Cognitive Structures

Ways to Organize Information for More Effectively Understanding and Remembering

Knowledge Structures and Critical Thinking SkillsQuestions for Review and Key Words Found in Essay QuestionsWays to Organize Ideas Visually

Knowledge: Recalling facts or observation; description

Who, what, when, where, why?
Key words: define, identify, label, list, locate, name, describe steps, process, or sequence.
List, definition, formula, illustration, diagram, map, plans, table, graph, chart, timeline, or flowchart.
Comprehension: Providing evidence of understanding by describing and/or clarifying concepts, events, or relationships between ideas.

Why, how?
Key words: explain, clarify, discuss, illustrate, summarize, restate, infer, give an example, provide an analogy, classify, categorize, explain the importance or significance of...

Summary, example, analogy, web, tree, classification table, feature analysis grid, graph, matrix, index, outline.

Application: Demonstrating use for information, concepts, or techniques.

If...then? What is...? How would you apply...?
Key words: demonstrate, apply.

Describe procedure or process using: algorithm, chronology, flow chart, plan, procedure, action chart, cycle chart, parts-function table.

Analysis: Examining in detail, identifying motives or causes, making inferences, finding evidence to support generalizations, decision making. Why...? What can you conclude…? What evidence can you find to support...?
Key words: select, propose, sort, analyze, compare/contrast, explain, identify, prove, categorize, deduct, substantiate.

Break down into parts: Venn diagram, flow chart, fishbone diagram, troubleshooting chart, decision tree, parts-function table, stage table.

Synthesis: Solving problems, making predictions and/or producing original representations, decision making.

Can you give an example of...? How will we solve...? What will happen...? How can we improve...?
Key words: interpret, predict, hypothesize, .apply.

Troubleshooting chart, line graph, cycles, Venn diagram, illustration, decision tree.

Evaluation: Giving opinions about issues, judging the validity of ideas, judging the quality of art and other products; justifying opinions and ideas.

Do you agree...? Do you believe...? What is your opinion...? Do you think...? Why? Would it be better if...? Which...did you like? Why?
Key words: evaluate, rank, rate, judge, criticize, debate, conclude.

Grid, rating chart, table.

Adapted from: Reading for Success, by Raymond F. Morgan, Mark A. Forget and Joseph C. Antinarella. Cincinatti: South-Western, 1996. Technical Communication by Rebecca E. Burnett, Wordsworth Publishing, 1990

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