Structuring an Assignment to Maximize Higher-Order Thinking

Structuring an Assignment to Maximize Higher-Order Thinking

Grade 5 students are assigned a research project in an English class. The goal is to maximize their higher-order thinking. In this assignment, the following components are required to be completed. The assignment is structured in the following way:

The assignment will include reading a text and explaining key themes and how they are expressed

The specific instructions follow a scaffolding and instruction differentiation approach

The instructions will are broken down into smaller chinks and given a structure to ensure every student is fully aware of the learning outcomes and expectations

The assignment is then differentiated through a modification of the assignment to trigger higher-order thinking

The assignment will first tap into prior knowledge. It will specifically remind students about the last reading assignment done in class and the group activity that divided the students into different groups to represent good guys and bad guys in the class reading

All vocabularies will be explained thoroughly to ensure that children are aware of context and their use

The assignment also categorizes important concepts including the exact chapters to read and what to look out for in identifying themes

The assignment will follow a specific steps for learning concepts that will enhance the cognitive and problem-solving and creativity skills of students. In this, the assignment will specifically be structured as follows:

Divide the reading chapter into paragraphs

Name the main idea of each paragraph (what issue can you outline?)

Provide additional features of the issue you have noted in this paragraph

What do you feel like is being addressed?

Provide an example of why you think that the issue is as you say it is

Link the examples to other examples outside of the reading to your own life or that of a person you know

Identify other similar concepts that the excerpt is discussing

What overall themes come out from all of your answers?

Two distinct higher-order thinking concepts are used for the

It applies cognitive and metacognitive strategies that includes practicing retrieving and reconstructing knowledge as per Karpicke and Blunt’s (2011) study

Use of the problem-solving and creativity strategy according to Kirschner & Hendrick (2020).

In the assignment structure chosen, two of the above-mentioned strategies that foster higher-order thinking are applied. The retrieval practice used follows what Karpicke and Blunt’s (2011) study presented as the best approach to foster higher-order thinking. The approach requires a student to create a map in their own heads that relates to the assignment. For example, the requirement to link examples in the reading assignment to other examples in real life is important in creating cognitive power. Similarly, the same structure provides an avenue for the students to solve problems and to use critical and creative thinking (Kirschner & Hendrick, 2020). For example, looking at the issues emerging in the assignment and linking the same to real life examples will ensure that a student reasons critically.


Hendrick, C. (2020). A novice is not a little expert: Novices and Experts. In How Learning Happens (pp. 4-12). Routledge.

Karpicke, J. D., & Blunt, J. R. (2011). Retrieval practice produces more learning than elaborative studying with concept mapping. Science, 331(6018), 772-775.

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