About Thinking Tools and classroom communication: Discussion with Dr Cas Olivier

Name of Scholar / Expert:

Dr Cas Olivier

Who is Dr Cas Olivier? 

Dr Cas Olivier is a specialist on the thinking brain. In his work, he demonstrates how twenty-eight inborn thinking tools are integrated and holistically employed in thinking processes. This approach provides thinking roadmaps to gear learners towards developmental mindsets, and this thinking tools programme is registered with the South African Council for Educators.

He provides national and international online Thinking Tools sessions to teachers, parents and learners, as well as businesses and entrepreneurs.

He is the author of The DNA of Great Teachers and a co-author of Critical Thinking: A Multi-Dimensional Approach in the Context of South Africa. His book Potential Development using Thinking Tools: The Key to Flipped Teaching will be released on 1 November 2019. An extract is available here.

What is Thinking Tools classroom communication and how can it enhance better thinking and learning?

The rule on verbal communication is clear: one person can communicate with only one person at a time. Experience has taught us that a father cannot simultaneously attend to his child and his wife telling him what happened during the day. He can either speak to the one or the other. A CEO cannot talk to a manager and her personal assistant at the same time.

Traditional teachers simultaneously talk to all the learners in their class when they teach. They regard this as their claim to fame. They claim that they were trained during their studies to teach classes. This is true – not that they can teach a whole class at a time, but that they were taught to do it. After they have taught a topic to a class, they ask checking questions at the end to determine which learners have arrived at the destination and which did not. It is not clear why they ask checking questions at the end of the lesson, because it is too late to rectify or remediate misunderstandings or information that was not grasped.

Regarding classroom communications what have you found are some of the biggest challenges parents, teachers and practitioners face?  What are recommended ways to overcome them?

Notwithstanding the fact that there is no evidence that one person can communicate with a group and can guarantee that the message is understood in full, teachers keep on teaching classes. When starting the explanation, the teacher regards the class as a group, which creates an ambiance – or the mood of the teacher versus the class. These classes provide the ideal hiding place for learners who do not understand the work. It is common knowledge that troublesome people, in this case learners, flourish in groups, which leads to disruptive unproductive noise that subsequently has a negative impact on classroom management.

This paradigm is based on communication as it happens in real-life settings. The rule on verbal communication is clear: one person can communicate with only one person at a time. Therefore, thinking tools teachers’ communication paradigm informs them that they can only teach one learner at a time. They refrain from presenting and explaining, for example, PowerPoint slides, one after the other, because they know learners’ brains work in hyperlinked ways which defeat all linear spoon-feeding attempts.

Thinking tools teachers’ primary task during communication is to carefully listen and respond to individual learners’ inner speech, whether intentional or unintentional. This is contrary to teacher-centred teachers who are under the impression that they can simultaneously communicate with all the learners in the class. Because they have not yet made the paradigm shift towards thinking tools teaching, they defend themselves by saying that there is not enough time to talk to each learner, especially with bigger classes, and still be able to cover the curriculum. There is no evidence or reason to believe that when a person becomes a teacher, the person receives superpowers and is then able to communicate with a class.

Learning is driven and guided by scaffolding questions by the teacher. Such questions are not randomly asked and neither are learners bombarded with a series of preset questions. Questions are asked one at a time. Each question is a formative assessment question custom-designed and directed at an individual learner. Since teaching is primarily about relationships, it is imperative that the teacher addresses each learner on their name when asking a question or starting a conversation.

What are some of the important signs that will indicate to parents, teachers and practitioners the successful functioning/implementation of classroom communication the Thinking Tools way?

Teachers are often surprised by how well the class engages and how the discipline improves when they start asking questions to individual learners instead of directing questions to the class. Calling learners on their names means that 1) the teacher respects them and expect the same respect in return, 2) the teacher recognises them, and 3) the teacher is silently signalling that no one can hide in the crowd. The latter is key in maintaining good classroom discipline.

Visit our Tools and Research and Other Articles pages for Dr Olivier’s recommended and applicable literature sources on classroom communications and Thinking Tools. 


