HIGHER ORDER COGNITION


  1. THE IMPORTANCE OF HIGHER-ORDER COGNITION
    1. Enables students to grapple with intellectually sophisticated challenges
    2. Enables students to integrate multiple ideas and facts
    3. Enables students to undertake difficult problems
    4. Enables students to find effective and creative solutions to dilemmas
    5. Reduces the burden on memory and attention to detail


  2. INTERRELATED DIMENSIONS OF HIGHER-ORDER COGNITION
    1. Concept Formation
      1. Concepts are groupings of facts, attributes, steps in a process, or ideas that commonly go together
      2. There are several types of concepts
        1. Concrete concepts - can be seen, touched, heard, or felt
        2. Abstract concepts - no actual sensory characteristics (Example: concept of due process in government)
        3. Verbal concepts - most often thought about with language (Example: concept of "democracy")
        4. Nonverbal concepts - lend themselves to visualization (Example: concepts of proportion)
        5. Process concepts - describe a mechanism or phenomenon in which critical features of the concept are actually steps in a process (Example: concept of internal combustion)
      3. Prototypes
        1. A perfect example of a concept is called a prototype of the concept
        2. A nonprototype fits the concept but is not an ideas example of it
      4. Children vary in the extent to which they are able to grasp concepts
        1. None - no understanding whatsoever of a particular concept or even of concepts in general
        2. Partial - tenuous grasp of the concept
        3. Echoic - able to repeat the concept as it was told without truly comprehending it
        4. Resynthetic - able to describe the concept in one's own words
        5. Extendable - can perform a number of important operations on the concept
        6. Manipulable - can manipulate the concept's contents
        7. Innovative - can apply concepts in novel manners, in valid ways that they have not actually been taught
      5. All students encounter problems with some concepts at some points in their academic lives. This is normal.
    2. Dysfunctions of Concept Formation
      1. Chronic tenuosity (partial grasp)- children may proceed through their education with only minimal grasp of concepts
      2. Overreliance on rote memory (echoic grasp) - students may seek to compensate for their dysfunctions by deploying memorizations and imitation as substitutes for understanding
      3. Poor conceptual comprehension monitoring - students may fail to understand that they don't understand concepts
      4. Problems with verbal concepts - students have difficulty with highly verbal concepts
      5. Problems with nonverbal concepts - students have difficulty with concepts that need to be thought about without much infusion of language
      6. Trouble with processing concepts - problems linking a sequence of steps to a process and an outcome
      7. Content-specific conceptual difficulties and strengths - trouble forming concepts only within a circumscribed content area
      8. Trouble communicating concepts (resynthetic) difficulty expaining the concepts in their own words
      9. Excessively concrete conceptualization - difficulty rising above the level of concrete concept formation
    3. Problem Solving
      1. Effective problem solving requires an individual to slow down and think through a challenge in a deliberate and systematic fashion
      2. There are strong ties between problem-solving skills and the appropriate functioning of attentional production controls
      3. Proceeds systematically, rather than in a random fashion, following a number of ciritical steps
        1. Knowing a problem when you see it
        2. Stating the problem in its entirety
        3. Recognizing patterns
        4. Using prior knowlege
        5. Previewing the outcome
        6. Assessing feasibility
        7. Invoking stepwisdom
        8. Researching
        9. Considering alternative strategies
        10. Selecting the best strategy (without forgetting the others)
        11. Regulating the internal voices
        12. Pacing
        13. Monitoring progress
        14. Dealing with impasses
        15. Knowing when the problem is solved
        16. Projecting future application
    4. Dysfunctions of Problem Solving
      1. Often dysfunctions in other neurodevelopmental constructs (attention, memory, etc) can compromise the individual steps required for problem solving
      2. Common difficulties
        1. Weak attention controls
        2. Trouble with memory demands
        3. Lack of prior knowledge
        4. Temporal sequential disorganization
        5. Cognitive regidity
        6. Language difficulties
        7. Modality or domain-specific problems
        8. A lack of explicit awareness of the problem-solving process
    5. Rule Development and Utilization
      1. The more rules make sense, the more they are a comfortable part of the higher-order cognitive repertoire of a child and the more readily and effectively they will be applied to tasks
      2. In most cases, acquisition of rules follows a fairly predictable pattern
        1. Gueswork and trial and error
        2. Formal teaching of rules
        3. Overapplication of rules
        4. Consistent application of rules
      3. Children may discover various rules at different ages
    6. Dysfunctions of Rule Use
      1. Children vary considerably in their capacities to understand, assimilate and apply rules and regularity
