Harvard's 'Project Zero' has produced a number of excellent research projects linked to Teaching, Understanding and Thinking. It is this project that resulted in the widely applied 'Teaching For Understanding' model and 'Making Thinking Visible' set of thinking routines which many schools have adopted as a strategy for engaging deeper thinking.
A project closely linked to this is the 'Patterns of Thinking' study conducted by David Perkins and Shari Tishman. This project identifies three distinct components required for a disposition towards a particular thinking pattern; ability, inclination and sensitivity as illustrated in this example
In order to engage in an episode of open-mindedness, one has to (a) have the basic capacity to see a situation from more than one perspective, (b) feel inclined to invest the energy in doing so, and (c) recognize an appropriate occasion to be open to alternative perspectives.
Possibly the most interesting finding was that 'Sensitivity' played a critical role in contributing to intellectual behaviour. The challenge and opportunity that this presents is in finding ways to increase an individuals sensitivity to situations which require a particular thinking disposition. One strategy for this could be the linking of Thinking Routines to specific Habits of Mind and teaching students through this combination of strategies to recognise moments where both the habit and thinking routine are applicable. For school that already embed the Habits of Mind and utilise Making Thinking Visible strategies such an approach should be readily adopted.
At Rediquest.com we have constructed a site that facilitates the use of Habits of Mind and Visible Thinking Routines. Students will have experience with the Habits of Mind in class and know the habits well but do not always identify the right habit to apply to a given situation. This site helps with the process by providing more information about each habit, a short video of the habit being applied and a clear answer to the question 'When should you use it?' This site was built with input from Year Six students who worked collaboratively to identify situation where each habit would be most applicable.
Once the students have identified the habit to apply they are able to locate thinking routines that will scaffold and enhance their use of the identified habit. This resource is also used frequently as they plan a lesson with a focus on a specific habit and are seeking a thinking routine to support their learners. The end result is that the students become more sensitive to applicability of the habits and have a tool to assist them as they then apply that habit to their learning.
You can read more about this and other research conducted as part of Project Zero at: Project Zero
by Nigel Coutts