A number of years ago, now, Brenda Sugrue posited that Bloom’s Taxonomy was wrong. And, she proposed a simpler framework. I’ve never been a fan of Bloom’s; folks have trouble applying it systematically (reliably discriminating between various levels). And, while it pushed for higher levels, it left people off the hook if they decided a lower level would do it. Sugrue first proposed a simpler taxonomy, and also an alternative that was just performance. In her later version, she’s aligned the former to the work of the Science of Learning Center’s KLI (knowledge-learning-instruction) framework. But I want to go back to her ‘pure performance’ model, and make a the case that decisions are key, that they are necessary but also sufficient.
So her lates model discriminates between concept, process, fact, principle, etc. And, I would agree, there are likely different pedagogies applied to each. Is that a basis enough? Let me suggest a different approach, because I don’t see how they differ in one meaningful way. For each, you need to take some action, whether it’s to:
- classify as a fact (is it a this or a that)
- perform the steps (which action to take now)
- trouble shoot the process (what experiment now)
- predict an outcome (what will happen)
Note, however, that for each, there’s an associated decision. And that, to me, is core. Now, I’m not claiming that they all require the same approach. For instance, to help people deal with ambiguous decisions, I suggested a collaborative approach to discuss the parameters and unpack the thinking. To teach trouble-shooting, I would give some practice making conceptual decisions about the systems that could cause the observed symptoms. In internal combustion engines (read: cars), if it’s not running, is the air/fuel system or the electricity? How could you narrow that down? In a diesel, you could eliminate the electrical ;).
Van MerriÃ«nboer, in his Four Component Instructional Design, talks about the knowledge you need and the complex decisions you apply that to. I agree, and so it’s not just about decisions. However, even the knowledge needs to be applied to stick. To test that learners have acquired the underpinning knowledge, you can hav them exercising the models in decisions.
Ok, so you might want to short-circuit the mapping from decision to practice. I think a good heuristic (ala Cathy Moore’s Action Mapping) is just to have them do what they need to do, and give them the necessary information. However, if you want to create a ‘cheat sheet’ to accelerate performance and success, with learning goals and associated pedagogies, I won’t quibble.
Now, you can’t provide all the situations, you you need to choose the right ones that will help facilitate abstraction and transfer. You may need to also ensure that they know the requisite information, so you may need to determine that, but I think exercising the models in simpler situations helps develop them more than just a presentation.
I’m suggesting that focusing radically on decisions is the best way to work with SMEs, and is the best guide for designing practice (e.g. put learners in situations to make decisions). Everything else revolves around that. Now, are these categories reliable types of decisions? Will ponder. Your thoughts?
Kevin Corcoran says
I agree with you Mr.Clark. It is frustrating as a teacher that we don’t encourage more project based learning which requires more decisions at different levels. Instead funding is based upon test based learning.