In my last post, I suggested that the learning outcomes (LOs) discourse is becoming narrowed around prescribed elements, such as that they must be measurable. Another of these elements has never, I don’t think, been officially prescribed. Yet it has become such an ingrained feature that any discussion of writing or implementing LOs inevitably falls back on it – that is, using Bloom’s taxonomy.
Most guidance about writing LOs encourages the use of this taxonomy, and I can see why. It focuses attention on different domains of learning, different levels of learning, and different action verbs that can correspond to these different levels. It is easy to understand why it has become such a useful LOs resource.
My aim here is not disparage Bloom in any way. It is merely my observation that with such an almost exclusive emphasis on Bloom, other useful taxonomies may have been overlooked. I list below a few links to useful sites that highlight some other taxonomies:
A common element of these other taxonomies is that they go beyond just the cognitive processes and include other aims of teaching too. I particularly like Fink’s taxonomy of significant learning:
I am not making an argument about which taxonomy should be used. As with anything, I think a combination of the different taxonomies would probably be the most effective. I can see why Bloom has been so popular – the list of active verbs related to different learning levels helps tutors construct clear and precise LOs, which in turn makes them (supposedly) more easily measurable.
Yet, I like Fink’s type of taxonomy for the focus it gives to developing feelings, attitudes and values. Content knowledge is just one part of this type of taxonomy. Anecdotally, from my own experience, it is content knowledge that has become the main focus of LOs. Therefore, may be Fink and other taxonomies, in conjunction with Bloom, may be the way forward. At the very least, I think it will be very useful for teachers and lecturers to know that there are other taxonomies out there that they may also find useful when devising their learning outcomes.