‘HOTS’ in Iran's Official Textbooks: Implications for Material Design and Student Learning

Gerannaz Zamani, Reza Rezvani


Higher-order thinking skills or ‘HOTS’ for short are essential outcome criteria of higher education in any discipline. It is thinking that is characterized in terms of ‘analysis’, ‘evaluation’ and ‘creation’ levels of Anderson and Krathwohl's taxonomy. This paper attempts to evaluate higher order thinking skills represented in Iran's Organization for Researching and Composing University Textbooks in the Humanities (known as SAMT) official English textbooks of TEFL (Teaching English as Foreign Language) using Anderson and Krathwohl's taxonomy of the cognitive domain. Three University English textbooks pertaining to the specialized courses; that is, Methodology, Language testing, and Linguistics were included in the analysis. To codify the cognitive processes involved in these materials, a coding scheme was developed by the researchers based on Anderson and Krathwohl's taxonomy of the cognitive domain. The exercises and activities of the textbooks were codified and the frequencies and percentages of occurrence of different thinking processes were calculated. The most important finding emerging from this study is that in all the textbooks lower-order thinking skills were more frequently targeted and represented than higher-order ones. Moreover, the difference between the language testing, methodology and linguistics textbooks in terms of the degrees of the engagement of higher-order thinking was notable, as in the language testing textbook, from among these three, attention has been paid most to critical thinking. Results of this study have implications both for specialized language materials development and evaluation.


higher-order thinking, critical thinking, creative thinking, Anderson and Krathwohl's taxonomy of the cognitive domain

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