Thinking Skills

What is Thinking Skills?
Thinking Skills is a subject dedicated to the area of the brain that is not used for remembering facts, but is instead used to process information. It is a mandatory three hour a week course at KYS International School where students are required to use the power of their own brains to come up with solutions to problems and understand and create formal arguments.

Thinking Skills develops a specific set of intellectual skills, independent of subject content, reflecting the need voiced by universities and employers for more mature and sophisticated ways of thinking. The Thinking Skills syllabus also enables students to approach their other subjects with an improved ability to understand, analyze and resolve problems.

As a result, students will find the course of great benefit when preparing for higher education, particularly for a career in medicine, but also for a wide range of other careers, including law, scientific research, social science, journalism, business, accounting and engineering. The Thinking Skills syllabus encourages free and open debate, critical and investigative thinking, and informed and disciplined reasoning.

Description if Subject

Thinking Skills involves the learning of a specific set of intellectual skills independent of subject content. This reflects the need to encourage students to develop more mature and sophisticated ways of thinking. By taking a course in Thinking Skills and applying these skills to their wider academic learning, it is hoped that students will approach their other subjects with an improved ability to understand, analyze and resolve problems.

Students will find Thinking Skills of great benefit in preparation for higher education and a wide range of careers, including the fields of law, scientific research, social science, journalism, medicine, business, accounting and engineering. Universities are increasingly looking for students who can demonstrate a high level of objective and rigorous thinking.

As a curriculum subject, Thinking Skills offers students an excellent opportunity to express themselves in a free and open fashion. Lively debate, critical and investigative thinking are to be encouraged in the lessons, coupled with informed and disciplined reasoning.
The aims of the Thinking Skills syllabus are:
  • To provide students with a specific and transferable set of skills for solving problems, critical thinking and reasoning.
  • To encourage students to apply these skills to realistic scenarios.
  • To develop students’ abilities to understand and engage confidently in argument and reasoning.
The Thinking Skills syllabus has two aspects: Problem Solving and Critical Thinking. Each of these consists of a set of sub-skills. These are explained in more detail below.
Problem Solving
The problem solving component is designed to assess a student’s ability to analyze numerical and graphical information in the context of real life situations and apply appropriate numerical techniques in order to find new information or derive solutions.

For the examination students need to be able to apply simple mathematics to new situations in order to demonstrate an ability to manipulate numerical and graphical data. They will need to be able to extract and use relevant data and find methods of using information in order to come to conclusions. Students are also required to recognize how the same data may be presented in different forms. They are expected to be able to think critically about information, evaluate possible reasons for unexpected variations and be able to use information for informed decision-making. Thinking Skills is not designed as a test of students’ mathematical abilities. Rather, the Problem Solving element of this subject is about using logical methods of handling numerical, graphical and pictorial data. Problem solving skills are not only desirable but essential to lawyers, sociologists, geographers, historians and those in many other professions. They have to understand and use numerical information, to analyze it and to draw conclusions from it.
Critical Thinking
Central to Critical Thinking is the notion of argument. From the start students should learn to recognize when someone is engaged in reasoned argument, as distinct from quarreling, disputing, reporting or explaining. Different examples of reasoning and argument need to be explored in order to understand their common characteristics, and most importantly the use of reasons (or premises) to support conclusions.

Candidates should acquire a basic language of reasoning: everyday words such as ‘therefore’, ‘because’, ‘if…then’, which are used in arguments; and semi-technical terms such as ‘conclusion’, ‘assumption’, ‘flaw’, ‘sufficient’, which are used to talk about argument. The main activities which comprise Critical Thinking are analysis, evaluation and construction of argument. By analyzing arguments students learn to identify the key elements of a reasoned case, and to understand how they function. Evaluation involves making informed judgments about the soundness, strength or weakness of a piece of reasoning. This frequently includes assessing the impact of responses to an argument: challenges, supporting evidence, counter-examples, etc. In addition candidates are required to engage in their own reasoning, based on given stimulus material.

Methods of Assessment AS and A2

All Students will sit the AS after one year of study taking paper 1 and paper 2.

Students may go on to take the full A level by taking paper 3 and paper 4 at the end of the second year.
Paper 1 (AS)

Problem Solving

Type of paper: Multiple-choice
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
Number of question: 30
Marks: 30
Weighting AS: 50%
Weighting A2: 25%

Is a multiple-choice paper consisting of three distinct parts:

1. There are questions on Assessing Arithmetic (extracting and processing data; applying formulae; mathematical modelling; decision making).

2. Communications has questions (understanding the meaning, function, relevance and significance of text and different types of communication).

3. here are also questions on Assessing Argument (identifying conclusions, assumptions and flaws; drawing conclusions; assessing the impact of evidence; applying principles). All questions are based on a scenario or a passage.

Paper 2 (AS)

Critical Thinking

Type of paper: Structured questions
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
Number of question: 4
Marks: 45
Weighting AS: 50%
Weighting A2: 25%

Consists of three compulsory questions based on a scenario or argument.

One question requires evidence to be evaluated. Questions two and three are concerned with evaluating and presenting arguments. These are assessed by structured and essay type questions. Paper 2 largely builds on the Assessing Argument part of Paper 1.

Papers three and four are designed to further the skills already ascertained in the AS course, but to a much higher degree of complexity.

Paper 4 (A2)

Problem Analysis and Solution

Type of paper: Structured Answer Questions
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
Number of question: 4
Marks: 50
Weighting A2: 25%

Four structured answer questions requiring candidates to apply skills existing problem solving skills to more complex problems.

1. Candidates are required to develop a model and explore possible solutions.

2. Students are also expected to analyze given complex data and draw conclusions.

Paper 5 (A2)

Applied Reasoning

Type of paper: Short and Extended Response Questions
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
Number of question: 4
Marks: 50
Weighting A2: 25%

Four questions with provided source material from three or more documents.

1. One question requires the candidate to evaluate and/or infer conclusions from given statistics.

2. Three other questions are based on one subject where the candidate must select from the given information, opinion and/or argument and use this to build a reasoned case.