OTC Core Experience: Higher Order Thinking Logo

Higher Order Thinking

Higher Order Thinking is the development of students’ ability to distinguish among opinions, facts, and inferences; to identify underlying or implicit assumptions; to make informed judgments; to solve problems by applying evaluative standards; and demonstrate the ability to reflect upon and refine those problem-solving skills. This involves creative thinking, critical thinking, and quantitative literacy.


Creative thinking is both the capacity to combine or synthesize existing ideas, images, or expertise in original ways and the experience of thinking, reacting, and working in an imaginative way characterized by a high degree of innovation, divergent thinking, and risk taking. Creative thinking, as it is fostered within higher education, must be distinguished from less focused types of creativity such as, for example, the creativity exhibited by a small child’s drawing, which stems not from an understanding of connections, but from an ignorance of boundaries. While demonstrating solid knowledge of the domain’s parameters, the creative thinker, at the highest levels of performance, pushes beyond those boundaries in new, unique, or atypical recombinations, uncovering or critically perceiving new syntheses and using or recognizing creative risk-taking to achieve a solution.


Critical thinking is a habit of mind characterized by the comprehensive exploration of issues, ideas, artifacts, and events before accepting or formulating an opinion or conclusion. Critical thinking is transdisciplinary, and success in all disciplines requires habits of inquiry and analysis that share common attributes. Successful critical thinkers from all disciplines increasingly need to be able to apply those habits in various and changing situations encountered in all walks of life.


Quantitative Literacy (QL) is a “habit of mind” competency and comfort in working with numerical data. Individuals with strong QL skills possess the ability to reason and solve quantitative problems from a wide array of authentic contexts and everyday life situations. They understand and can create sophisticated arguments supported by quantitative evidence and they can clearly communicate those arguments in a variety of formats (using words, tables, graphs, mathematical equations, etc., as appropriate).


After completing the CORE 42, students shall demonstrate the ability to

  • recognize the problematic elements of presentations of information and argument and to formulate diagnostic questions for resolving issues and solving problems.
  • use linguistic, mathematical or other symbolic approaches to describe problems, identify alternative solutions, and make reasoned choices among those solutions.
  • analyze and synthesize information from a variety of sources and apply the results to resolving complex situations and problems.
  • defend conclusions using relevant evidence and reasoned argument.
  • reflect on and evaluate their critical-thinking processes.
Course CORE Experience
Economics Perspectives on the National Debt Assignment: As part of an assignment regarding the national debt, students read three articles, one from the perspective that the national debt is not a big deal, one that says the national debt is a disaster, and another on the European perspective on US national debt. They then write an essay outlining their views on the national debt, citing each article.  This assignment asks students to:


·         analyze and synthesize information from a variety of sources and apply the results to resolving complex situations and problems

·         defend conclusions using relevant evidence and reasoned argument

have questions?  please ask Pam Spain