Bloom's Taxonomy and Online Education: Overview of Education Theory
There are many classification systems in the education field. Bloom's Taxonomy is a system of organizing learning activities by the type of thought they ask of students. Continue reading to learn what Bloom's Taxonomy is, who uses it and how it relates to online education.
How Does Bloom's Taxonomy Apply to Online Education?
What is Bloom's Taxonomy?
Bloom's Taxonomy is one of many instructional design methodologies. According to McGraw-Hill Education (www.mheducation.com), Bloom's Taxonomy is the most widely used taxonomy in the education field. It's also considered the most easy to understand. In fact, Bloom's Taxonomy serves as the starting point for all instructional design, notes Georgia Southern University (www.georgiasouthern.edu). Bloom's Taxonomy focuses on the way students process information and seeks to incorporate those processes into classroom learning.
How Do Students Learn?
Bloom's Taxonomy was developed on the premise that there are six levels of cognitive learning. All of these levels together represent a hierarchy. In order to reach the next level, you must master the previous level. These are the levels of Bloom's Taxonomy:
|Knowledge||We learn by memorizing.|
|Comprehension||We learn by understanding and interpreting what we've been taught.|
|Application||We learn by using the course material in everyday situations.|
|Analysis||We learn by examining, comparing and contrasting.|
|Synthesis||We learn by creating new associations between ideas.|
|Evaluation||We learn by assessing the value of the information we've received.|
In a study done in the 1950's, which prompted the creation of Bloom's Taxonomy, Benjamin Bloom discovered that most students weren't taught to think past the Knowledge level in the hierarchy, explains Learn NC (www.learnnc.org), from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Bloom's Taxonomy, then, was created to get students to move to higher levels of cognition and improve overall learning.
Who Uses Bloom's Taxonomy?
With Bloom's Taxonomy, teachers can define learning objectives. The taxonomy can also be used to guide instructors in teaching and assessment strategies and to determine whether the instruction is succeeding. Instructors can use Bloom's Taxonomy to formulate questions and assignments based on each level of cognitive learning. Bloom's Taxonomy is also used by accrediting agencies that want to measure teaching strategies at various colleges and universities, Georgia Southern University's Center for Online Learning mentions.
Can Teachers Use Bloom's Taxonomy in an Online Environment?
Bloom's Taxonomy can be used in virtually all parts of the online learning process, from writing course content to coming up with topics for online discussions. The University of Virginia's OnlineLearn resource recommends that teachers of online courses spend a block of time each day monitoring class forums to evaluate the effectiveness of current online discussions (http://onlinelearn.edschool.virginia.edu). They can then add discussion questions that will nudge students to think on a higher level of Bloom's Taxonomy.
How Can Online Activities Support Bloom's Taxonomy?
Because instructional materials from the classroom don't always transfer well to the Internet, some colleges and universities provide course design resources specifically for online instructors. Online courses are not just limited to text-based materials but can also include interactive features that enhance the student's learning experience, recommends Florida Gulf Coast University's online course design tutorial (www.fgcu.edu). Interactive activities, like blog writing, scenario simulation games and case study analysis, can lead to higher levels within Bloom's hierarchy of learning. Students learn better when they are actively engaged in the coursework rather than just being passive listeners.
When students use the Internet to conduct research for their classes, they can move beyond the basic 'knowledge', or fact-gathering, stage and apply analysis to the information they find, according to the article Using Learning Styles to Adapt Technology for Higher Education, by Terry O'Connor. The article is hosted online by the Center For Instruction, Research, and Technology at Indiana State University (www.indstate.edu). Students can even develop their own websites to carry out a class project.
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