Dr Olivier’s Contact Details are as follow:
Cell: +27(0)83-259-2857
Email address: cas@learningdesigns.co.za


Disclaimer for the International Association of Cognitive Education (IACE)
If you require any more information or have any questions about our site’s disclaimer, please feel free to contact us by email at info@ilearnthinking.org

Disclaimers for IACE
All the information (on our website, social media sites and e-mails) is published in good faith and for general information purpose only. Although our intent is always to provide accurate information that is theoretically sound and practically relevant, IACE does not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information you find on our website, social media sites and e-mails, is strictly at your own risk. IACE will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with the use of our website, social media sites and e-mail messages.

From our website, social media sites and e-mail messages, you can visit other websites by following hyperlinks to such external sites. While we strive to provide only quality links to useful and ethical websites, we have no control over the content and nature of these sites. These links to other websites do not imply a recommendation for all the content found on these sites. Site owners and content may change without notice and may occur before we have the opportunity to remove a link which may have gone ‘bad’.

Please be also aware that when you leave our website, other sites may have different privacy policies and terms which are beyond our control. Please be sure to check the Privacy Policies of these sites as well as their “Terms of Service” before engaging in any business or uploading any information.

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Update
Should we update, amend or make any changes to this document, those changes will be prominently posted here.

About Academic Language: Discussion with Elsefie Wranz

Name of Professional:

Elsefie Wranz

Academic Background

BA (Linguistics + Afr Ndl (SU)); B Speech therapy and Audiology (SU); Dip Spec Ed (Learners with special Ed Needs (SU); M Phil (Health Sciences Education) Stellenbosch University
Trained in Neuro-Developmental Therapy (NDT – Bobath method)

Who am I?

I am a speech-language therapist and audiologist at a school for learners with special education needs for the past 25 years. I have worked with learners from pre-school to Grade 12. For the past twenty years I have dedicated most of my time to language intervention for the older learner with specific language challenges in both reception of language and written expression.  I have a passion to support the deaf learner with academic challenges, particularly language challenges.  I have been trained as a Hi Hopes Home interventionist; a home-based program which serves parents and families with deaf babies.  I was one of the first trained mentors as well as one of the first three Hi Hopes trainers in Africa.  I am a part-time clinical tutor and lecturer at the Dept of Speech-language and Hearing therapy since 1996.

I have been a member (2000) and board member of International Association for Cognitive Education in South Africa since (2001 – 2018).

What is the significance of Academic language versus Casual language for the school-going child and how can the enhancement of both above-mentioned language competencies improve better thinking and learning?

Noam Chomsky viewed the acquisition of language as a swift transition from the inception stages to the age of 3,6 years of age – which claimed that most children should have typically mastered the basic structure of their language in that period. Berman (2009), however, in his research declared that language development continues well into adolescence and beyond. This language growth may be a product of incidental learning through exposure to learning materials as well as direct instruction to target specific language skills (Dockrell & Messer, 2004; Cummins & Yee-Fun, 2007).

Westby (1985) described the language journey of the young child as “in the pre-school years children learn to talk and as they move into school they talk to learn”. The notion of different language abilities required by children to function within the school system became a popular theme; school requires of a child to master social-interactive or casual language as well as academic language.  Scheele, Leseman, Mayo and Elbers, (2012: p 419) stated that the ability to use and understand academic language (AL) is a prerequisite for school success.

Van Kleeck (2014) distinguishes between Casual Talk (ST) and Academic Talk (AT) as two registers of oral language where AT is emphasised a very important readiness and predictor skill for later academic success. Cummins (1984) described the two registers as a cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP) and basic interpersonal communication skills (BICL) to explain the research results of bilingual children who were fluent in conversational skills but achieved poorly on verbal academic performance.  One can describe CT is the everyday social language used during everyday life among friends and to get things done. AT, on the other hand, constitutes the language use when one is teaching and learning, enabling teachers and other adults to convey, and children to develop and show, their ideas and knowledge. Academic language is also the language that is heard in lecture halls and found in text books.  Academic oral language should form the basis for academic written expression.

One of the major ways in which AT relates to later academic success is that it forms a critical and foundational skill to later reading comprehension, which on its own provides an essential part of school success.

