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Reading and Higher Order Thinking

Posted by Jenny Mason on 18/4/2016

In education there are levels of knowledge and understanding. There is ‘high order’ thinking and ‘low order’ thinking. Knowledge is considered a lower order thinking, it is having the facts. The higher order types of thinking are things such as evaluating, analysing etc. It is one thing to know something, another to apply it.


Reading is a habit that will increase all levels of your child’s thinking. The reason for this is reading helps people make connections. Often when you read a book (including works of fiction) you are given new concepts and words that perhaps you haven’t seen before and as a result you may ask what the word means or look it up. This expansion of vocabulary and expanding your knowledge is then applied to understanding what the book is trying to say. Reading helps students make connections.


Here is an example. Suppose a student may be ‘English’ focused and in reading a lot of fiction comes across the use of a metaphor such as a character had picked something up through ‘osmosis’. Osmosis is a scientific process that is perhaps a difficult one for the student to understand, but when the word and concept is presented by both the science teacher and then used in a different way in fiction, the student is repeatedly exposed to the meaning of osmosis, increasing their chance of ‘understanding’ it. Perhaps it will raise the student’s interest in science. Reading increases a student’s abilities in ALL subjects. Varied reading should be encouraged, everything from comic books to news stories to poetry to song lyrics to fiction. It will help them in so many ways. Read to your children. Encourage them to read for pleasure and to learn. Love of reading and books is a life-long gift and contributes to higher order thinking.

Author: Jenny Mason

Jenny Mason

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