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Skip to 0 minutes and 10 seconds And I do ask questions - many, many, many questions. And obviously, in history, the most important question is why. So my questions always start with why. Why did it happen? So these, for example, different examples, analogies, comparison - it’s very difficult for them to, yeah, use these kind of techniques. For example, compare, for example, the Soviet dictatorship with the German whatsoever. So comparison is very essential, I think. The development of these reasoning skills at the lower level - what we call LOTS, Lower Order Thinking Skills - we’d simply be asking students to recall, to remember information, to understand it, to be able to restate it, if you like.

Skip to 1 minute and 4 seconds But these lower order thinking skills, I believe, in every lesson should - in virtually every lesson - should be balanced by giving the students the opportunity to stand outside a little and look at a topic, a concept from a more personal or a more questioning point of view. Why is it like this? Is it like this everywhere?

Skip to 1 minute and 30 seconds Is this version of something better or worse than another version of something? Could I create a version of my own? Could I sit with my friends, my fellow students and maybe produce a better version or a better idea of how something could happen? But these particular cognitive skills, reasoning skills are vital in all learning because the learners need to be able to see patterns. They need to be able to identify that cause and effect is happening. And it happens in certain circumstances. In certain others - if you’re thinking science, chemistry, and so on - it won’t happen. So I’m observing this and figuring out why it’s happening now, why it’s not.

Skip to 2 minutes and 21 seconds And then moving up the scale of thinking skills, I can think to myself, well, in that case, it should happen when I do this. Or it won’t happen when I do that. All in all, what we’re doing is pushing the learners to become a little more independent, to learn a little bit about how they learn and apply that knowledge increasingly as they continue through their school careers. Apply learning strategies, perhaps, to what they’re doing. Thinking about, how should I go about solving this problem? What patterns can I see in this material that are going to help me? The learners might look at two pictures, two diary extracts, two extracts from letters.

Skip to 3 minutes and 10 seconds And they could compare and contrast - which would be fairly low order - the items. Or they could look for cause and effect, which is a bit more high order. Or I could ask them to evaluate how useful these resources are for history. So again, working from the low order, comparing, up to high order, evaluating.

Questioning to develop reasoning skills

In this video our teachers talk about higher order thinking skills and why they think it’s important to help learners to develop reasoning skills. These are the skills learners need to make decisions and they involve identifying causes and effects and making deductions before making a decision.

For example, Why do you think __ and __ are similar?

Watch the video and look at this list of thinking and reasoning skills. Which do the teachers mention?

  • Comparing and contrasting
  • Making use of prior knowledge to predict, hypothesise or work out a problem
  • Giving reasons why something happens or why something happened
  • Justifying reasons
  • Working out cause and effect
  • Thinking about alternative solutions
  • Providing missing information
  • Thinking of different strategies to solve a problem
  • Evaluating the solution to a problem

Why do the teachers think that it’s a good idea to develop learners’ reasoning skills? Compare your answers with the document below.


Which reasoning skills do you develop during your lessons?

Tell us what difficulties your learners have with these skills when learning a subject in English.

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