The biggest challenges that parents, teachers and practitioners face are:

 … to improve the quality of Academic language skills are that the art of academic language is not directly taught to children at school level, yet it is required of learners to master both the casual language (social-interactive communication) as well as the more formalised and structurally more complex language of text books, lectures, essay writing, oral presentations, debate and public speaking. Not all children enter pre-school of school familiar with the requirements of academic language.  Van Kleeck (2014) viewed academic language as part of the hidden school curriculum – being a very important aspect of the curriculum but not taught directly or explicitly to learners.

For the learner with Specific Language Impairment (SLI) the challenges to mastering one language is already difficult, to acquire another register of academic language – not taught/instructed directly – would pose significant challenges. For the academically at risk child, it is simply unfair to wait until he is in the foundation phase to be concerned about academic language as he is already in danger to face academic challenges.

What are the best ways to overcome the challenges?

The role of the speech-language therapist, the teachers and the parents are of critical importance here.  The collaborative relationship in the pre-school class of the speech-language therapist and the teacher should be reinforced to develop and foster the use of AT in the classroom. As language practitioners speech-language therapists can make the knowledge of AT explicit to teachers at the inception of Grade R so that at-risk learners may be identified early (van Kleeck, 2014).  If teachers are made aware of the need to develop AT in young learners, the early and efficient nurturing of AT may benefit all children at risk for academic difficulties as well as those with language impairment (van Kleeck, 2014). Children who are afforded participation in classroom talk may develop a positive self-identity as a learner (Stables, 2003).

Schleppegrell (2001) stated that “many teachers are unprepared to make the linguistic expectations of school, explicit to learners”. The inclusion of instruction to foster academic language from pre-school age already should be included in teacher training. The training of teachers should include direct focus on the explicit training of academic language to children who are at risk for academic underachievement (Bunch, 2013; Cummins, 2014).

The empowering of teachers as well as parents in the instruction of academic language should be part of professional development programmes for teachers and parents at school.

The responsibility of fostering academic language so that learners may  successfully progress through school rests with:

The school system and authorities responsible for teacher training

  • Teacher training (for all phases) should include skills training to directly target tuition of academic language within the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS).
  • Teachers must make learners aware of the additional requirements of academic language
  • Teachers must teach the respective vocabulary, concepts and complex sentence structure of a specific subject explicitly

Speech-language therapists

  • Should start teaching and supporting learners with Academic language development as soon as possible in Grade R
  • Use the concepts, vocabulary and respective thinking that is required for each subject and teach explicitly
  • Teach phonological awareness (decoding for later reading) and print awareness explicitly
  • Teach higher order oral language skills to support the comprehension of more complicated reading and to enable learners to use language inferentially (van Kleeck, 2014).
  • Focus also on the process of thinking (how?, why?, what next? questions), and concentrate on metacognitive skills (teach about thinking using the appropriate terminology referring to thinking skills – ask learners to explain how they reached a conclusion, support the gradual process of reaching more complex thinking by acknowledging what is already said and prompt the learner to progress to a more complex level of thinking).
  • Focus on empowering parents with knowledge about academic language and how they can contribute to their child’s academic language competency.

Parents

  • Engage child in talk – concentrate on the explanation of how and what they are thinking about. Choose subjects that are known to the child, but also venture away to more unknown subjects to stimulate their thinking and interest.
  • Ask open-ended questions – spark creativity and higher level thinking and support the child’s thinking process by providing new and novel ideas.
  • Read to your child, have discussions about the topic, characters and the world issues in the book.

What are the most important signs that will indicate to parents, teachers and practitioners that Academic language is intact?

  • More talk
  • More complex use of oral language as well as written expression
  • Greater sentence and vocabulary complexity
  • Longer mean length of utterance
  • More elaborated language
  • More use of passives
  • More discussion and understanding of complex concepts
  • More decontextualized language
  • More meta-language use
  • Using content/subject specific vocabulary and showing understanding of concepts under discussion
  • Displaying their knowledge by explaining and using precise terms
  • Being able to describe a thinking process and use of thinking language
  • Being able to answer open-ended questions and avoiding closed set responses
  • More topic elaboration                (summarised from van Kleeck, 2014)

Visit our Tools and Research and Other Articles pages for Ms Wranz’s recommended and applicable literature sources on Academic Language.


