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Frameworks for Thinking: A Handbook for Teaching and Learning

reviewed by Erik De Corte - August 16, 2006

coverTitle: Frameworks for Thinking: A Handbook for Teaching and Learning
Author(s): David Moseley, Vivienne Baumfield, Julian Elliott, Steven Higgins, Jen Miller, Douglas P. Newton, Maggie Gregson
Publisher: Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
ISBN: 0521612845, Pages: 376, Year: 2005
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During the second part of the past century, the objectives of “education for all” have shifted from the acquisition of low-literacy skills such as computation, reading and memorized knowledge to a focus on high-literacy skills such as problem solving and critical thinking, and more recently, the self-regulation of one’s learning and thinking. In research and developmental work focused on the analysis and improvement of thinking, this trend has been paralleled among others by the development of taxonomies of thinking skills, and of frameworks or models for thinking. Starting from an extensive, systematic, and critical search of the related literature, the team of authors presents in this book a selection of 42 frameworks for thinking developed since the Second World War. From the outset, the authors state clearly that their main purpose is practical: “[W]e are more interested in how frameworks can be used than in theoretical elegance” (p. 1).

The frameworks are divided into four “families,” and within each of the corresponding chapters they are presented in chronological order. The four families are: frameworks dealing with instructional design (13 items); frameworks dealing with productive thinking (11 items); frameworks dealing with cognitive structure and/or development (11 items); and seven “all embracing” frameworks. In each family some frameworks are presented that are well-known besides others that have received less attention in the literary and educational community thus far. In the instructional design family, one encounters Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives, Feuerstein’s instrumental enrichment theory, Gagné’s types of learned capabilities, and Biggs and Collis’ SOLO taxonomy. Probably still less well-known, but nonetheless interesting, is the Anderson/Krathwohl revision of Bloom’s taxonomy published in 2001. Eyecatchers in the productive thinking group are De Bono’s lateral and parallel thinking tools, Halpern’s critical thinking skills and dispositions, and Lipman’s “Philosophy for Children.” The cognitive structure/development category is well populated with great names in the field: Piaget’s stage model of cognitive development, Guilford’s structure of intellect model, Perry’s developmental scheme, Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, and Carroll’s theory of cognitive abilities. Interesting newcomers in this family are Demetriou’s developmental model of the mind, and Pintrich’s framework for self-regulation (in four domains: cognition, motivation and affect, behavior, and context). The fourth family is called “all-embracing” frameworks because of their ambitious, broad scope trying to cover personality, thought and learning. They all include some coverage of affective and conative aspects besides the purely cognitive skills. Another common feature is their focus on metacognition and self-regulation. Best known in this category are Romiszowki’s analysis of knowledge and skills, and Sternberg’s model of abilities. Because of their broad coverage of skills, interesting newcomers in this family are Jonassen and Tessmer’s taxonomy of learning outcomes and Vermunt and Verloop’s categorization of learning activities. The discussion of each of the 42 frameworks ends with a conveniently arranged summary table.

Each framework is dealt with using three main headings: description and intended use, evaluation, and a summary in the format of a table. Taking into account the practical orientation of the volume, in describing each framework, attention is paid to the clarity of formulation, accessibility for teachers and learners, actual and potential areas of application, implications for understanding learning and teaching, and implications for practice. In the summary tables, all frameworks are considered regarding their scope and structure in terms of the following five broad categories: self-engagement, reflective thinking, productive thinking, building understanding, and information gathering.

Whereas the presentation of the frameworks is the “plat de résistance” of the book, this is preceded by a chapter on the nature of thinking and thinking skills, involving also a brief discussion of the concepts of metacognition and self-regulation in addition to the psychological, sociological, and philosophical perspectives on thinking and learning. Furthermore, the chapter touches on the important topic of “teaching thinking” and the related issue of developments in instructional design. With respect to “teaching thinking,” the authors admit that whereas domain-independent thinking skills programs, such as Feuerstein’s instructional enrichment are attractive, nowadays “approaches that embed thinking skills intenventions within a specific curriculum subject, and which appear to result in significant gains in that subject have a greater appeal” (p. 27). With regard to instructional design, the issue of the relationship between theory building and the improvement of educational practices is briefly discussed.

The final chapter of the book focuses on the potential of the frameworks presented for educational practices with respect to fostering thinking skills in students. The authors rightly argue that all “shareholders” in the education business need to have some understanding of thinking and learning, and that in this respect, thinking skills frameworks can offer the necessary lexicon of thinking and learning, thus providing a tool for good communication. The potential of the frameworks for the planning of instruction, teaching, assessment, and also research and evaluation is highlighted. A very (perhaps too) detailed discussion of possible specific applications of the different frameworks follows. But this chapter opens with the presentation of 16 kinds of principles for classifiying thinking and its outcomes that the authors identified in their analysis and evaluation of the frameworks. These principles, which appear here somewhat out of the blue, are categorized under four headings: domain (e.g., subject area), content (e.g., types of product), process (e.g., type of thinking or learning), and psychological aspects (e.g., stages of development). Not one of the 42 frameworks covers all principles; most involve the use of only two or three. However, comprehensive coverage can be more or less obtained by combining three complementary frameworks from three of the four families—namely, Pintrich’s model of self-regulated learning, Halpern’s categorization of critical thinking skills, and Anderson and Krathwohl’s revised version of Bloom’s taxonomy. It is surprising that no framework from the all-embracing family is involved here. Finally, at the end of this chapter the authors eclectically develop their own so-called integrated framework; however, they do not make explicit how it covers the 16 principles presented earlier in the chapter.

Taking into account the importance of the acquisition of thinking, learning, and problem-solving skills in all students as a major goal of today’s education at all levels, this comprehensive inventory of the most relevant frameworks, models, and taxonomies for thinking is a timely resource and useful instrument for educational professionals (especially developers of curricula and assessment instruments, textbook writers, etc.), researchers, and students. Although teachers should not be excluded from the audience of the book, it is very likely that the majority of them will prefer to be introduced to a more restricted “toolkit” of thinking skills tailored to their specific needs.  

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: August 16, 2006
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 12672, Date Accessed: 12/2/2021 9:04:33 PM

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About the Author
  • Erik De Corte
    University of Leuven, Belgium
    E-mail Author
    ERIK DE CORTE obtained the certificate of primary school teacher in 1960, and received his Ph.D. in Educational Sciences in 1970 at the University of Leuven, Belgium. He is since 1976 Professor of Educational Psychology at the same university.
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