When students say “I just couldn’t think”: Challenges in Teaching Skilful Thinking

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Bavani Nageswana Row
Selvaranee Subramaniam
Renuka V. Sathasivam


This paper discusses challenges encountered by selected Year Four science teachers
regarding their knowledge and implementation of skilful thinking (ST) in their classrooms.
ST is a complex concept comprising three elements; specific thinking strategies, habits of
mind and metacognitive thinking. Due of the complexity of ST, the implementation of
teaching of thinking skills in primary science is often overlooked. Subsequently, this has led
to students’ low achievements in tasks related to higher order thinking skills (HOTS). The
sample of this study consisted of nine novice teachers. Semi‐structured teacher interviews
and classroom observations were the primary sources of data for this study. The findings
revealed that the selected teachers lacked knowledge on ST and therefore were unable to
implement and infuse ST elements into their daily classroom practices. In addition, other
challenges ‐‐ such as classroom management, mixed ability students and lack of resources
‐‐ hindered teachers from implementing ST successfully in their classrooms. Implications
for science teacher education and in‐service professional development are discussed.


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