Disclaimer for the International Association of Cognitive Education (IACE)
If you require any more information or have any questions about our site’s disclaimer, please feel free to contact us by email at info@ilearnthinking.org

Disclaimers for IACE
All the information (on our website, social media sites and e-mails) is published in good faith and for general information purpose only. Although our intent is always to provide accurate information that is theoretically sound and practically relevant, IACE does not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information you find on our website, social media sites and e-mails, is strictly at your own risk. IACE will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with the use of our website, social media sites and e-mail messages.

From our website, social media sites and e-mail messages, you can visit other websites by following hyperlinks to such external sites. While we strive to provide only quality links to useful and ethical websites, we have no control over the content and nature of these sites. These links to other websites do not imply a recommendation for all the content found on these sites. Site owners and content may change without notice and may occur before we have the opportunity to remove a link which may have gone ‘bad’.

Please be also aware that when you leave our website, other sites may have different privacy policies and terms which are beyond our control. Please be sure to check the Privacy Policies of these sites as well as their “Terms of Service” before engaging in any business or uploading any information.

Consent
By using our website, social media sites and e-mail messages, you hereby consent to our disclaimer and agree to its terms.

Update
Should we update, amend or make any changes to this document, those changes will be prominently posted here.

About Metacognition and Self-Regulated Learning (SRL): Discussion with Estelle Brettenny

Name of professional:

Estelle Brettenny

Who am I?

I am a passionate occupational therapist (B.OT. M.OT. PDME) with more than 40 years of clinical experience. I have been specializing in metacognitive therapeutic intervention and learning health for Generation Z learners (older primary school learners, high school learners and students) since 1998. I am a certified trainer in the Cognitive Enrichment Advantage (CEA) (since 1997) and Thinking Maps (since 2011) and have completed numerous courses about the development of thinking and learning. For more than twenty years, I have also been conducting extensive cognitive education training (the development of metacognition, thinking and learning) of educators and professionals in various provinces of South Africa.  I was part of the Board of the International Association for Cognitive Education (IACESA) for two decades (as President from 2013-2015), am a founding member of Thinking Schools South Africa (TSSA) and an Honorary Member of the Institute for the Advancement of Cognitive Education (IACE).  As there is a real need for individuals of all ages to adapt their thinking and learning processes to keep up and remain healthy in this ever-changing world, I am currently integrating my knowledge and experience into a user-friendly approach, the BE MORE approach, which is suited for learners, parents, educators and professionals. The BE MORE Approach incorporates a Mediational Coaching Approach, a Metacognitive Approach, a REAL Thinking and Learning Approach and a Functional Medicine Approach and is used in a variety of practical services and opportunities to empower individuals and groups.  My focus is on:  REAL Thinking and Learning to BE MORE. For more information you can visit my website: http://www.brettenny.co.za

What is Metacognition and Self-Regulated Learning (SRL) and how can it enhance better thinking and learning?

This blog will focus on Self-Regulated Learning (SRL) that is the key to move from superficial learning to deeper learning and learner autonomy. The concepts of SRL and learner autonomy have attracted a lot of attention in the past two to three decades from academic scholars and there are numerous different theories or schools of thought to explain why some learners are more successful than others.  Zimmerman (1990) outlines three key feature of definitions of SRL:

  • The systematic use of metacognitive, motivational and/or behavioural strategies;
  • A ‘self-oriented feedback’ loop in which students monitor the effectiveness of their learning methods and strategies; and
  • How and why students choose a specific strategy. Unless the outcomes of using specific strategies are sufficiently attractive, students are generally not motivated to self-regulate.

Cubukcu (2009) proposes that one of the major causes of student’s failure in their learning is the lack of self-regulation. Self-regulated learners, on the other hand, are aware of their strengths and weaknesses, can motivate themselves to engage in, and improve their learning (Guidance Report, Education Endowment Foundation, 2018). SRL will help learners to learn in their best way and to achieve academic success. It is also a life-long learning skill and essential in the work place and for life in general.

