Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Blooms Taxonomy: Part Three

The affective domain is the third domain of learning included in Bloom's Taxonomy.  Skills in this domain tap into the way people feel about the learning material.  The goal of this type of learning is usually to get people to react emotionally and get in touch with attitudes toward the material.

Training within the affective domain is probably the hardest domain to achieve, however when it is done well, it literally can be a call to action or change the emotions of an entire group.  I have posted this video before, but here is an example of affective training.  I believe the goal that Dr. Randy Pausch had when giving this lecture was to remind us that how we live our lives is important and we should not waste the precious gift that life is.  I think you will agree that he is very capable of tapping into our emotions and perhaps changing how we think or feel about death.



Many organizations use this type of training to change the attitudes of their employees.  Perhaps they have had a fundamental shift in ideals that they wish to convey to their employees, or perhaps they are attempting to correct behaviors or attitudes they have become aware of.

Like the other domains there are levels of learning within the affective domain.  They are:

  1. Receiving - learners passively pays attention through listening and/or observing.
  2. Responding - learners actively participates by reacting in some way demonstrating their willingness to be involved.
  3. Valuing - learners agree with the material that is presented not just through compliance but because they have a belief in the content itself.
  4. Organizing - learners put together values and compare, relate and elaborate on the material that is presented.
  5. Characterizing - the learner has adapted these values so as to become apart of their makeup as a person.  These values will affect how the learner behaves and are characteristic of who they are.
When stating your objectives and describing your learning activities will require action verbs that are appropriate for this type of learning.  Below are some examples:

Receiving – ask, attend, choose, describe, give, identify, listen, receive, use, view, watch

Responding – communicate, comply, consent, conform, contribute, cooperate, discuss, follow-up, greet, help, inquire, participate

Valuing – accept, adopt, approve, complete, choose, commit, desire, differentiate, display, endorse, explain, express, form, initiate, invite, join, justify, propose

Organizing – adapt, adhere, alter, categorize, classify, combine, compare, complete, defend, explain, establish, formulate

Characterizing – advocate, characterize, defend, devote, disclose, discriminate, display, encourage, endure, exemplify, function, incorporate, influence, justify

By the way, Dr. Pausch did eventually pass away and while he was still with us, he managed to fulfill another dream of his.  He was invited to play a character in the latest Star Trek film.  He is on the bridge of the USS Kelvin in the opening scene of the film.

Blooms Taxonomy: Part Two

The second domain from Bloom's Taxonomy that I am going to discuss is the psychomotor domain.  The psychomotor domain is where the learning achieved through the cognitive domain is demonstrated with physical skills.  This is an important domain when you are training skills that would be considered manual labour.  This domain can be broken down into 5 levels as follows:

  1. Imitation - learners will attempt to duplicate an act that has been demonstrated to them.  Error is expected and encouraged as a learning opportunity for the learners.
  2. Manipulation - Continual practice of the act so that it becomes habitual and confidence is built.
  3. Precision - The skill has been attained.  At this stage refinement or further accuracy become the goal.
  4. Articulation - At this stage learners will adapt their movement patterns to accommodate special needs or to meet a specific problem.
  5. Naturalization - Naturalization occurs when the skill becomes an automatic response.
In this domain's case, learners will likely start out with the first level; imitation and then progress to manipulation, precision and so on.  In the psychomotor domain you would write your learning objectives and learning activity instructions based on the current level of performance that your learners are currently able to demonstrate.  For example you may have beginner, intermediate, and advanced courses that gradually move the learners from Imitation right up to naturalization.  You would most likely want each course to be a prerequisite of one another to ensure that the appropriate skills needed are achieved first.

An example of training in the psychomotor domain would be physical side of training for a pilot.  In the beginning you would demonstrate the skills for them to imitate.  Likely this would be done in a simulator for safety reasons.  The potential pilot would be encouraged to make mistakes and see what the results are.  Continual practice would occur during the manipulation stage so that confidence is built up and actions become habitual.  At this stage the potential pilot would like gain experience in real air craft.  Further practice would be used to gain the level of precision.  Articulation would teach them to be adaptable when needed, perhaps how to handle emergency situations.  In the final stages of their training, naturalization would occur.  The pilot would simply react appropriately during different situations without having to spend time thinking about each situation.

