Author Tay, Lee Yong
Title Using information & communication technological tools to engage students in higher-order thinking : a case study.
Institute Thesis (M.A.) (Instructional Design and Technology) National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University
Year 2002
Supervisor Lim. Cher Ping
Call no. LB1590.3 Tay
This dissertation discusses the findings of a case study of a primary school in Singapore (referred to as Young Primary School - this is a pseudo name) on the use of information and communication technological (ICT) tools to engage students in higher-order thinking.  This dissertation is part of a larger research project (referred to as the Main Research) funded by the Ministry of Education, Singapore and undertaken by Lim and his colleagues.  The aims of the Main Research are to examine and analyze where and how ICT are integrated in Singapore schools to engage students in higher-order thinking.  The focus of this dissertation is on how ICT tools, both the hardware and software aspects, can engage students in higher-order thinking.

The relevant literatures on higher-order thinking and ICT are reviewed in this dissertation.  The activity theory is used as a theoretical framework to provide important insights into the ICT integration process.  Using the activity theory as a unit of analysis, this dissertation documents the actual processes on how ICT tools are used in Young Primary School to engage students in higher-order type of thinking.  Various research methods are used.  ICT-based lesson observations, focus group interviews with students, and face-to-face interviews with teachers are conducted.  An account of how the activity systems within and between classrooms are generated.

The account identifies and describes the 4 different categories of ICT tools used to engage students in higher-order thinking.  The 4 categories of ICT tools used are : (1) Informative, (2) Situating, (3) Constructive, and (4) Communicative tools.  The implications on how these tools can be effectively used in a school environment are discussed.  The implications are as follows :

(1)  Depending on the objective of the lesson, ICT tools are used to engage students in higher-order type of thinking.  Teachers have to be clear about the objectives of their ICT lesson and the activities conducted within the lesson.  The objectives of the lesson and activities conducted within the lesson will determine how the ICT tools will be used.

(2)  Orienting activities that support learner autonomy help students to be more engaged in their learning.  These activities include introductory sessions to ICT tools, advance organizers and instructional objectives, worksheet and checklist, and ICT and non-ICT tools for post instructional reflections.

(3)  Just-in-time ICT skills training provides the necessary knowledge and skills for students to use the respective ICT tools for the purpose of learning.

(4)  There are merits in both ICT lessons that are conducted in the classrooms and the computer laboratories.  Both environments can be used to engage the students in higher-order thinking based on the instructional activities that have been planned and implemented.

(5)  ICT projects, activities, and competitions that are carried out before and after school are also used to engage students in higher-order thinking, amidst the time constraints to cover the given curriculum.

(6)  Complementary uses of different types of ICT tools.  Several tools are often used at the same time to achieve the intended instructional outcomes.

(7)  The classification of a particular type of ICT tool is not based only on its features or characteristics but also on how it is used.

(8)  Effective management of digital instructional teaching and learning resources that ensure seamless and easy retrieval supports the integration of ICT into the curriculum.