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Empowering Learning with Higher Order Thinking Skills: Developing Critical Minds

Higher Order Thinking Skills in Education

Higher order thinking skills (HOTS) separate critical thinking from lower order skills like rote memorization. HOTS aligns with Bloom’s taxonomy, a popular teaching method in the industry. Here, we’ll discuss the concepts of HOTS and how Bloom’s taxonomy-based assessments are vital for students’ growth and development. 

Teaching methodologies have evolved over the years. Every teacher has their own style of teaching and imparting knowledge to students. While some teachers believe in strict traditional methods, others are more innovative. The common teaching styles or methodologies are:

• Lecture or authority style 

• Coaching or democratic style 

• Activity or facilitator style 

• Group or delegator style

• Blended or hybrid style 

The blended or hybrid teaching methodology combines different styles and concepts to make learning more engaging and interesting. HOTS is one such concept used in blended learning.

Higher order thinking skills (HOTS) is a popular concept in the education industry and is particularly associated with the higher levels of Bloom’s taxonomy (Benjamin Bloom’s six-level framework for teachers and students). 

HOTS are different from LOTS (low order thinking skills), which includes rote memorization of concepts. High order thinking focuses not on gaining knowledge but on developing the ability to understand, apply, and evaluate it. Instead of training a student to memorize pages of data, teachers work on improving the learning and analyzing skills of students. 

So what is the highest level of Bloom’s taxonomy

HOTS is all about remembering, comprehending, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating the given piece of information. The highest levels of Bloom’s taxonomy are analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Evaluation is the highest level where a student has enough knowledge and skills to judge a topic based on various parameters. 

What is Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS)?

Changing times have led to a shift from rigid teaching models to flexible learning methods that are student-centric and customizable. However, students must master lower order skills to work on their higher order abilities. After all, a student cannot analyze a piece without memorizing the concept. 

Yet, some educators feel that higher order skills like analysis, evaluation, etc., can happen at any stage and age. Some people are naturally inclined to it, while others have to be trained to use and improve their analytical skills. 

Higher order thinking skills questions can be generated using AI platforms like PrepAI. The following are some examples of higher order thinking questions:

  • Compare the poetic styles of William Shakespeare and Robert Burns.
  • Explain the differences and similarities between capitalism and socialism. 
  • How is the Pythagoras theorem applicable in real life?
  • Write a 500-word critical review of Abraham Lincoln’s famous speech. 
  • What alternative methods do you suggest to streamline healthcare in the USA? 

Types of Higher Order Thinking Skills in Education

Critical Thinking 

It is the process of judging and evaluating content based on internal and external parameters. For example, the student can judge the merit of an article by considering the author, their ideology, opinions, credentials, etc., to determine the extent of bias. 


This is the level of awareness about how to think and process information. What does the student already know about the topic? How does the latest information fit with the existing data? It helps students realize their own strengths and weaknesses in converting theoretical knowledge to practical application. 


This refers to the process of understanding the context of the content to make the necessary connections. For example, a law student should know how a law/ rule can be used to defend someone and prosecute another. 


Application of knowledge is the process of converting theory into practice. Knowing how to bake a cake is different from baking an edible and tasty cake. The application focuses on the latter. 


This is similar to critical thinking, as we cannot have without the other. Critical thinking helps students evaluate the content based on evidence and reasoning. It helps them rate a piece on the merit scale. 


It is the process of combining ideas to generate new ones that offer better results than the original ideas. The synthesis starts with brainstorming where students discuss individual ideas to connect, correlate, evaluate, and combine them to come up with the best solution. 


Inference relies on analysis and evaluation where students anticipate the possible outcome based on given information. It is a continuous process, as the results can change when information is available. 

How to Apply Higher-Order Thinking in Classroom Lesson Plans

Higher order thinking skills are pretty much interlinked with Bloom’s taxonomy six-stage pyramid. Implementing one method of learning will make it easier to seamlessly customize the process to make it more student and learning-centric. 

A few ways to incorporate HOTS in classroom lesson plans are listed below:

Determine Learning Styles 

Different students might prefer different learning styles. Teachers need to consider this information when planning their lessons to make classroom sessions more interactive and engaging. Instead of reading out from textbooks, teachers can use different materials and visuals to ensure students grasp the content with ease. 

Connecting Concepts 

Structure the topics in a way that makes it easy for students to connect them in order. For example, students should first learn how the human body’s internal system looks before they can learn about the roles of each organ. This allows students to use existing and new information to understand how the human body works. 

Incorporate Real-World Examples 

The world around us provides several scenarios that can be used to explain concepts in the classroom. For example, the Fibonacci series can be explained through snowflakes, flowers, shells, etc. This provides students with the tangible and latest information to understand difficult concepts. 

Multimedia Content 

Visual content like PPTs, drawings, pictures, graphs, AR/ VR tours, etc., make it easy for students to pay more attention to the subject. It also allows teachers to provide in-depth lessons rather than limiting them to what’s in the textbook. 

Promote Creative Thinking and Questioning 

The most important part of incorporating HOTS in lesson plans is to encourage student participation. Allow them to interact with teachers in the class and ask questions. Nudging students to come up with creative ideas will sharpen their critical thinking abilities. 

Conduct HOTS-Based Assessments 

Finally, the assessments have to be created using advanced question generators like PrepAI as it aligns with the learning methods followed in the educational institution. 

Bloom’s Taxonomy Higher Order Thinking Question Generator 

HOTS teaching has to be supplemented by HOTS assessments. PrepAI is an advanced artificial intelligence question generator platform that automatically creates question papers for the input data. The algorithm has had a Bloom’s Taxonomy update so that PrepAI can now create higher order thinking skills questions that assess students based on their analytical and evaluating skills rather than memory. 

PrepAI creates four types of questions- multiple choice (MCQs), true/ false, fillups, and descriptive questions that assess the knowledge, comprehension, application, synthesis, and evaluating skills of the candidates. This Bloom’s higher order thinking assessment method is a perfect addition to holistic and inclusive classrooms. Teachers can truly determine the strengths and weaknesses of students based on how they perform in the assessments created by PrepAI. 

With multiple input and output methods, using PrepAI is easy, convenient, and hassle-free. The automation feature saves time and allows teachers to conduct tests and quizzes at a moment’s notice.


Teachers, educators, and school administrators need to work on creating engaging classrooms that allow students to learn beyond what’s in the syllabus and improve their critical thinking and HOTS abilities.  

There’s no denying the advantages of adopting Bloom’s taxonomy and HOTS-based curricula in educational institutions. This includes assessment tools that can be easily integrated with the LMS systems.