The concept of advanced thinking refers to cognitive processes that involve more than memory and recall. Advanced thinking requires the learner to use knowledge in some meaningful way--to link learning to prior knowledge, to make comparisons and contrasts, to apply ideas to novel situations, to create some new ways of combining ideas, and to evaluate options.
Other terms also are used to capture this same concept. Barrell (1995) uses the term thoughtfulness to indicate more than memorized knowledge. Perkins and Blythe (1994) use the term understanding and define it as "being able to do a variety of thought-demanding things with a topic--like explaining, finding evidence and examples, generalizing, applying, analogizing, and representing the topic in a new way" (p. 5-6). Knapp and Associates (1995) use the term meaning to discuss the educational goals of conceptual understanding, deeper understanding, and meaningful communication.
Swartz and Perkins (1989) describe five types of thinking: critical thinking, creative thinking, applied thinking (which includes decision making, everyday problem solving, and problem solving in math and science), metacognition, and "learning for understanding and the active use of knowledge" (p. 42). This latter category of learning captures much of what is meant by advanced thinking when applied to programs in schools. They explain:
"This is the only one among our categories with a long and unfamiliar name, and that in itself speaks to the all-too-frequent neglect of fundamental problems of learning. By definition, learning involves memory, and as we emphasized earlier, memory certainly is one of those aspects of thinking that can and should be improved. But, of course, mere memory is not enough. We want learning with understanding. This objective has transparent relevance to much of schooling, where students often learn rote answers and rote rituals, such as the long-division algorithm, without really grasping the substance or import of what they have memorized. Moreover, we want the active use of what is learned. Research shows that students master considerable knowledge and skills that they rarely think to apply except on exams. Such learning is 'inert.' " (p. 42)
In all of these cases, advanced thinking is contrasted with the kinds of learning outcomes in which schools traditionally have asked students to memorize discrete pieces of information, rules, or mathematics tables. As a real-world skill, advanced thinking is useful both within and beyond schools.