Teaching Cognitive Skills

Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote above rings truer today than ever. Teaching how to think…developing those crucial cognitive skillsets.

There is no question that educators, administrators, policy makers, and other stakeholders see the value in preparing students with these skills, but the question lingers in how to best assess those cognitive skills?

The National Academy of Sciences stakes out in a 2011 workshop summary report entitled, Assessing 21st Century Skills; that there are three cognitive skills that should be assessed. These cognitive skills include: non-routine problem solving, systems thinking, and critical thinking. The report goes further into four assessment examples that could be used by students. These testing examples are fascinating and I’d be curious in how students would perform on them.

As a teacher who prepares seven different classes each day and with colleagues who do the same we must ask ourselves, how do we realistically help students gain these cognitive skills in the limited time and preparation time we have for each day. Not to just do well on an exam, but to do well in life. Research studies abound about how students do not naturally transfer information from one topic area to another…they have to be taught and practice it.

Teacher Challenge: Choose one upcoming topic you’ll teach and integrate another subject area that students could apply their learning through.

Learner Challenge: Find a study at this link, https://www.nap.edu/author/BOTA/division-of-behavioral-and-social-sciences-and-education/board-on-testing-and-assessment that peeks your interest. Reflect on how it may influence your practice in the classroom. (I’ve chosen to read Approaches to the Development of Character)   

Works Cited:

National Academy of Sciences 2011 Workshop Summary:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK84224/

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