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Decoding Bloom’s Way to Define your Learning Objectives

Defining the Rationale for Classroom Strategy

To gain mastery in learning, students need to be encouraged to inquire rather than be instructed in the subject matter. As John Duniosky, Professor of Psychology at Kent University has rightly said, ‘Teaching students how to learn is as important as teaching them content because acquiring both the right learning strategies and background knowledge are equally important for promoting lifelong learning.’

The rationale behind any classroom strategy is to emphasize a hands-on or practical application of knowledge, develop a global perspective and adopt an interdisciplinary approach.

It is important to realize that in the present information age, the teaching and learning processes are becoming increasingly seamless, flowing back and forth between the teachers and students. Keeping this broader perspective in mind, creative teachers are trying to find more useful and meaningful strategies to engage students in learning.

Blooms’ Taxonomy for Measurable Learning Objectives

There are many valuable and sound strategies and models to choose from. A model that has always been found useful, especially in today’s educational context to create inclusive flexible learning spaces, has been Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. Published back in 1956 and revised by a new team in 2000, the Taxonomy has been developed by a team of American educators led by Benjamin S. Bloom, for whom the purpose of education was “to change the thoughts, feelings and actions of students”.

While acknowledging that simple acquisition of knowledge was useful for passing tests and exams, Bloom and his team suggested that students should also be taught to apply that knowledge along with higher-order thinking skills for establishing meaningful lifelong learning.

Not only did it provide a common language for people to talk about progress and learning goals, but it has also offered an overview of the wide range of educational possibilities.

The focus is on practical ideas and samples which takes the Taxonomy off the page and applies it to the realities of framing learning objectives during lesson planning, classroom questioning and differentiation.

Through this article, am sharing some practical ideas that I hope will help teachers to find something here to complement the work that they are already doing to master the concept of learning.

Define your Learning Objectives

 Importance of defining the learning objectives 

Before starting classroom instruction, a clear understanding of its (classroom instruction) objectives is essential for its success. Virtually all teachers have learning objectives in mind when developing the course overview. They know the skills and knowledge that students should gain by the end of each instructional unit. However, many teachers are not in the habit of writing learning objectives, and the objectives remain implicit.

The full power of learning objectives is realized only when the learning objectives are explicitly stated.

There is a considerable confusion amongst teachers about framing the learning objectives which has been identified as a critical skill. Since teachers themselves have not experienced such activities when they were studying, it is imperative that they are trained and guided.

According to leading studies, the key to making students’ learning experiences worthwhile requires maturity and self-knowledge of learning style on the part of every teacher. As teachers, we need to focus upon planning major instructional goals, phrased in terms of desired student learning outcomes—the knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, in the most innovative, balanced and comprehensive way possible.

 Criteria for setting Learning Objectives 

The philosopher Seneca once said, “If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favourable.” To enhance student involvement and engagement levels, teachers must ponder upon well-defined and articulated learning objectives because they:

  • provide students with a clear purpose to focus on their learning efforts.
  • direct the choice of instructional activities.
  • guide with the assessment strategies.

Good learning objectives need to be specific, observable, achievable and measurable.

Well-written learning objectives include these three elements:

  1. Condition– the condition under which the student will perform the described behaviour
  2. Behaviour– a description of a specific, observable behaviour desired.
  3. Degree – the degree indicates the desired level or degree of acceptable behaviour.

 Six Levels of Domain Learning for measuring Learning objectives 

The most important and challenging aspect of writing effective learning objectives is defining observable behaviour that can be measured. “Learning” and “understanding” are instructional goals, but they are not observable or measurable.

We cannot measure learning or understanding, but we can measure how well a student can organize, label, explain, or create.

Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy (RBT) suggested in the figure given below employs the use of six levels of domain learning that creates a collegial understanding of student behaviour and learning outcome.

At the Remembering and Understanding level, the students are required to know, memorize, repeat and list information.  At the higher levels of evaluating and creating, the students are required to judge, criticize, resolve, invent, and make recommendations.  Each of the levels builds in complexity from the previous level. Action Verbs are used to involve students in thinking differently at each level. Verbs are identified to precisely clarify the student learning outcome at the end of each chapter/unit.

Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives for Achieving Cognitive Goals

TOPIC- COMPONENTS OF FOOD


Implications of Blooms Taxonomy

The table above depicts learning objectives only for achieving cognitive goals. For want of space, psychomotor and affective domains are not covered here.

Bloom’s Taxonomy has several implications-

 In Design: 
  • It provides teachers with a clear focus on framing the learning objectives which are mapped with the learning outcomes at the end of the chapter/unit.
  • Using the taxonomy, a teacher develops questions or projects that require the development of thinking and reflection from the ‘remembering’ level to the ‘creating’ level.
  • It gives students a clear understanding of what is expected to be learnt and what will be tested.
 In planning: 
  • It guides teachers in the selection of proper tools for classroom instruction.
  • Mode of teaching (lecture/demonstration/hands-on exercises/problem solving) will depend on what the learner needs to achieve after the instruction. The taxonomy helps teachers make decisions about the classification of content.
 In Evaluation: 
  • It calls for measurable results in the assessment of learning and assessment for learning – making it focussed and uniform.
  • It sets a benchmark to determine whether the student learning outcome has been achieved.
  • It provides criteria to judge whether learners are gaining mastery in a particular concept.

Conclusion

An understanding and appreciation of Bloom’s Taxonomy inspires us to ponder upon questions like: “Is our teaching catering to the needs of all our learners? Are students being able to achieve the intended learning outcomes?” The success of teaching-learning lies in answers to questions like this.

References:

Bloom, B. S., Englehart, M. D., Furst, E. J., Hill, W. H., & Krathwohl, D. R. (1956). The Taxonomy of educational objectives, handbook I: The Cognitive Domain. New York: David McKay Co., Inc.

Gronlund, N. E. (1991). How to write and use instructional objectives (4th ed.). New York: Macmillan Publishing Co.

Krathwohl, D.R., Bloom, B.S., & Masia, B.B. (1964). Taxonomy of educational objectives, the classification of educational goals, Handbook II: Affective domain. New York: David McKay Co., Inc


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Written by Dimple Puri

Ms. Dimple Puri is the Head of School at Darbari Lal Foundation World School. A progressive leader, she has had varied experience of over 20 years in the field of education. She is a post graduate in Botany and B.Ed from Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar (Punjab). She started her career as a Science teacher and has taught Biology to the senior classes. She had an opportunity to serve as a Headmistress at Ahlcon International School before joining DLF World School and has led a team with an expertise in varied fields of curriculum planning, inclusivity, pedagogy and innovation, value based education, resource management, capacity building of teachers, research based classroom practices, engaging classroom program, SDG based activities and creating flexible learning spaces in the classroom context. She is a British Council School Ambassador and is actively involved with the assignments like assessment and briefings sessions. She has authored several educational articles in prestigious journals. She has also been conferred twice with Life Empowerment Award in the category of Teacher Leader ship in Life skills and Value Education and Inclusive Education for children with special needs by Expressions India in collaboration with CBSE. She has also received the Rex Karamveer award for contribution in the field of social inclusion.. She has also represented on various International and National platforms like PASCH Principals Meet 2017 held in Bangkok. She envisions to create Darbari Lal Foundation World School as a thinking school with a learning centered environment in which students and educators are actively involved as curators and co-constructors of knowledge.
 
 

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