Yet – It Persists – Bloom’s Taxonomy
I just came across another example of L&D Consultants still using Bloom’s Taxonomy.
It’s a shame that way too many of us aren’t up on where the research has brought us.
Too many find it too difficult to keep current. It is work to do so.
But you need to do that to avoid taking your client down some primrose, thorny path.
Wisdom of the Crowd at ISPI Back in the Day
I became aware of this issue about Bloom’s from Brenda Sugrue who first talked about it way back in 1999 and then presented and published on this at ISPI back in 2002, for the Monthly “PX” (Performance Xpress) – but for some reason it is no longer available on the ISPI.org site. Hmm.
Brenda and I were both Directors on the Board of ISPI back in 1999 when this topic, and other “Foo Foo” came up in conversations, in between official ISPI business of course. I was thrilled to hear her 99 Seconds session a couple of years later, and then even happier to see the write up.
I love learning about what to avoid in the biz.
According to Brenda,
“The categories or “levels” of Bloom’s taxonomy (Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, Evaluation) are not supported by any research on learning.”
Brenda also wrote:
Bloom’s taxonomy is almost 50 years old. It was developed before we
understood the cognitive processes involved in learning and performance. The
categories or “levels” of Bloom’s taxonomy (Knowledge, Comprehension,
Application, Analysis, Synthesis, Evaluation) are not supported by any research
on learning. The only distinction that is supported by research is the distinction
between declarative/conceptual knowledge (which enables recall,
comprehension or understanding), and procedural knowledge (which enables
application or task performance).
She wrote additionally about both its Unreliability and Impracticality – and gave two alternatives: 1) The Content-by-Performance Alternative, and (my favorite part)…
2) The Pure Performance Alternative
A more radical approach would be to have no taxonomy at all, to simply assume
that all objectives are at the use level (i.e., “performance” objectives) and that
learners will practice or be assessed on the particular performance in
representative task situations. If there are “enabling” sub-objectives, those too
can be treated as performance objectives without further classification. If, for
example, a loan officer needs to be able to distinguish among types of mortgages
and describe the pros and cons of each type of mortgage as an enabling skill for
matching house buyers with mortgages, then we design/provide opportunities to
practice categorizing mortgages and listing their pros and cons before practice
on matching buyers to mortgages. If a car salesperson needs to be able to
describe the features of different car models as an enabling skill for selling cars,
then we design/provide opportunities to practice describing the features of
different cars before practice on selling cars.
For a 3 page PDF of what Brenda published back in 2002 – luckily I saved a copy – please go – here.
Others Have Also Jumped Off The Rose Parade of Bloom’s – Maybe You Should Too
For More Foo Foo To Avoid
- For Free: There is Too Much Foo Foo in ISD – Many Links on Many Myth Topics – my attempt to codify what I have been taught to avoid by the wisdom of my crowd – at ISPI and elsewhere.
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