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Thinking Processes – Relationships with other domains

Introduction | The Arts | Civics and Citizenship | Communication | Design, Creativity and Technology | English | Health and Physical Education | The Humanities – Economics | The Humanities – Geography | The Humanities – History | Information and Communications Technology | Interpersonal Development | Language Other Than English (LOTE) | Mathematics | Personal Learning | Science | Show All


This advice identifies how concepts and skills from the Thinking Processes domain are an integral part of student learning across the curriculum. It provides a starting point for teachers to consider opportunities for developing student activities that incorporate these essential knowledge and skills.

The Arts

Through engagement in the Arts students have the opportunity to develop a range of cognitive and affective thinking skills and attributes. Arts processes assist students to understand, appreciate and reflect on their knowledge and experience developing their capacity for metacognition. The Arts focus on the development of the higher-order Thinking Processes required for creative problem solving, decision making and conceptualising, while systematically developing students’ capacities to reflect upon and manage their own thinking. Students apply critical thinking and analysis to information and experience and consider the possibilities raised through various art forms. They learn to take risks when generating and developing ideas, seeking, inventing and testing innovative alternatives.

The Arts stimulate creative thinking, combining it with cognitive, physical, emotional, kinaesthetic and affective ways of operating. Creativity and the stimulation of the imagination enable the exploration of perceptions and possibilities.

Civics and Citizenship

The Thinking Processes domain provides students with strategies which enable them to access, process, evaluate, reflect on and present their knowledge and understanding of Civics and Citizenship. Students explore the community around them; seek evidence for explanations, and order and sequence ideas. They progressively use a wider range of sources in investigating the origins and current aspects of Australian democracy, contemporary issues and the role of citizens. They develop skills in collecting and organising ideas from a range of sources, questioning sources and recognising diverse points of view. They transfer knowledge from one context to another; for example, by comparing historical struggles for political rights with contemporary issues. They learn to evaluate points of view and provide reasons for their thinking, and recognise and accommodate alternative points of view in a diverse society. They recognise gaps in understanding and evidence, identify strategies for gathering further evidence, analyse the relationships between ideas, and synthesise information.


Thinking Processes strategies assist students to become effective communicators within and beyond school. Students use critical thinking skills to identify, interpret and evaluate meanings in different contexts using a variety of mediums. These strategies enable students to reflect and become more discriminating of their own and others’ ideas. They use questions to clarify messages and to identify strategies used by the author to convey meaning. As students move from discrete thinking skills to higher order processes they are able to communicate complex ideas in a variety of ways with increasing sophistication. Students become adept at choosing the best vehicle for communicating messages. They use thinking tools to gather data and plan effective communication strategies and content. Through reflection and evaluation of the effectiveness of their thinking processes and strategies students become more successful communicators.

Design, Creativity and Technology

The use of creative thinking is integral to designing. The application of decision making, problem solving, experimenting, inventing and investigative thinking methods will be required depending on specific tasks.

In subjects or units of work that focus on Design, Creativity and Technology, students generate and test ideas/options in response to problems or challenges posed. They experiment with ideas, apply imagination and develop innovative solutions. The capacity of students to apply thinking processes flexibly, appropriately and comprehensively will in many instances determine the effectiveness of their design and production outcomes.

When defining tasks and generating solutions, students increasingly take managed risks. They develop and apply criteria to measure the effectiveness of their solutions and processes. They reflect on and make decisions about their design ideas and production work often in collaboration with others.

As they progress through the levels their decision-making processes become more complex. Students develop metacognitive skills by reflecting on and articulating their thinking processes including changes in their thinking. They consider alternative solutions and processes that could be applied to improve their learning and the product and processes.


English is central to students’ ability to progress from concrete and discrete thinking skills, through to more abstract concepts and processes. The English domain is centred on the conscious and deliberate study of language in a wide variety of spoken, written and visual texts. Students learn about the ways in which language shapes and reflects attitudes in different times and places. They are introduced to critical approaches to the ideas and thinking in texts. They develop critical understanding about the ways writers and speakers control language to influence listeners, readers and viewers. Strategies for developing and framing thinking processes which may be used in English include the framing of logical argument in for instance debating, and interpreting texts using for instance the ‘pluses, minuses and interesting (PMI)’ tool, ‘six thinking hats’, or any of the mind-mapping frameworks.

Language and thinking processes are closely related. Spoken and written language is a representation of thought, offering a medium for developing increasingly complex processes of thought in a variety of forums. Vocabulary, and the flexible use of it, is an expression of a student’s expanding ability to think in increasingly complex ways. Speaking and listening provides the opportunity for sharing thoughts, questions and answer, presentation and response, creativity and possibility.

Students use critical thinking to analyse and evaluate information, and to develop opinions based on informed judgments in each dimension of the English domain. They develop the capacity to reflect on and refine their existing ideas and beliefs.

Students develop metacognitive skills in planning, monitoring and evaluating their own thinking processes as they engage in the process of creating their own texts in English.

Health and Physical Education

Health and Physical Education (HPE) classes can provide students with challenging tasks, which stimulate, encourage and support skilful and effective thinking processes. Students learn to question and assemble information and develop lifestyle behaviours based on informed judgments.

The thinking processes of problem solving and decision making underpin the pedagogy of teaching Health education. There is recognition of the diversity of views on health issues and the need to evaluate the accuracy of various sources of health information.

