In India, employers, CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education), NCF (National Curriculum Framework), the Department of Education in Gujarat, and many tertiary institutions have all begun to call for greater focus in the classroom and in examinations on both English language proficiency and higher order (critical) thinking skills. The country no longer wants its teachers encouraging a great deal of rote learning as has been the case in the past.
The World Bank’s survey of employers in India showed, “Communication in English is ranked the most important skill under Communication Skills” and that “skill gaps are largest within higher-order thinking skills….”
Gujarat, the home state of Bridges, has already implemented changes at the university level as universities are now asked to incorporate higher order thinking skills in exams. In addition, the State Board exams for schools have moved almost entirely away from content/literature type questions and will, undoubtedly, move toward more HOT questions as CBSE has.
The StudyDo design was created as part of this forward movement.
Stimulates Higher Order Thinking
When teachers have been schooled in environments that focus mainly on memorization of content, they need strong examples and support in helping their students to develop critical thinking skills. The StudyDo design includes many examples of open-ended questions for teachers to use with their students.
In addition to using open-ended questions, teachers can easily stimulate higher order thinking skills when they implement the language tasks in the StudyDo design by focusing on helping students understand the questions and instructions, rather than focusing on getting a “right” answer.
Since language tasks in the StudyDo design generally have no “right” answers, teachers can focus on helping students feel comfortable using language and on stimulating students’ thinking which in turn stimulates greater language production.
The teacher does this best when she encourages noticing and producing language by focusing on the question and the story, not on the answer.
When students ask the teacher for an answer, the teacher stimulates thinking when she helps students understand the question by asking the student “What does the question say? The teacher may direct the students to look more carefully at the text: “Let’s look carefully at the story. What happens in the first line? What about the second line?” The teacher may facilitate collaboration and production by encouraging students to interact. “Ask your partner about the first line in the story. Ask the classmate behind you about the second.” Throughout each lesson, instructions support the teacher in making tasks more open-ended, stimulating more critical thinking, and encouraging more language production.
Learn more about how to ask questions that stimulate critical thinking and language use from the author of Bridges: Activities for Thinking, Speaking, & Writing English and Bridges to Academic Writing.