Regarding Metacognition and Self-Regulated Learning (SRL): What are some of the biggest challenges that parents, teachers and practitioners are faced by?

Based on my extensive clinical experience and work with learners, parents, educators and professionals, it is my opinion that the average professional, educator or parent are not always aware of or knowledgeable enough about the deeper meaning of self-regulated learning or how to empower learners practically to become more self-regulated.  If you do not know how to recognize a lack of self-regulated learning and/or you are not a self-regulated learner yourself, you cannot successfully help others to become more self-regulated. Literature provide evidence that support my view (Effeney, Caroll & Bahr, 2013; Rajabi, 2012; Zimmerman, 1998; Zimmerman, 2002).

The dilemma is that more and more learners are receiving extra lessons, have tutors, take medication and/or receive therapies and interventions. I have witnessed the exponential growth in the tutoring industry over the past 20 years and parents are desperately seeking help to equip their children with the skills to learn and cope academically. Many parents pay large sums of money for study method courses that do not explicitly and deliberately develop SRL and they are often disillusioned if the marks of the children do not improve. I am inundated with referrals on a daily basis of parents that have done too much for too long for their children (and cannot do it any more); or that have allowed their children to develop bad habits of thinking and learning (often unintentionally); or that are really keen to equip their children with skills to think and learn better but do not have the skills to do it themselves. The concept ‘self-regulated learning’ is seldom used to describe the needs or problems of the learners and parents are often oblivious to the reasons why their child is underachieving despite numerous interventions.  Learners often describe the reason/s for underachievement as ‘I am just lazy’ or they are described by others, as ‘lazy’ when they actually display many of the typical characteristics of underachievers (as discussed in literature). 

These characteristics of underachievers include a lack of: Goal setting and planning; time management; learning strategies; self-evaluation; seeking help or information; and self-motivational beliefs. Underachievers are also more impulsive, have lower academic goals, are less accurate in assessing their abilities, are more self-critical, less efficacious about their performance and tend to give up more easily than achievers. They are often more anxious, have a lower self-esteem, tend to be passive and require more external approval (Cubukcu, 2009; Rajabi, 2012; Zimmerman, 1990; Zimmerman, 2002).

Unfortunately there are thousands of school learners (and tertiary education students) in classrooms that lack SRL, educators are burdened by this situation but few educators effectively equip learners to learn on their own and to develop strategies for SRL. 

What are recommended ways to develop Self-Regulated Learning?

The Guidance Report on Metacognition and Self-Regulated Learning (complied by the Education Endowment Foundation) outlines 7 recommendations that can be used by primary and secondary schools (and beyond). The first two recommendations suggest that:

  • Teachers (or parents, practitioners, etc.) should acquire the professional understanding and skills to develop their learners’ metacognitive knowledge; and that
  • Teachers must explicitly teach learners metacognitive strategies, including how to plan, monitor and evaluate their learning.

A critical aspect in the development of SRL involves the use of metacognitive self-questioning and metacognitive self-talk.  Nilson (2014) refers to SRL as ‘your own little secret’.  It stirs from within you and it is the voice in your head that asks questions about your learning. Learners must be taught how to ask these kind of questions and how to use metacognitive self-talk.

A starting point for educators and practitioners (and parents) is thus to understand more about metacognition and SRL. Due to time constraints they do not always find time for research or reading about important topics.  I develop visual resources in my practice on a regular basis and these resources can also be used by parents, educators and practitioners.  As I strive to develop SRL with all my referrals as part of my metacognitive therapeutic intervention process, I have developed a visual resource for Metacognition and Self-Regulated Learning too (that links with the recommendations mentioned above and other literature sources).  This A4 laminated resource consists of a colourful visual representation on the one side and on the back is shortened guidelines about key concepts to understand and mediate the visual.  I use this resource in my work with learners to help them to become more aware and knowledgeable about SRL and the critical role of metacognitive knowledge and metacognitive regulation as part of the process. Areas that require attention can be identified and then cognitive and metacognitive strategies can be developed (Refer to the resource on Metacognition and Self-Regulated Learning and the guidelines about the key concepts).

