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Strategies in Enhancing and Developing Critical and Creative Higher-Level Thinking Skills for Teachers

You must be an educator who’s thinking about how to improve your teaching skills for 21st-century learners. We, as educators, strive to become better and perfect the art of quality teaching. This necessitates the study of teaching methods. One of our goals is to develop critical thinking skills in learners.

Higher-level thinking allows learners to excel and achieve intellectual freedom as they are helped to find solutions to everyday questions they may find that may affect their lives and the lives of others.

As educators, we find ourselves coping with the demands of learning. We need skills and strategies to respond to the challenge of instructions beneficial for us: educators and learners.

Alic Thomas enumerates various strategies we can use to enhance higher-level thinking skills. The “30 Strategies for Enhancing Higher Order Thinking Skills” helps us develop critical thinking skills in learners.

These are:

  1. Take the mystery away – helping learners understand their capabilities and abilities.
  2. Teach the concept of concepts – helping learners determine concepts.
  3. Name key concepts – helping learners distinguish concrete, abstract, verbal from non-verbal processes.
  4. Categorize concepts – helping learners decide on concepts
  5. Tell and show – helping learners learn by expressing themselves.
  6. Move from concrete to abstract and back – helping learners by using factual materials.
  7. Teach steps for learning concepts – helping learners to use a multi-step process in learning concepts.
  8. Go from basic to sophisticated – helping the learners grasp concepts for better understanding.
  9. Expand discussions at home – involving parents and guardians in discussions.
  10. Connect concepts – helping learners connect what they have learned to everyday concepts.
  11. Teach inferring – helping learners conceptualize real-life situations.
  12. Teach Question-Answer Relationships (QARs) – a technique (Raphael 1986) that teaches how to label types of questions.
  13. Clarify the difference between understanding and memorizing – helping learners understand conceptual contents rather than memorizing.
  14. Elaborate and explain – helping learners create analogies and give real-life examples.
  15. A picture is worth a thousand words – helping learners associate images and concepts.
  16. Make mind movies – helping learners become imaginative.
  17. Teach concept mapping and graphic organizers – helping learners create concepts by creating mindmaps.
  18. Make methods and answers count – helping learners identify methods to use.
  19. Methods matter – helping learners justify their actions in solving problems.
  20. Identify the problem – helping learners to solve problems by identifying steps.
  21. Encourage questioning – helping learners to ask questions back.
  22. Use cooperative learning often – helping learners with their comprehension and reading strategies.
  23. Use collaborative strategic reading – engaging learners in reading at the same time.
  24. Think with analogies, similes, and metaphors – helping learners by using analogies, similes, and metaphors.
  25. Reward creative thinking – appreciating learners’ creativity and skills.
  26. Include analytical, practical, and creative thinking – helping learners increase their understanding by including analytical and thinking activities.
  27. Teach components of the learning process – helping learners become conscious in the process of learning.
  28. Actively teach metacognition – helping learners with their asset of skills and knowledge. 
  29. Consider individual evaluation, and
  30. Make students your partners – learners bring practical and effective strategies, too. 

Another way to improve critical and creative thinking skills is by using metaphors called, “Put on your thinking hat,” by Dr. Edward de Bono. 

De Bono reminds us that thinking is a skill that can be improved (Psychology Today) – it is a hat metaphor with six colors to create a strong thinking technique. 

6 Hats
Six Thinking Hats – A Key That Unlocks Lateral Thinking – GiLE Foundation. (2022). Retrieved 28 March 2022, from

The Six Hats are described in this section and provide a basis for learning and applying them to your curriculum. As you read the descriptors, think of questions and student tasks connecting your content with the HATS processes. To add depth the HATS are applied on four dimensions, the (1) text (2) student’s life (3) community and (4) world. – The Thinking Behind the Six Hats with Connections to Bloom’s Taxonomy

This tool promotes quality thinking and communication for learners and educators. This tool helps create a fun and meaningful experience to help concentrate in thinking and communication, improve comprehension, and develop autonomy, leadership, and collaboration.


The different strategies are very helpful in developing higher-level thinking skills, not only for me but also for my learners. 

These remind me of the importance of applying various strategies that enhance learners’ participation, learning, and developing creative and critical thinking. Knowing my own abilities, capabilities, and skills as an educator, helps me to evaluate my own strengths and the challenges I face every day in the classroom. Understanding myself is the first step in how can I plan and implement effective teaching strategies that are helpful to everybody.

I find myself a person who loves to draw maps. I always find mind-mapping as a very helpful tool in order for me to create a larger picture of a concept. With mind-mapping, it enables me to start from a very specific concept that allows me to go through different points during discussion without getting away from the main objective and concepts.

In teaching, I always find myself “wearing” the “BLACK HAT.” I always find myself prudent and a little bit of “an antagonist. I don’t find myself as a negative person, but I am just a person who finds “what if” situations as helpful in finding solutions or answers to particular situations that call for deeper and critical thinking.

Through the “Six Hats,” learners will be able to find and apply their own strengths in learning. Learners visualize themselves in colors, and by visualizing, they will be able to focus and create a higher level of critical and creative thinking. 

My learners learn to be inquisitive and develop a passion for a higher level of learning.

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