Laura Nicholson 18th May 2019

Bloom’s taxonomy is a theory of knowledge acquisition, with cognitive processes ordered into different categories (Selby, 2015), and it can be a useful tool for differentiating learning experiences.

In designing this website, I am not rejecting other theories and strategies for learning, but Bloom’s was the theory of choice for two main reasons: its popularity and its ease of use (Kumar et al., 2018, p.68; Osadi et al., 2017; Case, 2013, p.197). Therefore, in order to share my ideas with as many people as possible, it seemed sensible to pick a theory, which the majority of practitioners were going to be familiar with.

Bloom’s Taxonomy and SOLO Taxonomy

One of the reasons I stress that I am not rejecting other theories is that I do find the systematic approach of a different theory, SOLO taxonomy, worth acknowledgement.

Although the fundamentals of SOLO differs as it is a teaching and learning theory, SOLO does highlight problems relating to the use of Bloom’s directive verbs, such as classify or compare, to determine learning outcomes. However, when the practitioner uses a more cautious approach to the task design, this potential pitfall relating to Bloom’s taxonomy can be overcome.

The Application of Bloom’s Taxonomy

A common differentiation strategy is to use the same activity for the whole class, but some students are asked to explain an element of it, and others asked to provide an analysis (Parveen and Rajesh, 2019, p.23). Applying Bloom’s in this way assumes that by changing the question asked, and more specifically, the directive verb, it will elicit higher order thinking. This misapplication of Bloom’s often happens as a result of following the belief that it is a theory of teaching. So, merely changing the directive verb from ‘explain’ to ‘analyse’ is not going to result in a well-reasoned and formulated response.

This problem can be overcome by firstly not following the assumption that higher order tasks are automatically more difficult than lower order ones, and secondly by recognising that differentiation is achievable by varying the level of support, not the overall outcome.

The activity itself must be suitable to generate learning at the intended level and needs careful consideration because the design of some teaching activities lend themselves so much better to promote higher-level thinking than others.

Consequently, selecting the right activity to match the desired complexity of thought, will assist the lecturer in scaffolding a more suitable range of responses. It is for this reason, I have selected a true/false activity as being appropriate to assess memory recall on a topic but then chose to use teaching activities such as concept maps and ill-structured problems to develop cognitive ability in the higher domains.

Differentiation

I am not suggesting the practitioner should have multiple activities running at once; I am not a fan of making students feel demoralised by asking some to do a different activity in comparison to their more able peers. Running multiple activities is also impractical and requires significant planning time, which is a luxury many practitioners do not have.

Instead, differentiation is achieved by everyone completing the same activity while utilising other resources to scaffold and challenge. Collaboration and peer support is one tried and tested method (Barber et al., 2015, p.60), but the use of technology is another. Using technology in teaching not only opens a gateway to a whole host of additional resources, but it also enables a level of interaction and discovery to suit every learning preference.

I have focused on a range of familiar traditional teaching activities and then applied the technology, to enable a selective blending of approaches to suit individual preferences. In my opinion, technology is not here to completely replace those tried and tested teaching strategies, which is why I have included both the traditional method and the technology-enhanced option.

However, each student enters their learning environment with a set of beliefs, attitudes and personal motivations regarding the task and topic in hand (Putri et al., 2017,p.2). They need certainty in feeling that they can overcome any barriers facing them, with opportunities that promote independence and confidence in their abilities.

By utilising technology-enhanced learning, there will be an extension to a much broader range of learning opportunities, and it has the potential to transform the whole learning experience. 

        

References

Barber, W., King, S., Buchanan, S. (2015). ‘Problem-Based Learning and Authentic Assessment in Digital Pedagogy: Embracing the Role of Collaborative Communities’ Electronic Journal of e-Learning, Vol 13 (2) p.60. Available at: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1060176.pdf (last accessed 14/05/2019)

Case, R., (2013). ‘The Unfortunate Consequences of Bloom’s Taxonomy’ Social Education. No.4, Sept 2013, p.197.

Kumar, R., Chowdhry, B.S., Kazi, H. (2018). ‘Identifying Cognitive Weaknesses in Students Learning through Bloom’s Taxonomy’ JICTRA, p.68, Dec 2018. Available at: http://jictra.com.pk/index.php/jictra/article/view/20/16 (last accessed 16/05/2019)

Osadi, K.A., Fernando, M.G.N.A.S., Welgama, W.V. (2017). ‘Ensemble Classifier based Approach for Classification of Examination Questions into Bloom’s Taxonomy Cognitive Levels’ International Journal of Computer Applications. Vol 162 (4) March 2017.

Parveen, J.J., Rajesh, V. (2019). ‘The Fortunate Consequences of OBE introduced in the NAAC framework 2017: Teacher Attitudes towards using Bloom’s Taxonomy to write Program Outcomes (PO) and Course Outcomes (CO)- A Study’ International Journal of English Language. Literature in Humanities. Vol 7 (1) Jan 2019, p. 23.

Putri, U.H., Mardiyana, M. Saputro, D.R.S., (2017). ‘How to Analyse the Students’ Thinking Levels Based on SOLO Taxonomy?’ Journal of Physics: Conference Series, Volume 895. P.2. Available at: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1742-6596/895/1/012031/pdf (last accessed 17/05/2019)

Selby, C.C., (2015). ‘Relationships: computational thinking, pedagogy or programming and Bloom’s taxonomy’. WiPSCE ’15 Proceedings of the Workshop in Primary and Secondary Computing Education. DOI: 10.1145/2818314.2818315 (last accessed 17/05/2019)