Friday, March 27, 2009

Analytic Skills & Comprehension

After describing memory thinking as cognition that provides “something in your head to reason about,” Sternberg, Jarvin, and Grigorenko (2009) suggest analytical skills as another type of thinking (p. 19). Analytical skills involve sorting or ordering ideas into valid schemata and are “sometimes referred to as critical thinking skills” (p. 22). Verbs associated with analytical skills include compare, contrast, sequence, organize, differentiate, identify (e.g., cause/effect), classify, categorize, combine, match, divide, and graph.

Like memory thinking and experience, analytical skills overlay nicely with Architecture of Learning’s process of comprehension. During comprehension, the brain labels and organizes data; we arrange isolated facts and examine their relationships to construct knowledge.

I disagree with the idea that comprehension or “analytical skills” equal critical thinking. I see comprehension as a precursor to evaluative, critical thinking. Comprehension enables me to see how knowledge is organized. By reviewing that organization I can assess validity, but that requires a step beyond sorting the data. However, there is a strong relationship: comprehension (or “analytical skills”) empowers critical thinking.

Again, the concept of learning as a process of varied thinking is validated. Sternberg, Jarvin, and Grigorenko (2009) suggest good instruction finds “a balance to make sure that all thinking skills can be proportionally represented throughout the curriculum” (p. 22). Architecture of Learning equips teachers to design such instruction, deepening student learning and increasing student achievement.

Up next: comparing “creative skills” (p. 35) and elaboration.

Sternberg, R. J, Jarvin, L. & Grigorenko, E. L. (2009). Teaching for wisdom, intelligence,creativity, and success. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

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