Metacognition and Self-Regulated Learning (Visual Resource)

The visual resource has been reduced for reading purposes in this blog, but it is normally in A4 landscape format. Direct enquiries to estelle@brettenny.co.za


Visit our Tools and Research and Other Articles pages for Ms Bretteny’s recommended and applicable literature sources on Metacognititon and Self-regulated learning.


Ms Brettenny’s Contact Details are as follow:
Cell: 082 430 7956
Email address: estelle@brettenny.co.za
Physical Address:
1 A Stepping Stone Street
Everglen
Durbanville
South Africa
7550
www.brettenny.co.za


Disclaimer for the International Association of Cognitive Education (IACE)
If you require any more information or have any questions about our site’s disclaimer, please feel free to contact us by email at info@ilearnthinking.org

Disclaimers for IACE
All the information (on our website, social media sites and e-mails) is published in good faith and for general information purpose only. Although our intent is always to provide accurate information that is theoretically sound and practically relevant, IACE does not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information you find on our website, social media sites and e-mails, is strictly at your own risk. IACE will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with the use of our website, social media sites and e-mail messages.

From our website, social media sites and e-mail messages, you can visit other websites by following hyperlinks to such external sites. While we strive to provide only quality links to useful and ethical websites, we have no control over the content and nature of these sites. These links to other websites do not imply a recommendation for all the content found on these sites. Site owners and content may change without notice and may occur before we have the opportunity to remove a link which may have gone ‘bad’.

Please be also aware that when you leave our website, other sites may have different privacy policies and terms which are beyond our control. Please be sure to check the Privacy Policies of these sites as well as their “Terms of Service” before engaging in any business or uploading any information.

Consent
By using our website, social media sites and e-mail messages, you hereby consent to our disclaimer and agree to its terms.

Update
Should we update, amend or make any changes to this document, those changes will be prominently posted here.

 

About Computational Thinking: Interview with Dr Magda Kloppers

Name of scholar/expert:

Dr Magda Kloppers

Who am I?

I am a senior lecturer at the Vaal Triangle campus of the North West University in South Africa.  I am a member of Optentia, research entity on the Vaal Triangle campus in the programme:  Inclusion, Capability and Optimal functioning.  My field of scholarship is cognitive education, critical thinking dispositions, creating environments that are conducive for teaching and learning, computational thinking and Mathematics. I am currently involved in a project on High-performance learning as well as the use of videos in African languages to increase performance in Mathematics.

What is Computational Thinking, and how can it enhance better thinking and learning?

This input will focus on Computational Thinking (CT), a universally applicable attitude and skill set everyone should be eager to learn and use, considering the rapid changes and challenges posed by the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) leading to drastic changes in how we live, work and communicate. The 4IR is characterised by a fusion of technologies that ‘blurs the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres’.In the same way that Critical thinking skills and dispositions need to be taught explicitly, Computational thinking is not different.  Teachers should allow space for the development of computational thinking to teach students to think in a way that will enable them to access and understand the technologies of the future.  Four cornerstones of Computational Thinking can be identified.
Firstly, decomposition
, which invites students to break down complex problems into smaller, more straightforward problems.
The second cornerstone is pattern recognition
, which guides students to make connections between similar problems and experience.
Thirdly, abstraction invites students to identify relevant information while ignoring unrelated or irrelevant details.  Lastly, students use algorithms when they design simple steps to solve problems. These four cornerstones draw upon the concepts fundamental to computer science and the integration of technologies. One way in which CT can be advanced is through play.  A follow-up podcast will focus on the value of play to advance CT.


Figure: Image adopted from Computational Thinkers (Available online: https://www.computationalthinkers.com)

Regarding Computational Thinking, what have you found are the biggest challenges parents, teachers and practitioners face?  What are the best ways to overcome them?