      2. Slowness, vagueness, or obliviousness in appreciating and applying rules can seriously handicap children
      3. Children who experience difficulty acquiring and applying rules are apt to experience their most serious academic lags in those subject areas that most depend on systems of rules
        1. Learning grammar in their native language and assimilating grammar rules in a second language
        2. Spelling accurately
        3. Succeeding in mathematics
        4. Fully understanding and complying with rules of discipline
        5. Making good use of personal and academic experience to develop personal rules that can simply work and lessen the burden on memory
        6. Developing efficient problem-solving skills
    7. Analogical Reasoning
      1. The ability to form and understand analogies has been used as a marker of higher cognitive development
      2. The capacity to reason using analogies is related to the ability to draw inferences from what is read or discussed in class
      3. Analogy formation can greatly facilitate comprehension
    8. Dysfunctions of Analogical Reasoning
      1. Trouble dealing with or developing analogies may seriously limit comprehension
      2. Students with difficulty forming analogies may find that what they have learned is fragmented and unconnected, as they have trouble discerning the recurring themes or ideas in their educational experience
      3. Students with weakness of analogy formation may also have trouble forming concepts and other forms of language dysfunction
    9. Classification Skills
      1. Children's ability to classify objects and words improve with age
      2. During elementary school, children become far more consistent; they use particular criteria for grouping and maintaining them consistently
      3. Cognition and language converge when wrods, rather than objects, are sorted
      4. Conceptual sorting is thus highly relevant to remembering in school
    10. Dysfunctions of Classification
      1. Some students exhibit deficiencies in classifying and categorizing
      2. A child with weak sense of classification may have problems learning the parts of speech
      3. Children who have trouble classifying information have some of their greatest difficulties with the use of long-term memory in school
    11. Divergent/Creative Thinking
      1. The capacity to elaborate, to discover unusual similarities or analogies, to link ideas in new & different ways
      2. Often a component of giftedness
      3. linked to associative fluency: ability to form rich associations
    12. Dysfunctions of Divergent/Creative Thinking
      1. Children vary markedly in their development of divergent thinking
      2. Probably does not make sense to think in terms of a disorder of divergent thinking
      3. Educators should try to seek variety of mediums to encourage creativity in all children
    13. Metacognition
      1. Inactive learners have metacognitive weakness
        1. Unaware of how they think and are unable to use strategies/skills
        2. Rarely monitor or regulate thinking
        3. Difference between poor readers and inactive learners
          1. poor readers don't have strategies
          2. inactive learners don't know when to use strategies
    14. Dysfunctions of Metacognition - children with metacognitive problems:
      1. Show inflexibility in academic work
      2. Lack knowledge for self-monitoring
      3. Cannot understand what is expected and therefore do not use strategies to understand/remember material
      4. Have little awareness of the writing process


  3. OTHER VARIATIONS FOR HIGHER LEVEL COGNITION
    1. Concrete and Formal Operations--Piaget
      1. Concrete Operations- concrete: physical parts of life; operations: mental activities which give a fluid understanding of time, space, amount, etc
      2. Formal Operations- operate on symbolic ideas
        1. explore predictions adstractedly, not having to try each idea
          1. logical reasoning
          2. multiple hypothesis
          3. check possible solutions
          4. operating on operations: organize single operations to higher ones, allow for different parts simultaneously
        2. Become less reliant on observations and better at using principles and generalizations
    2. Cognitive Preferences- prefer one method over others, especially elem. school
      1. Verbal/nonverbal preference - some children use higher cognition for linguistic, but not nonverbal pursuits, or vice versa
      2. Academic content variation - can be influenced by motivation, practice, role models, opportunities
      3. Intelligence varies from area to area -
        1. Multiple intelligences theory: linguistic, musical, logical/mathematical, spatial, bodily kinesthetic, and personal intelligences
        2. Steinberg's triarchic theory: 3 general areas, can be uneven
          1. componential intelligence: metacognition strategies ability to think critically and plan
          2. experiential intelligence: insightful and creative, strong in selective encoding (getting important information), selective comparison (ideas in different ways), and selective combination (many facts into new categories)
          3. contextual intelligence: adaptation, flexibility
          4. refer to pp. 239 for examples of strength in one area
    3. Hidden Curriculum: how to figure out expectations, know what is required, discern the proper approach to satisfying requirements, and read between the lines regarding what it takes to please teachers.
