HIGHER order thinking skills (HOTS) questions are starting to make a positive impact among Malaysian students.
HOTS questions are part of the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025, which was implemented into the school system to spark a new trend in the way young Malaysians learn and acquire knowledge.
Private companies are also putting efforts to develop necessary skills and competencies in students to enhance their future marketability.
One such company is HRCA Mega Events Sdn Bhd, a firm that emphasises on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts and maths) education.
Through a variety of efforts, the company has provided students with opportunities and platforms to experience education that incorporates STEAM in a fun way.
It organised a science competition for upper secondary school students in July.
Participants were required to answer 30 multiple choice HOTS questions on Physics, Biology, Chemistry, and Additional Mathematics within a time frame of 20 minutes.
Thirteen students from SMK Bandar Utama Damansara (4) (SMK BUD 4) took part in the challenge, winning the school a total of six medals - three gold and three silver. They were among 782 students from local schools who took part in the event.
The SMK BUD 4 participants, said they enjoyed the competition, which incorporated mostly HOTS questions.
“Though more challenging, HOTS questions stimulates ideas and opinions, making me think outside the box,” said Esther Chew Li-Wen.
The 16-year-old added that the competition was a good experienceas she had to prepare for it by reading up to gain more knowledge. It also exposed her to a variety of HOTS questions.
Sulaiman Redza Suhaimi said that the competition taught him something new that he had not learnt in school.
“It makes me think harder as the questions are not easy. The emphasis was more on my ability to understand and explain.
“It prepares me to face future exams that could be even more difficult than what I had just sat for.
“HOTS questions give students an opportunity to answer questions in a different manner, something you can give your own elaboration to rather than a textbook answer,” said the 16-year-old who added that the competition was an “eye opener”.
Another participant Wendy Lee Xiu Teng shared Li-Wen and Sulaiman Redza’s sentiments.
Describing HOTS questions as “interesting”, she said it involved knowledge and information that was not always taught in class. “It also expands my knowledge on the English language because there were so many words I have not come across. It is a ‘revelation’ when you find out the correct meaning and answers later on,” she added.
“The competition also tests us on how we perform under pressure. In the real world, you have to work with deadlines,” she said
The school’s Science teacher Datin Sunita Devi Om Prakash Sharma, who won HRCA’s Best Teacher Award, said she spent time in encouraging her students to join extra-curricular events.
“Out-of-school competitions and activities bring out the best in students as they have to use their own ideas creatively withoutrelying on their textbooks alone, she said. .
The school’s head of department for Maths and Science Ravinderan Veloo Nair said HOTS questions have helped students develop critical thinking skills which in turn enabled them to think out of the box.
“We always encourage students to take part in competitions as they provide good exposure and platforms for them to try out new things other than school-based education.
“It also encourages and gets them interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math), which is rapidly dropping in popularity,” he added.
He added that the students were able to answer questions based on the Form Five syllabus which they had not as yet learnt in school.