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LOTS & HOTS in our learning process to Mastery

LOTS & HOTS in our learning process to Mastery

LOTS & HOTS will lead us -and hence our students- to Mastery. This post was first published on 14th September 2015. The links have been updated as of today’s date and some of those which were no longer working changed.

The first Module of  Poppies Foundation Course deals with Structure.

One of the issues we are covering is how we learn, in general, and how we learn a language other than our mother tongue, in particular. To study this topic,  among other documents and resources, we are using Bloom’s taxonomy. And I was wondering whether you all know the answer to the following questions:

  1. Who was Bloom?
  2. What’s Mastery Learning?
  3.  What’s LOTS & HOTS and how can we use them to design activities?

Benjamin Bloom

An American educational and cognitive psychologist, Benjamin Bloom lived from almost the beginning (1913) to the end (1999) of the 20th century.  Apart from having a Bachelor’s, Master’s and a Ph. D. in Education, he was also an educational adviser to the government of various countries and is considered a guru in education.

He believed that the role of education is to focus on achieving the objectives set rather than on covering material over a given period of time, with no thought for who and how many students are able to grasp the material covered.  This is something the Education Authorities of any country willing to offer quality education should always have in mind.

Students, therefore, need to be helped to achieve those goals and teachers need to design tasks which progressively take ALL STUDENTS TO REALISE THOSE GOALS.

He also argued that Education is not a race but a process and the educator’s role or mission is to create or arrange the right environmental conditions to help ALL students realise their capabilities and achieve the goals set.

Mastery Learning

If Education is a process, so is Learning, and one which takes place from the moment we are born until the moment we die. Unless we suffer from some cognitive disease, of course. That’s one of the features of being human.

As Thomas Guskey points out in his article on Mastery Learningits foundations can be traced back to Comenius and other educationalists, when they advocate for meaningful learning.  It also draws on both cognitivism and behaviourism.

As mentioned above, the idea behind it is that

  • There are different stages in the learning process until we reach mastery.
  • Each stage in the process is essential to be able to move on to the next.
  • Likewise, to successfully progress to the next “learning unit” within a subject, we need to have mastered the previous one. (Otherwise, we have “Swiss Cheese learning” as Sal Khan of Khan Academy, rather picturesquely puts it)
  • Every student can reach mastery provided they are in the right environment and are allowed to progress at their own pace.


In the learning process to the mastery of something, there are different stages. These stages are part of what is known as Bloom’s taxonomy, which has been revised and updated.

In a nutshell, they stand for:

Lower Order Thinking Skills (LOTS) and include the stages of remembering or recalling, understanding and applying.


Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS), include the stages of analysing, synthesising and evaluating, or —in the revised version— as analysing, evaluating, creating.

Our task, as teachers and educators, is to design activities and tasks which help our students

  • Remember
    • Understand
      • Apply
        • Analyse
          • Evaluate
            • Create

So that they master the language they are learning.

And it goes without saying, they cannot master it if they don’t practise it. And so, we fail as teachers.

Remember, that knowledge is not innate. To be able to use language in the situations we require it for, we need to practise. And in order to practise, we have to experiment with it. That is, we need to make mistakes and see why we made them. In short: Give your students extensive and constant opportunities to experiment with the language.

Mistakes help us to learn. Don’t avoid opportunities to make them!

Apasionada de la lengua inglesa y sus múltiples matices, mi objetivo es ayudarte en la preparación de la oposición a profesores de inglés y contribuir a que la escuela pública ofrezca la enseñanza de calidad –de y en lengua inglesa– que nuestros alumnos necesitan en el s. XXI

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