According to researchers in Israel,1 teachers who encourage higher-order thinking skills with their classes are likely to improve students' attitudes to learning

Students discussing a chemical structure

Source: Jupiterimages

Miri Barak of Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and her colleagues David Ben-Chaim and Uri Zoller from the University of Haifa-Oranim in Israel interviewed and observed teachers to determine the different approaches used in the classroom. To identify the effect these had on thinking skills, students had to complete a questionnaire and a multiple-choice test before and after each lesson. The questionnaire was designed to determine the students' attitudes to thinking skills while the multiple-choice test assessed their ability to use these skills. The researchers also checked on the long-term effect of teachers' approaches by getting the students to complete the questionnaire and test again two years later.  

The Israeli team reports that the 'thinking skills teachers' typically used situations that were relevant to the students' own experiences. Whenever possible, they linked work to previous lessons and tried to maintain the links with daily life and current events. During lessons pupils were required to ask questions and were encouraged to express freely their ideas and opinions. Based on the statistical analysis of results from the study students who had been taught by the 'thinking skills teachers' showed improved critical thinking skills, greater self-confidence and maturity, and were more prepared to asks questions compared with those students who had not experienced such teaching.