Habit of Mind

July 11, 2017

A Habit of Mind is having a disposition towards behaving intelligently when faced with dichotomies, dilemmas and uncertainties whose answers are not immediately known.

The study of the Habit of Mind entails a unique ability to utilize childhood intelligence so as to learn related behaviors which help to explain variations in achievement of results. If a study is conducted to on pupils, a grade variance will be explained primarily by the learning behaviors while achievement test score variance will be explained by intelligence. Though explanatory terms may remain consistent after control, for demographic and behavioral variation, the variance is explained by learning behavior, intelligence and their interaction which exceeds the contribution.

Developing children’s emotional intelligence helps in developing suitable children environment and reduces the number of children at risk of disaffection. Pupils who score high in emotional intelligence rarely have difficulties at school unlike pupils who score lower in emotional intelligence since the latter are likely to have received period exclusion or are internally excluded or are taking unauthorized absence from school.

We become self-directed and self-aware learners in our academic and professional life through changing our thinking mode. Explicit instruction in thinking and learning skills receives little attention in the schools. It is much easier to improve instructional results in a new or forgotten arena than to achieve significant improvement in instructional methods that underwent decades of evolutionary improvement by trial and error.

There is little evidence of any widespread implementation of thinking skills programs at an educational system wide level. Some approaches involve the use of published teaching thinking materials while others involve strategies to be used with existing materials and direct teaching of thinking strategies. Other strategies involve stimulating students to develop their thinking skills through engaging in activities like dialectical discussions. Another strategy involves the teaching of thinking as a separate activity or teaching thinking through academic disciplines.

Issues which need to be considered when researching the teaching of thinking include the following: –

  1. Appropriate performance measures in this area. A wide range of measures is used across different studies, hence it becomes hard to compare. They wonder to what extent attempts to teach thinking are restrained by the available tests; the test may also be inaccurate. Some of the skills acquired may be very different to those set out in program objectives. Evaluations should include some general knowledge or skill component.
  2. One needs information that focuses on generalizing and how lasting the effects are, hence the need to assess outside boundaries over substantial time periods. The difference between long-term effects and short-term effects due to changes in motivation and response is set.
  3. Teacher effects are confounded with treatment effects. With larger samples, monitoring of treatment effects is very difficult. Detailed descriptions of differences between teachers and treatments need to be given.
  4. The state of theory relating to intellectual competence is still too unrefined to justify giving great weight to the underlying theory in assessing programs.
  5. Wishful thinking distorts casual observation when there may be difficulties with formal evaluation attempts.
  6. Inclusion in programs of tasks which are very similar to the criterion tests is a problem. There can be an influence due to student awareness of responses required or due to greater persistence.
  7. Quality teaching is a necessity. Teachers are treated as volunteers. There can be some problems with providing appropriate control for group treatments.
  8. There are a range of problems with statistical analysis, like the use of individual scores rather than classroom means as a unit of analysis; the use of several varieties of analysis rather than a single multivariate analysis; and focusing on statistical importance to the exclusion of consideration of practical significance through studying and the magnitude of differences.
  9. An analysis of the goals of programs is also vital, to know whether they have any real worth in broader contexts. A program does what it claims to do, and it does not make the program a worthwhile program.
  10. There is a tendency towards premature closure. Inappropriate measurement or noisiness may contribute a failure to find a difference between experimental and control groups. It does not necessarily demonstrate that no difference exists.

Professional thinking is an active personal process that is a dialogue between the inner self and the outside social context that enriches the self and enhances human action

Indicators of growth in thinking abilities include;


Persistence refers to persevering when the solution to a problem is not apparent. Students give up in despair when the answer to a problem is not known. They say, ‘I cannot do this it is too hard for me’ or they write down any answer to get the task completed quickly and with ease. They don't take the time to analyze the problem in details and develop a systematic problem attack.

Students should develop the use of systematic methods of analyzing a problem, knowing how to start the problem, and the steps that should be performed, and information that needs to be given and collected.

Decreasing impulsiveness

Students should opt giving the first answer that comes to mind rather than considering choices. As students become less impulsive, we identify them by clarifying goals, planning and exploring alternative to problem solving strategies, and considering consequences of actions before they begin them.

Listening to others – with understanding and empathy

Psychologists believe that the ability to listen to other people, to empathize with them, and to understand their point of view is one of the highest forms of intelligent behavior portrayed.

Flexibility in thinking

Some students are unable to consider alternative points of view or deal with several sources of information in the same time. They just want to know whether their answer is correct, rather than being challenged by the process of finding an answer..

Metacognition: i.e. awareness of our own thinking

Determination of whether students are aware of their own thinking is observed if they are able to describe what is going on in their head when they think in a way that if they are asked they can describe what they know and what they need to know. Students should be able to describe their plan of action before they begin to solve a problem.

Checking for accuracy and precision

Students are careless when turning in their completed work. The speed of getting the assignment surpasses their desire for craftsmanship.

Questioning and problem posing

The difference between human and other forms of life is our inclination and ability to find problems and solve.

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Nicholas, A, et al (2000) Habits of Mind. IUniverse Publishers

Evans, R, (1995) Habits of Mind. Bucknell University Publishers

Allen, C, (2003) Habits of Mind: Fostering Excellence in Higher Education. Transaction Publishers

Costa, A, Kallick, B (2008) Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind. ASCD Publishers

Sire, J. (2000) Habits of Mind: Intellectual Minds. Intervarsity Press.

Fine, M (1997) Habits of Mind: Struggling over Values in American Classrooms. Jossey Bass Publishers

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