TAXONOMIES OF LEARNING OBJECTIVES

My short survey confirmed that Bloom’s Taxonomy continues to dominate the educational world’s interpretation of educational objectives.

A significant revision by Anderson and Krathwohl made the classification more dynamic, by changing descriptive nouns to verbs and thereby reflecting a more active form of thinking. The higher order cognitive skills were also redefined with “creating” now seen as the most complex and abstract of the continuum (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2009). The summary and graphical presentation of this adaptation, “A Model of Learning Objectives” ,supplies a very useful model that maps the relationship between “The Knowledge Dimension” and “The Cognitive Process Dimension” (Heer, 2012).

In searching for alternative classifications, I found two other models of interest to me:

In the “Taxonomy of Significant Learning Outcomes” Fink acknowledges Bloom’s dominant classification model, but states that a model to also address a “new kind of learning”, which includes “learning how to learn, leadership and interpersonal skills, ethics, communication skills, character, tolerance, the ability to adapt to change, etc.” is needed (Fink 2003).

Fink defines learning in terms of change in the learner with the major categories of significant learning:
– Foundational Knowledge – understanding information and ideas
– Application – developing critical, creative, or practical thinking skills
– Integration – making connecting between information, ideas, perspectives or real life
– Human Dimension – learning about oneself or others
– Caring – developing new feelings, interests, or values
– Learning How to Learn – becoming a better student, inquiring about a subject

The taxonomy is not hierarchical and the different kinds of learning are relational and even interactive. When one kind of learning is achieved, it improves the opportunity for another kind to also occur. “In fact, the most significant kind of learning experience is one in which students achieve all six kinds of significant learning” (Fink 2003). Although Bloom’s taxonomy included the cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains, Fink’s taxonomy interests me because of its more holistic learner-centered approach. It includes human significance (learning about yourself), metacognition (how you learn), as well as affective change (feelings, interests and values). It does, however, not attempt to explain or knowledge acquisition.

Wiggens and McThighe, on the other hand, concentrates on knowledge acquisition when they develop “Six Facets of Understanding“, with the goal of assessing understanding. When we truely understand, we
– can explain
– can interpret
– can apply
– have perspective
– can emphasize (find value)
– have self-knowledge (Wiggins & McTighe, 1998, p. 44).

According to Wiggens and McThighe, Bloom and colleagues’ failed to specify what kinds of evidence were needed to show understanding (Wiggins & McTighe, 1998, p. 39). They attempt to rectify this with their “Backward Design Process”.

I have learnt that Bloom’s taxonomy dominates our current understanding about learning in the cognitive domain. While it gives us a well-defined continuum of skills and abilities involved as individual learners, it remains to be seen if it can be adapted to include the unique aspects of connected learning and the way that knowledge is created through and in networks.

The following is an addition to the original post, hopefully showing that as I learn I reflect and can add to knowledge previously created:

A third model that should be added is that of Biggs and Collins. The Structure of Observed Learning Outcome (SOLO) taxonomy describes understanding in levels of increasing complexity. It seems to be able to accommodate connected learning through the “relational” understanding phase, where the student understands linked or integrated ideas, and “extended abstract” understanding where the students has taken related ideas and extended and used them to create new understanding.

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References
Anderson, L. W., & Krathwohl, D. R. (2009). A taxonomy for learning, teaching and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objektives (Abridged ed., reprint. ed.). New York: Addison Wesley Longman.

Armstrong, P. (n.d.). Bloom’s taxonomy. Retrieved March 22, 2017, from Vanderbilt University Centre for Teaching website: https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-

Biggs, J., & Collis, K. F. (1982). Evaluating the quality of learning : the SOLO taxonomy. New York: New York Academic Press.

Fink, L. D. (2003). https://www.wcu.edu/WebFiles/PDFs/facultycenter_SignificantLearning.pdf. Retrieved March 22, 2017, from https://www.wcu.edu/WebFiles/PDFs/facultycenter_SignificantLearning.pdf

Fink, L. D. (2013). Creating significant learning experiences: An integrated approach to designing college courses (Rev. ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Heer, R. (2012). A model of learning objectives. Retrieved March 22, 2017, from http://www.celt.iastate.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/RevisedBloomsHandout-1.pdf

Wiggins, G. P., & McTighe, J. (1998). Understanding by design. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

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