Parents, teachers and practitioners should not confuse Computational Thinking with computer programming or coding, although programming and coding are some of the ways to teach CT.  In essence, CT is conceptualising a set of cognitive and problem-solving skills, and applies to many subject areas, for everyone everywhere and can be taught without a device. It is how humans think, not computers; it is a fundamental skill, not a rote skill; it is about ideas, to be creative and not the artefacts. Parents and teachers should also take the time which students can stay focused into consideration and not burden them with tasks which are beyond the concentration span of the child.  An example of where decomposition can be used is when a learner is requested to describe a scenario of planning a birthday party for girls, or a weekend camp for boys.  The learners can be assisted to break down the situation into smaller steps and guide their thinking by drawing a visual representation.

In Pattern recognition children will be able to identify commonalities between objects or experiences. Pictures of fruit and vegetables can be printed, and learners should be able to tell the differences and commonalities. Learners should be able to group the fruit and the vegetables, tell which ones are round, yellow, green, red etc. or which vegetables grow above and below the ground.  This skill can help learners to solve future problems and to make predictions about the world.

Abstraction helps learners to identify relevant and important information and sort through ideas to identify what information can be used. A story with fallacies can be told to learners, and afterwards, they should have the ability to verbalise the errors and motivate their answers.   Formulating this strategy is a valuable skill for learners to manage the overload of information and to determine what is accurate, valid and relevant.

Algorithms imply the creation of sequential rules to follow to solve a problem. Here you can ask learners to identify the steps they take when they wake up in the morning and get ready for school, or what steps they will take when they make a cup of tea or coffee.  The sequence of the actions are essential, and everything needed to perform the action should be indicated.

What are the most important signs that will indicate to parents, teachers and practitioners the successful functioning/implementation of Computational Thinking?

Daily fun and creative activities can be used to instil CT in learners.  If learners can explain their thought processes sequentially and break complex problems down into smaller steps, it is an indicator that learners have the skill of CT.  When learners can come up with different solutions for the same problem and can select the best solution, it is also an indication of mastery of the problem.


Visit our Tools, Recommended Readings and Research and Other Articles pages for Dr Kloppers’ recommended and applicable literature sources on Metacognititon and Self-regulated learning.


Dr Kloppers may be contacted at Magda.Kloppers@nwu.ac.za.


Disclaimer for the International Association of Cognitive Education (IACE)
If you require any more information or have any questions about our site’s disclaimer, please feel free to contact us by email at info@ilearnthinking.org

Disclaimers for IACE
All the information (on our website, social media sites and e-mails) is published in good faith and for general information purpose only. Although our intent is always to provide accurate information that is theoretically sound and practically relevant, IACE does not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information you find on our website, social media sites and e-mails, is strictly at your own risk. IACE will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with the use of our website, social media sites and e-mail messages.

From our website, social media sites and e-mail messages, you can visit other websites by following hyperlinks to such external sites. While we strive to provide only quality links to useful and ethical websites, we have no control over the content and nature of these sites. These links to other websites do not imply a recommendation for all the content found on these sites. Site owners and content may change without notice and may occur before we have the opportunity to remove a link which may have gone ‘bad’.

Please be also aware that when you leave our website, other sites may have different privacy policies and terms which are beyond our control. Please be sure to check the Privacy Policies of these sites as well as their “Terms of Service” before engaging in any business or uploading any information.

Consent
By using our website, social media sites and e-mail messages, you hereby consent to our disclaimer and agree to its terms.

Update
Should we update, amend or make any changes to this document, those changes will be prominently posted here.

Interview with Prof Mary Grosser, Extraordinary Professor in Cognitive Development and Critical Thinking Development

The Institute for the Advancement of Cognitive Education conducted an interview with Prof Mary Grosser; Extraordinary Professor in Cognitive Development and Critical Thinking Development at the North West University in South Africa in April 2019.  She also serves on the IACE Advisory Board. 

Prof Grosser’s interview is helpful to create a better understanding of the term cognitive education, and what the difference is between cognition and meta-cognition, and between lower-order thinking and higher-order thinking.  Understanding these basic concepts will help parents, teachers and practitioners to develop better thinking and learning.  This blog is a summary of the most important points Prof Grosser highlighted during the interview.

What does cognitive education mean?

  • Developing thinking processes (cognitive and metacognitive) in learners to help them to become independent and self-regulated learners in terms of their school work, but also to enable them to be better equipped to solve problems and make good decisions as part of daily life.
  • Teach learners to understand how their minds work.

