Challenges in wide scale implementation efforts to foster higher order thinking (HOT) in science education across a whole school system

Anat Zohar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


This study explores the challenges involved in scaling up projects and in implementing policies across the whole school system in the area of teaching higher order thinking (HOT) in Israeli science classrooms. Eight semi-structured individual interviews were conducted with science education experts who hold leading positions pertaining to learning and instruction on the state level of the following school subjects: elementary and junior- high school science and technology; high-school physics; high school chemistry; and high school biology. Some of the challenges that the interviews revealed are common to many types of educational change processes. The interviews also revealed several challenges which are more specific to the educational endeavor of teaching HOT according to the infusion approach across large numbers of classrooms: challenges involved in weaving HOT into multiple, varied, specific science contents; challenges involved in planning a reasonable and coherent developmental sequence of thinking goals; the fact that content goals tend to have priority over thinking goals and thus to disperse of the latter in policy documents and in implementation processes; and finally, the considerable challenges (pedagogical and organizational) involved in developing educators' sound and deep professional knowledge in the area of teaching HOT and metacognition on a large, nation-wide scale. The data shows that wide-scale implementation of thinking in Israeli science classrooms often develops as an evolutionary rather than as a revolutionary process. The implications for designing large scale implementation programs aimed at fostering students' reasoning are discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)233-249
Number of pages17
JournalThinking Skills and Creativity
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • From policy to practice
  • Higher order thinking
  • Large scale implementation
  • Teachers' knowledge
  • Thinking strategies


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