      1. Some children are quite clever at playing this academic game and altering performance to meet these expectations without unnecessary effort
      2. Awareness of the hidden curriculum requires massive strategic planning and problem-solving


  4. GIFTEDNESS
    1. Gifted: high aptitude (IQ tests), well focused area of academic ability, creativity, leadership, and talent in the arts Ability to exceed expectations in at least one area
    2. Common Traits of Gifted Children
      1. High score on an intelligence test
      2. Creativity
      3. Crystallized abilities - a high level of performance in at least one area
      4. Talent - extraordinary higher cognitive function in one's chose subject area (music, art, etc.)
    3. Terman Study: most comprehensive study of gifted
      1. They show persistence, motivation, goals, are successful socially
      2. They were superior in reading and language abilitiies, math reasoning, scientific aptitude, literary skills, and artistic inclinations
      3. They were not specially gifted in spelling, factual information, history or arithmetic computation
    4. Gifted Underachievement - causes of underachievement include:
      1. ADD
        1. Like other students with ADD in task incompletion, inattention to detail, salient informational difficulties, distractibility
        2. *Levine says they are generally more manipulative and rationalize underachievement
        3. Defiant, indifferent, have other things on their minds
        4. Need lots of activity that is motivating to stay alert
        5. rapid idea fluency who cannot concentrate and discipline thinking
        6. Demystification, crystallize abilities, help them function when it is less motivating; counseling, confrontation, and behavior modification for avoidance
      2. Uneven development:
        1. Some children are gifted in some areas, below average in others
        2. The below average areas lead to underacheivement, and the giftedness is missed.
      3. Environmental/cultural: home life is not focused on academic
      4. Psychological disturbances: some underachievers have low self esteem, depression, negative self concept
      5. Peer pressure: dumbbing down to peer level to be accepted
      6. Understimulation: too much repetition
      7. Temperamental factors which inhibit productivity
      8. Pseudointellectualism and therefore pseudounderachievement: fluency without comprehension, teacher-pleasers


  5. ASSESSMENT OF HIGHER-ORDER COGNITION
    1. Clinicians must search for recurring themes and bits of evidence that reveal strengths and weaknesses
    2. Some of this evidence occurs during standardized testing. However, assessment of higher order cognition comes from everyday observations in natural settings
    3. For a set of questions which can guide educators when assessing thinking skills in the following areas, see Levine, p. 246-248.
      1. Concept Formation
      2. Problem Solving
      3. Rule Development
      4. Analogical Reasoning
      5. Classification
      6. Divergent/Creative Thinking
      7. Metacognition
    4. Standardized testing
      1. Assessments of verbal cognition
        1. WISC-III assesses verbal conceptual ability and analogical thinking
        2. Detroit test of Learning Aptitude has a subtest where students determine similarities and differences.
        3. Boehm Test of Basic Concepts - the examiner reads aloud statements describing 50 pictures. The concepts covered are quantity, number, time and space.
        4. The Woodcock-Johnson Test of Cognitive Ability has a subtest which examines concept formation in such a way that is uncontaminated by memory
      2. Assessment of Nonverbal Cognition
        1. WISC-III has a block design subtest which assesses the subjects ability to form concepts and solve problems in the nonverbal domain.
        2. Progressive Matrices (Raven, 1960) are nonverbal analogies in which the student decides relationships between between pictures
        3. Thorndike and Hagen's (1978) Cognitive Abilities Test includes a test of seriation. These tests assess the child's inferential thinking and ability to generate rules.