The types of action verbs you would use for stating objectives and writing learning activities would be:

Imitation - begin, assemble, attempt, duplicate, follow, mimic, practice, reproduce, try

Manipulation - acquire, complete, conduct, do, execute, improve, maintain, make, manipulate, operate, pace, perform, produce, progress, use

Precision - accomplish, advance, exceed, master, reach, refine, succeed, surpass, transcend

Articulation - adapt, alter, change, excel, rearrange, reorganize, revise, surpass, transcend

Naturalization - arrange, combine, compose, create, design, refine, originate, transcend

Like before many of these words are interchangeable and certainly could apply in more than one level (especially during imitation, manipulation, and precision).  Remember you are not limited to these words, there are likely thousands of action verbs you could use for every level of Bloom's Taxonomy.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Blooms Taxonomy: Part One

Some Instructional Designers moan about going through the exercise of using Blooms Taxonomy while designing training.  I submit that when you have attended training sessions that over promised yet under delivered, it’s likely because the designer of the training ignored Bloom's Taxonomy.  The most important aspect of Bloom's Taxonomy from the perspective of your learners is that they will receive exactly what was promised during any type of learning activity.

If I promised you the ability to rebuild an automobile engine by the end of my course and simply stood at the front of the class and forced you to memorize facts and figures about cars, you could no more rebuild an engine than you could before you started.  Essentially it’s like bad advertising.  Writing proper learning outcomes will also force you to further develop your learning activities so they do achieve the goals of training.

Bloom's Taxonomy can be broken down into the three domains of learning: cognitive, psychomotor, and the affective domains. Most training and education falls within the cognitive domain so in this first of three parts on Blooms Taxonomy that I will discuss.  The cognitive domain can be broken down into 6 levels of learning.  Here they are explained using some interesting scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean (just for fun).




Cognitive Domain

  1. Knowledge is simply the ability to remember fact or content. 
  2. Comprehension is the ability to understand the material through interpretation, translation or the ability to predict consequences of the material.
  3. Application is the ability to independently apply material in new situations.
  4.  Analysis is the ability to break down material into it's individual parts.
  5. Synthesis is the ability to create something new from the material.
  6. Evaluation is the ability to judge the value of the material
So how does this apply to planning your lessons?  Simple, your goal should be to achieve the higher levels of the cognitive domain.  While knowledge and comprehension are important, memorization and understanding is no substitute for being able to do or create something new or to judge it's value.  This is where true learning occurs.

Secondly to ensure that you direct your learners toward these higher levels, you need to choose the correct language in both your learning objectives and in your instructions for learning activities.  Selecting the correct action verbs will help your learners prepare for what they must do.  Below are some examples of words that will tell your learners what's expected of them and which level of learning these types of activities accomplish:

Knowledge - select, identify, label, match, recall, recite, reproduce

Comprehension - describe, define, explain, illustrate, restate, rewrite


Application - demonstrate, apply, develop, organize, operate, produce, solve, modify

Analysis - compare, distinguish, analyze, breakdown, classify, separate, subdivide

Synthesis - combine, compile, compose, conceive, construct, create, design, generate, invent

Evaluate - appraise, conclude, contrast, criticize, decide, defend, discriminate, write (a review)

Of course several of these action verbs can fall into more than one level of learning, and there are many more possibilities as well.  This should allow you to take your learning activites and determine what level of Blooms Taxonomy they achieve.  For example if I had a learning activity that stated:   

"Please select the correct answer from the following list of wrong answers." 

...you would know that this only achieves the knowledge level.  Simple memorization is all that is required to answer this question.  It doesn't determine if the learner actually comprehends the knowledge.  Of course that might be fine.  Perhaps it isn't required that the learner know why something is correct, just that it is correct.  If a learner's job requires the ability to analyze a situation and act appropriately with that information, you are going to want to design course objectives and learning activities that tests their ability to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate the material you provide them.  More difficult to do? Yes.  More rewarding for your learners? Absolutely.