Monday, June 9, 2008

High Order Thinking Skills (HOTS)

"According to Bloom's Taxonomy, education has four pillars — knowledge, understand-ing, skill and application. Our education system faulters at the last one and HOTS is an attempt to work on application skills of students. The aim is that students should be able to construct knowledge and that is what HOTS is all about," added Singh.

Looks all good on the paper. And the concept is most welcome too. Though our education system increases the number of brilliant students each year, when it comes to absorbing them in the current job market, the complaint is that they don’t have the application skills.

But again, what is the use if the CBSE Board keeps introducing “fixes” like these without proper planning? The board cannot be like Microsoft Corp., who loves sending “fixes” and “updates” as soon as a new product or a new version of an existing product is launched. We can live without Microsoft, if it gets unbearable, but not so the educational board which is supposed to be “fixing” the future of Indian students.

Who is this Bloom whom the Board has unearthed?

In 1956, Benjamin Bloom headed a group of educational psychologists who developed a classification of levels of intellectual behavior important in learning. Bloom found that over 95 % of the test questions students encounter require them to think only at the lowest possible level...the recall of information.

Bloom identified six levels within the cognitive domain, from the simple recall or recognition of facts, as the lowest level, through increasingly more complex and abstract mental levels, to the highest order which is classified as evaluation.

The first concern is: are the teachers trained to think along these lines? At present, when I look through the questions and answers, some of the answers are not to the point. The children are asked to memorize a full paragraph from the text itself. Even while reading it over and over, I still cannot get any clue; so imagine the plight of a student. And I wouldn’t have known this, if our lazy son had not come to me, asking me to explain the answer and reduce the number of sentences. Some teachers still love giving essays instead of concise answers. And some answers just” beat around the bush”.

The second concern: Was this new concept given enough time before it was introduced into the Board exams or were the students caught by surprise?

HOTS, as the name suggests, focuses on thinking skills and tries to move beyond rote learning. The focus of the question paper this year was to measure students' abilities to reason, justify, analyse, process and evaluate information. It was introduced only this year in class X and XII board examinations for mathematics, science and social science, the weightage being 20%.

If I heard right, most of the students were caught off guard. After all, were’t they being trained all these years just to answer the Board Exams?


  1. I too have similar concerns, especially the first one. Sometimes I feel it is all a test of memory skills of the children.

    I liked the comparison of the board with MS ;)

  2. One of friend who is a teacher tells me that the teachers are badly in want of training...

    For a sylabus like CBSE, one needs qualified teachers plus they should be trained on the job.. Since I did ICSE, Hindi is also a burden for me...

  3. I am reminded of an incident, reading this interesting and valuable post.

    My daughter when she was in 4th std used to be tortured :-)) by my wife to memorize and repeat her lessons. I decided to step in.

    Told the family that it's incorrect to study so. Took over.

    Geography was studied with Globes and Atlas. History with books borrowed from library, Science with experiments, nature walks, crawling behind insects.. Math with working on fundamental formulas and deriving all other..

    My daughter was delighted and followed me thro' grinning like a cheshire cat.

    The exams came and results announced. Previously, her grades used to be occassional "O" and majority "A".

    Sigh.... she now scored "C"s and "D"s. The teacher came down heavily that she had used her own language and concepts and had not repeated the 'teachings' of the teacher.

    I got the boot..!!!


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