What are the thinking competencies learners need to acquire?

  1. Lower-order: Lower-order competencies include having skills to effectively:
    – Pay attention to information: Staying alert and conscious during learning.
    – Perceive information: Using all senses to become aware of information.
    – Memorise information: Storing information for retrieval later.
  1. Higher-order competencies: Ability to apply different thinking skills tolearning (flexibility) that requires more challenging competencies to process information than merely memorising, such as comparing information, classifying information, analysing information, thinking critically about information.
  2. Feelings, dispositions, attitudes: Dispositions such aswillingness, motivation, self-confidence, inquisitiveness, accuracy, systematic working ways, empathy, responsibility, accountability, ethical conduct, skills to work with others, positive attitudes towards learning; open-mindedness, fair-mindedness, excellent communication skills, better cooperative learning skills, etc. play an important role in effective learning, and in contributing to the societies we live in.

In short, essential competencies include two things, namely the development of skills (lower- and higher-order) that involve the “head” (mind) and dispositions/feelings/attitudes that involve the “heart” (emotions).

What is the difference between cognitive and metacognitive processes?

Cognitive actions/processes involve all thinking actions that we engage in, such as making decisions, solving problems, interpret information, or responding to questions.

It is always necessary to evaluate and assess ones thinking or answers (reflect about one’s thinking) to establish if it makes sense if it is logic, meaningful and significant. This evaluation and reflection process is called metacognition.

An important aspect of metacognition is that one needs to have the skills and strategies know what to do if one’s thinking does not make sense, solve problems incorrectly, misinterpret information or responding in an incomplete way to questions.

What is the difference between teaching for, of and about thinking?

  • Teaching FOR thinking involves the creation of school-wide and classroom conditions (and home) that support thinking development. We need to make time for the teaching of thinking.
  • Teaching OF thinking focuses on the explicit instruction and modelling of thinking skills/strategies and dispositions to learners, and not just expect learners to acquire them without purposeful teaching.  For example, Teaching learners strategies to become skilled at paying better attention (lower-order skill), making comparisons (higher-order skill), working accurately (disposition)
  • Teaching ABOUT thinking helps learners to become aware of their own and others’ thinking processes (meta-cognitive processes).  Teach learners strategies to assess their own thinking and to self-correct their thinking.

Why is it important for parents, educators and practitioners to develop better thinking and learning today?

We are educating/preparing learners to cope with the challenges of the 21stcentury. The 21st-century learner needs thinking skills and dispositions to deal with the following challenges: Learning and academic challenges, personal life challenges, societal and global challenges.

The 21stCentury Learner needs skill to/to be …

Learners also need skills and dispositions to deal with the challenges of the fourth Industrial Revolution

  • Grade 1 learners of 2019 will be in Grade 12 in 2030. We do not know what the world will look like then – totally unpredictable. We need to prepare learners to do anything, not something.
  • Understanding and coping with a digitally focused life – interaction with digital media.

Conceptual Age

1990s: Working with sophisticated tools and technologies

Today: Working with information overload

 

Looking at the aforementioned, one can make the following classification of what a learner will need to cope with learning and the challenges of the 21stcentury and the fourth Industrial Revolution.

Thinking skills

(cannot be taught by computers)

Digital skills Personal skills and dispositions

(cannot be taught by computers)

Job-specific skills
Critical thinking

Problem-solving

Decision making

Digital literacy

Computer programming

Online learning

Coding

Communication

Motivation

Responsibility

Reliability

Empathy

Industry knowledge

Workplace technology

Technical skills

Teachers, parents and practitioner still need to play an essential role in mediating and modelling good thinking skills and dispositions to learners, as computers and technology cannot teach thinking skills and dispositions.

What are the most important tips you can give to parents, educators and practitioners to develop better thinking and learning?

  1. Developing thinking processes intentionally – make time for it. Developing better thinking that would contribute to better learning has to become part and parcel of daily living, also at home.
  2. Taking hands with teachers and other practitioners to reinforce and strengthen the development of better thinking and learning.
  3. Becoming knowledgeable about different tools to develop thinking competencies (skills, dispositions).