Education Corner 19 - BLOOM’S TAXONOMY

BLOOM’S TAXONOMY—Evidence is all about verbs
When this Kaselehlie Press edition becomes available I am sure all the readers will have attended graduations and more than one. Our small family has been to four as of this writing and has several to go. Like any family member I sit and ask if the many certificates received mean more than attendance. As parents, grandparents, and all caregivers want to know that the certificates represent evidence of learning. Remember the teacher must know what to teach; how to teach; how to create a positive learning environment; and how to know students have learned what has been taught in the classroom. These are measured by different kinds of tests-some are high-stakes which were discussed last issue. But measuring learning is far more that multiple choice tests, or essay tests. Measuring goes on daily, weekly, quarterly in formative ways and is a must responsibility of every teacher. Teachers can never assume a lesson or any part of it has been learned and teachers must have proof of this. Parents likewise have a right to ask— what did my child learn to earn the certificate.

To help more with the how do we know they have learned, it is useful review work done by Benjamin Bloom and a committee of educational psychologists from about 60 years ago (1956). All professional educators (in U. S. education) are familiar with what is referred to as Bloom’s Taxonomy. Your Pohnpei teachers should be thoroughly schooled in Bloom and unless they are they cannot measure learning as it should be. The term ‘taxonomy’ should be familiar to many of you from science. Recall ‘taxonomy’ referred to groups like genus and species, groups of animals and plants that have characteristics that are so similar that they fit together into a certain group. We sometimes use a synonym as the term categories. When teaching science, teachers are always having students put items into categories. So Bloom’s Taxonomy is about some groups or categories that are so similar that we may put them into groups.
At any rate Bloom (and the committee) proposed three kinds of learning—groups of learning or ways of learning referred to as domains. These domains are three groups which in turn have groups within the groups. It is like this. Bloom put learning into three general areas described or explained below
Cognitive Domain: This domain has to do with mental skills, thinking skills or knowledge. For example, naming five characteristics of mammals would be evidence of such mental or thinking skills. Recalling the multiplication tables or solving an algebraic equation is in the cognitive domain. Learning to read, write, and speak is in the cognitive domain. Memorizing history dates like “Magellan landed in Guam in 1521” or remembering the importance of Magellan’s voyage is in the cognitive domain. This ‘cognitive domain’ is the area in which most of teaching and learning takes place in schools. For an elementary school teacher it is evidence for the standards and benchmarks. Almost all standards and benchmarks require thinking and knowledge and this defines the cognitive domain. But important about this domain is that we can measure thinking and knowledge and we can get some evidence that a student has learned. This domain has verbs that we can use to measure or get evidence.
Affective Domain: This domain is a little trickier. This has to do with an area that includes attitudes, feelings or emotions. Certainly, teachers teach attitudes and are concerned with emotions and feelings. Teachers want students to have good attitudes and not bad attitudes. We want our students to be caring and thoughtful of others. We want students to enjoy learning. We want our students to appreciate and like or even love music. For example, learning to define the term ‘classical music’ is in the cognitive domain. Teachers can measure to see if the student can define the term. But learning to appreciate or enjoy music is in the affective domain. It is easy to measure if the students write down the correct definition of music but it is very difficult to get evidence if a student appreciates or likes music. Showing an appreciation for and enjoying the environment is in the affective domain. Listing the causes of Global Warming is in the cognitive domain. Once again the affective domain is the most difficult to measure. How does one measure feeling or attitudes? In Professor Emeritus Harvey Segal’s Introduction to Teaching in Micronesia, Professor Segal uses the idea of volunteering. If you have done a lesson on littering/pollution and you see students voluntarily picking up trash around the school grounds, you might consider that evidence of a change in attitude and an appreciation for a clean, litter-free environment. Remember, it is very difficult to measure learning in this domain but it is a domain that is important. Remember teachers are teaching citizenship not just a definition of citizenship. We want our students showing respect, and caring for others not defining or describing what respect is. Simulations like class government and projects may be about the cognitive domain for practicing (and measuring) language arts skills but they also involved practicing to be good citizens and caring for others. We can measure when we see students are demonstrating appreciation, good attitudes, care for their environment and respect.
Psychomotor Domain: This domain covers physical skills and hand-eye coordination. It has to do with the development of fine and gross motor-skills. For example, at school in physical education and even playing at recess time the student learns in this domain. Students learn to skip and run; throw and catch a baseball; dribble and shoot a basketball; and so on. In the first grade, a teacher uses big fat soft rubber balls but by the eighth grade the students have learned and developed enough to throw and catch a baseball. This domain shares one thing with the cognitive domain. This domain is fairly easy to measure. Can a student run a mile in six minutes? Can a five-year-old catch a big soft ball? Can a student dribble a basketball ten times? Did the student make six out of ten free throws (60%), or did the student make only 40% or four out of ten. And too these are skills that can be practiced at home and away from school
Finally we answered the question—what do teachers teach? The answer is “curriculum.” We said that formal curriculum is made up of the standards and benchmarks. Curriculum standards and benchmarks are almost entirely in the cognitive domain. So parents should know that all nearly all the tests measure Bloom’s Cognitive Domain. Always remember that there is an Affective Domain as well as a Psychomotor Domain. Last summer (2015) at the National Teachers Conference traditional leaders and attending parents were pleased to learn that Pohnpeian Values will be part of the standards and benchmarks. We can only say this is good but schools can do only a part. When your children are not demonstrating respect at home—it’s the job of the family.
You may look at these more if you like in by searching Bloom’s Taxonomy on the Internet. The Introduction to Professional Teaching and Student Learning in Micronesia (2010), Richard A. Womack, Ed.D. is the primary reference for today’s EC.

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