High level mental operations are complex, however they can be taught. Cognitive competencies is the framework for examining how a task is completed, either in the abstract or for a specific individual, and breaking that complex task into its constituent parts. By breaking a complex task into its parts, inefficiencies can be resolved and errors corrected.

For example, in mathematics, brackets are completed first. To compute the equation “5*(4+1)”, someone who knows to compute the brackets first will easily resolve the equation as “4+1=5, 5*5=25”. Someone who does not know to complete the brackets first is likely to resolve the equation from left to right: “5*4=20, 20+1=21”. Such an ‘error’ is not show a lack of intelligence but rather a lack of knowledge of the relevant rules of the system. While mathematics demonstrates this clearly for some, cognitive competencies helps reveal the mental operations involved in any complex task so that we can learn and teach more quickly and effectively.