      3. Assessment of problem solving strategies
        1. Meltzer (1984) developed a problem solving assessment which observes the entire problem solving process. This test uses both verbal and nonverbal items in order to see how students plan and organize, and how flexible they are in employing new strategies.
        2. The Wisconsin Card Sorting Test is used to evaluate children's flexibility and judgment during problem solving
      4. Assessment of creative thinking
        1. Historical evidence should be relied on most when looking at creative thinking.
        2. The Torrance Test of Creative Thinking measures flexible and divergent patterns.
    5. Assessment of interactions between higher-order cognition and other neurodevelopmental constructs
      1. Attentional dysfunction my impede problem solving by causing a child to use a frantic approach without considering alternatives of self-monitoring.
      2. Spatial ordering problems lead to problems with nonverbal concept formation due to impaired mental imagery to reinforce concepts or analogies
      3. Temporal sequential ordering problems leads to to a weak wisdom for steps of problem solving
      4. Language dysfunctions lead to difficulty forming verbal concepts and verbal problem solving challenges such as writing a poem.
      5. Memory dysfunctions can impede concept formation in active working memory, problem solving can be compromised due to problems with pattern recognition and/or active working memory.


  6. MANAGING HIGHER-ORDER COGNITION
    1. All students need help with higher-order thinking and there are certain principles that pertain to all content areas.
    2. A new challenge in education is to help the development of metacognition, greater conscious use of problem solving strategies, and the effective use of higher processes such as inferring, analogizing, and categorizing.
    3. Styles of Learning vs. True Disabilities
      1. A child who is better at nonverbal tasks should be encouraged to strengthen and use that cognitive pathway
      2. A child who is better at verbal problem solving should be encouraged to talk through situations.
      3. Children who are overly concrete will benefit from interventions of the conscious building of metacognition.
    4. Higher-Order Cognition Training
      1. Feuerstein's "theory of cognitive modifiability" gives students situations which are presented multiple times.
        1. Students start to learn the steps they are taking to solve these problems
        2. The goal is the take a passive problem solver and make them and active one
        3. This model helps children develop schemata and good learning habits.
      2. Meichembaum (1977) helps develop higher-order cognition through training called cognitive behavior modification which involves direct enhancement of metacognition.
        1. In cognitive modeling, the children observes and adult performing a task
        2. Then the student is externally guided on the same task by the modeler.
        3. In faded over self guidance, the child whispers the directions to himself
        4. Lastly, covert self instruction has the child use inaudible or silent speech to perform the task.
    5. General Management Principles
      1. Encourage students to elaborate and explain rather that repeat facts
      2. Stress the right method of accomplishment rather than the right answer. Help them recognize the right answer and become problem solving strategists.
      3. Help students think about problem solving and rules by creating a Problem Solving Planner for the tasks they perform.
      4. Students need to start at concrete, move the abstract, and then move back to concrete again to see the correlation.
      5. Children need to learn to develop concept mapping. Children can first use pre-created maps and store the information in them.
      6. Make sure and student has mastered and assimilated a concept rather that memorized
      7. If they cannot fully understand a concept, it is difficult to move on and learn more.
      8. Teachers need to model and actively teach metacognition so students can learn to incorporate strategies (scanning, long division) and understand various learning and thinking processes.
      9. Use reading materials to teach cause and effect and fact and opinion
      10. Encourage and help children use analogies whenever possible
      11. Children need to develop classification skills. Start to develop them in their own area of expertise.
      12. Reward children for "far-out" thinking and encourage imaginary play. Deter children with higher-order thinking problems to involve themselves in passive activities.
    6. Assessing and Managing Strengths
      1. Specific strengths are important in helping children who are struggling with higher-order cognition.
      2. Children need to rules emphasized and well conceptualized
      3. Some children with attention deficits are good at higher-order thinking, this is many times what helps them succeed.
      4. Children can have good higher-order thinking skills in certain areas, but have higher-order thinking deficits in other areas
      5. In the diagnostic search, it is important to find where higher-order thinking is best and where there needs to be interventions.