summarize, Translate
Application Apply, Change, Choose, Compute, Demonstrate, Discover, Dramatize, Employ, Illustrate, Interpret, Interview, Manipulate, Modify, Predict, Prepare, Produce, Select, Show, Solve, Transfer, Use
Analysis Analyze, Appraise, Breakdown, Categorize, Characterize, Classify, Compare, Contrast, Debate, Deduce, Diagram, Differentiate, Discriminate, Distinguish, Examine, Illustrate, Infer, Outline, Relate, Research, Separate, Subdivide
Synthesis Arrange, Assemble, Categorize, Combine, Comply, Compose, Construct, Create, Design, Develop, Devise, Formulate, Generate, Integrate, Invent, Perform, Plan, Propose, Reconstruct, Relate, Reorganize, Revise, Rewrite, Synthesize
Evaluation Appraise, Argue, Assess, Choose, Conclude, Critic, Decide, Defend, Estimate, Evaluate, Interpret, Judge, Justify, Predict, Prioritize, Rank, Rate, Value





Bloom’s Taxonomy Revised

Thinking Skills






Bloom, B. S. (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals. Handbook 1; Cognitive Domain.


Overbaugh, R. & Schultz, L. “Bloom’s Taxonomy.”


Krathwohl, D. R. (2002). “A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy: An Overview.” Theory into Practice


Clark, D. (2010). Bloom’s taxonomy of learning domains: The three types of learning. Big Dog & Little Dog’s Performance Juxtaposition.



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Thinking Skills


Thinking skills are the mental activities you use to process information, make connections, make decisions, and create new ideas. You use your thinking skills when you try to make sense of experiences, solve problems, make decisions, ask questions, make plans, or organize information.

Everybody has thinking skills, but not everyone uses them effectively. Effective thinking skills are developed over a period of time. Good thinkers see possibilities where others see only obstacles or roadblocks. Good thinkers are able to make connection between various factors and be able to tie them together. They are also able to develop new and unique solutions to problems.

Thinking refers to the process of creating a logical series of connective facets between items of information. Often times, thinking just happens automatically. However, there are times when you consciously think. It may be about how to solve a problem or making a decision. Thinking enables you to connect and integrate new experiences into your existing understanding and perception of how things are.

The simplest thinking skills are learning facts and recall, while higher order skills include analysis, synthesis, problem solving, and evaluation.


Levels of Thinking



Core Thinking Skills

Thinking skills are cognitive operations or processes that are the building blocks of thinking. There are several core thinking skills including focusing, organizing, analyzing, evaluating and generating.

Focusing – attending to selected pieces of information while ignoring other stimuli.

Remembering – storing and then retrieving information. 

Gathering – bringing to the conscious mind the relative information needed for cognitive processing. 

Organizing – arranging information so it can be used more effectively.

Analyzing – breaking down information by examining parts and relationships so that its organizational structure may be understood. 

Connecting – making connections between related items or pieces of information.

Integrating – connecting and combining information to better understand the relationship between the information.

Compiling – putting parts together to form a whole or building a structure or pattern from diverse elements.

Evaluating – assessing the reasonableness and quality of ideas or materials on order to present and defend opinions.

Generating – producing new information, ideas, products, or ways of viewing things.



Thinking Skills

Classifications and Types of Thinking

Convergent or Analytical Thinking: Bringing facts and data together from various sources and then applying logic and knowledge to solve problems or to make informed decisions.

Divergent thinking: Breaking a topic apart to explore its various components and then generating new ideas and solutions.

Critical Thinking: Analysis and evaluation of information, beliefs, or knowledge.

Creative Thinking: Generation of new ideas breaking from established thoughts, theories, rules, and procedures.




Thinking about thinking is called Metacognition. It is a higher order thinking that enables understanding, analysis, and control of your cognitive processes. It can involve planning, monitoring, assessing, and evaluating your use of your cognitive skills.



Thinking Skills

In the simplest form, convergent thinking or deductive reasoning looks inward to find a solution, while divergent or creative thinking looks outward for a solution.

Both thinking skills are essential for school and life.  Both require critical thinking skills to be effective.  Both are used for solving problems, doing projects and achieving objectives.  However, much of the thinking in formal education focuses on the convergent analytical thinking skills such as following or making a logical argument, eliminating the incorrect paths and then figuring out the single correct answer. 

Standardized tests such as IQ tests only measure convergent thinking.  Pattern recognition, logic thought flow, and the ability to solve problems with a single answer can all be tested and graded.  Although it is an extremely valuable skill, there are no accurate tests able to measure divergent or creative thinking skills.

Types of thinking



Types of thinking

Critical thinking

Blooms Taxonomy

Bloom’s Taxonomy Revised

Mind Mapping

Chunking Information




Critical Thinking skills

Divergent and Convergent thinking skills are both “critical thinking” skills. 

Critical thinking refers to the process of actively analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating and reflecting on information gathered from observation, experience, or communication and is focused on deciding what to believe or do.
Critical thinking is considered a higher order thinking skills, such as analysis, synthesis, and problem solving, inference, and evaluation. 

The concept of higher order thinking skills became well known with the publication of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives.  Bloom’s Taxonomy was primarily created for academic education; however, it is relevant to all types of learning. 

Often times when people are problem solving or decision making, he or she flips back and forth between convergent and divergent thinking.  When first looking at a problem, people often analyze the facts and circumstances to determine the root cause.  After which, they explore new and innovative options through divergent thinking, then switch back to convergent thinking to limit those down to one practical option.



Author:  James Kelly, September 2011

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