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Thinking Processes Glossary

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abstract: A theoretical idea, not concrete. Something considered apart from a particular instance.

affective thinking: Includes personal interests, attitudes, opinions, values, and emotional aspects of thinking.

analysis: Consideration of all parts of the whole or available information to reach a conclusion, inference, or generalisation which is an important part of critical thinking. The analysis process can include identification of techniques, reasons, and/or reasoning for an incident or thought.

assumption: Something taken for granted, without checking or without proof, or with limited evidence.

cognition: Process of knowing or the product of the process. Often used interchangeably with thinking.

cognitive: Refers to a mental process such as perception, memory, judgment, reasoning and problem solving.

concept: An abstract idea. When two or more concepts are linked together they can be used to form abstract generalisations and understandings, such as interdependence, relationships or wellbeing.

conceptualisation: Process of identifying or deriving a concept. A mental process creating an abstract idea.

creative thinking: Ability to imagine or invent something new or adapt another idea/object. Involves exploring ideas, generating possibilities, seeking different types of options and alternatives.

critical thinking: Ability to make a judgment, consider merit or worth, accuracy, relevance, and logic. It involves analysis, synthesis and evaluation. Other aspects of critical thinking can include metacognition, problem-framing and resolving.

deep thinking: Ability to move beyond the literal to deep understanding. The set of behaviours thinkers use include questioning, applying critical thinking, using the language of thinking, having a positive mindset to enhance their learning. See reflection and metacognition.

evaluation: Judgment of the worth or worthiness of an opinion, idea/solution or other proposition. Effective evaluation can include development and application of criteria, taking into account context, checking and testing assumptions, implications and logic, and using plausible reasons and reasoning to support opinion.

higher-order thinking: Thinking that is beyond recall and comprehension and is generally more abstract. It involves thinking skills such as analysis, synthesis, evaluation, reflection and applying knowledge to a new situation. Higher order thinking often utilises many of the other lower order thinking skills.

lower-order thinking: Generally refers to thinking at the level of recall and literal comprehension. This generally includes thinking that relies on memory rather than an opinion or creation of new ideas.

metacognition: Capacity to reflect on and manage one’s own thinking. It includes an individual's awareness, evaluation and regulation of their cognitive processes and strategies. For example, an individual’s awareness of where they are in the learning process, when individuals make judgments regarding their own thinking capacities and limitations, or when learners make use of their metacognitive skills (such as planning, self-correcting, setting goals) to direct their knowledge and thinking.

perceptions: Personal viewpoints gained from perceiving (knowledge gained through the senses) which may or may not be factual.

perspectives: Beliefs or viewpoints. These can be influenced by a personal stance, experience or context.

preconception: Opinion, idea or conception formed prior to thinking it through or investigation.

reflection: Purposeful thought, where the learner engages in active, persistent and careful consideration of ideas for a deeper understanding. Reflection is used to develop a broader and more reasoned point of view of the whole issue/big picture (to seek perspectives and omissions and remove ambiguities and assumptions). Reflection can include metacognition.

reflective thinking: Involves a range of thinking skills (for example, evaluation, analysis, synthesis) to check progress or ascertain the next steps in the thinking process.

synthesis: Creation of a whole from diverse parts. It usually involves collation of diverse ideas or thoughts to generate new ideas or give new directions in thinking. It can utilise creative thinking and conceptualisation as well as inference and deduction.

thinking behaviours: Way in which a person responds or acts cognitively such as using critical thinking, positive thinking, reflective thinking, creative thinking or having open mindedness.

thinking dispositions: Pattern of cognitive actions expressed by behaviour given certain conditions or circumstances. When a thinker tends to approach a task cognitively in a particular way such as systematically, with curiosity, self-confidence or being open minded they are demonstrating a thinking disposition. For a thinking disposition to be realised the thinker needs to have the thinking ability or behaviour and an inclination. Dispositions are context specific and are not personality traits.

thinking processes: Thinking sequence (or process) consisting of a set or series of cognitive and affective skills and behaviours that learners use. It is likely to include multiple thinking skills and dispositions.

thinking skills: Term used to refer to the specific mental/cognitive behaviours that a thinker uses (what they do in their heads) and draws upon to think effectively such as hypothesising, inferring or reasoning.

thinking strategies: Selection of particular approaches or tools such as six thinking hats or a graphic organiser for a particular purpose. When the thinker uses and/or applies a thinking strategy, they usually utilise more than one skill to help them think in a certain way or to complete a particular task. Thinking strategies are related to metacognition.

thinking styles: Describes the preferred thinking approach learners use such as being inquisitive, analytical, visual, spatial or problem solvers.

thinking tools: Describes the aids thinkers use to encourage, promote, facilitate, organise or represent their thinking. Tools can include proformas, graphic organisers, routines and ICT capabilities.


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