Physical education curriculum involves students analysing skills, planning strategies for improvement, predicting the outcomes of strategy or tactic and evaluating their own or their team’s success.

HPE provides the opportunity for students to demonstrate thinking processes through:

The Humanities – Economics

In Economics, students are encouraged to develop a range of strategies related to the Thinking Processes domain. For example, students:

The Humanities – Geography

The study of human behaviour requires the application of a range of thinking skills. In the early years, students apply them in a discrete manner to a specific set of tasks. As students mature and become capable of managing more abstract information, they use these skills to analyse and form patterns and theories about people, environments and societies, developing an understanding that is more conceptual.

Through developing research skills, students use open-ended questions, developing their ability to question the relevance of, synthesise and apply information. They use thinking strategies and tools to organise information and provide reasons for their position on an historical event. They use their conceptual understandings to develop formal processes that can be used to create definitions, make predictions, devise and/or test theories and form beliefs.

The Humanities – History

The Thinking Processes domain provides students with processes and strategies which enable them to inquire into the past, present possible historical explanations and reflect on their understandings. In the study of History students progressively use a wider and more complex range of historical sources to investigate and develop understanding of the past. They learn to seek and use evidence about the past to justify their interpretations and make links between the past and the present. Through the Reasoning, processing and inquiry dimension, students develop systematic inquiry skills and the ability to critically question sources of evidence about the past. Through Creativity they propose solutions to historical questions based on their reading of the evidence. Through Reflection, evaluation and metacognition students reflect on what they know about the past, learn to question their own and other explanations and learn to monitor their own investigations.

Information and Communications Technology

In Information and Communications Technology (ICT), students create visual representations of the thinking strategies they use when solving information problems. Early in their learning, students are scaffolded through templates that they modify, to assist them in developing skills in using ICT for visualising their thinking. These representations are later referred to as evidence or records of their thinking processes. When solving similar problems in different contexts, students retrieve the records and modify them for use in the new context. Over time, students use these records to reflect on and refine their thinking strategies. They explain how visualising their thinking helps them to understand concepts, relationships and processes and to formulate and organise ideas.

Interpersonal Development

Skills in interpreting social situations, relationships and contexts relate closely to the development of thinking processes. Young students build their capacity to reason from their social relationships and from working cooperatively as part of a team. They learn to reflect on personal values and beliefs, as well as the values and beliefs of others, with greater insight as they develop thinking skills such as observation, questioning, comparing, reflecting and deducting.

Formulating questions is a strategy that students can use to focus or direct their thinking. Key questions that relate to concepts and skills in the Interpersonal Development domain might include:

Language Other Than English (LOTE)

Bilingualism enhances thinking skills in several ways. Research has shown that learners who gain a high level of skill in two languages gain advantages in various kinds of thinking. Convergent thinking, divergent thinking, and metalinguistic awareness are stimulated directly by high-level language skills. Even lower levels of language skill, and in some cases the mere study of a second language, can assist learners with early reading, with reasoning and with reflection.


Mathematical reasoning and thinking underpins all aspects of school mathematics, including problem posing, problem solving, investigation and modelling. It encompasses the development of algorithms for computation, formulation of problems, making and testing conjectures and the development of abstractions for further investigation. Computation and proof are essential and complementary aspects of mathematics that enable students to develop thinking skills directed toward explaining, understanding and using mathematical concepts, structures and objects.

Thinking strategies and tools are used extensively in mathematics. As students progress in their learning they move from using concrete thinking skills to applying higher order processes to their learning. Students are encouraged to take managed risks in developing possible alternate approaches to problems and tasks. Curiosity has an important role to play in stimulating mathematical inquiry, while reflection and metacognition are important components of the problem-solving process in which new and often creative approaches are required to find solutions.

Personal Learning

One of the fundamental Thinking Processes successful learners must develop is to reflect on learning, to link new knowledge to existing knowledge, to establish what is true and accurate, important and useful, and to challenge what is untrue and inaccurate.

In this sense, metacognition is central to both the Personal Learning and Thinking Processes domains. Creating, applying and evaluating processes that act as a commentary on learning are central to cognitive development.


In all aspects of their work in Science students are expected to reflect on the thinking and processing strategies they employ. Science draws on the strategies of the Thinking Processes domain to assist students in developing skills supporting inquiry, information processing, reasoning, problem solving, evaluation and reflection.

Students begin their investigations through inquiry, which leads to making simple observations where they collect, categorise, compare, map, visualise and speculate. As they begin to develop ideas of fair testing and to consider scientific methods, they formulate hypotheses and design experiments to test their validity through representation, induction, deduction and evaluation.

They are able to consider and evaluate different points of view and can transfer knowledge from familiar to unfamiliar situations. Their practical investigations are underpinned by the development of a deep understanding of the fundamental concepts of science related to matter, energy, time and space.

Further development of thinking skills enable students to become more effective in critiquing their experimental design and methodology, including their analysis of error. Increasingly, students will rely on applying investigative, problem solving, experimental and inventive techniques to create solutions to problems, requiring the application of critical and creative thinking skills. Based on a careful consideration of evidence collected from various sources, students will feel confident to debate the merits and problems of contentious and/or ethically based issues of broad community concern.

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