Knowledge vs Higher Order Thinking Skills

It is important to distinguish the difference between "knowledge" and the "higher order thinking skills needed to apply that knowledge". The essential "higher order" critical thinking and problem solving skills that the findingQED framework and platform was invented to address include the abilities to:

  • Observe keenly
  • Define the situation & relevant facts
  • Ask penetrating questions
  • Analyze & interpret information
  • Make connections & establish relationships 
  • Derive inferences
  • Recognize patterns & create insights by applying relevant concepts
  • Uncover assumptions, biases, & constraints
  • Judge ambiguities & assess uncertainties
  • Formulate solution possibilities
  • Support solution(s) with well reasoned fact-based arguments

Obviously the exercise and development of these higher order skills span specific knowledge domains and topical content. That said, each story and the problem(s) arising within that story exists within some context. It is entirely up to the scenario creator to decide whether the context and topical content will require domain expertise and domain models, or whether the context and content are of such a general nature that they are accessible to anyone. This scenario design choice is dependent upon the objective of the scenario creator. In some situations, the intent is to solely work on the higher order skills, and in other situations, the intent is to exercise and test the application of specific domain knowledge using the higher order skills.

If the scenario is "domain specific" the author may want to craft "domain oriented" problem contexts and situations that are either (1) within the targeted learner's expected knowledge and skills scaffold, or alternatively, (2) operate in a proximal area just beyond the existing scaffold boundaries. When the author incorporates domain specific concepts and knowledge within a scenario, that scenario has the additional value of being able to develop, exercise and assess knowledge competence in addition to developing and assessing critical thinking and creative problem solving skills.

Alternatively, the author may choose to create problem scenarios consisting entirely of "general knowledge"; that is, problem scenarios not requiring the understanding or application of any particular domain knowledge. In this instance, the intent of the problem scenario is solely to develop, exercise and assess the core critical thinking and problem solving skills, and not to focus on the application of domain knowledge.

Each of these different design approaches for scenarios are appropriate, and the preferred design solely depends upon the objectives of the scenario author. On findingQED's platform, it is not necessary for a problem scenario to require the application of any domain expertise in order to develop and assess critical thinking and creative problem solving skills. Critical thinking and problem solving is a set of independent thinking skills that can be developed and exercised in our innovative framework even when the problem scenario context and facts are of a general nature and easily understood by all.

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