Many college faculty have heard of Bloom’s Taxonomy and have probably used one of the many helpful lists of accompanying verbs to craft measurable learning objectives. The six categories in Bloom’s Taxonomy for the Cognitive Domain (revised in 2001) – remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating – has been the go-to resource for writing learning objectives for over 50 years, assisting countless educators.
The goal of using Bloom’s Taxonomy is to articulate and diversify our learning goals. So why has the writing of learning objectives, considered to be an essential aspect of creating effective and engaging learning experiences, too often been viewed as an uninspiring task? Shouldn’t this be where our passion as teachers comes through? Could it be we are focusing on a limited aspect of learning?
Bloom’s Taxonomy has been used for so long because it makes sense and is useful, but perhaps it is time we move beyond Bloom to explore all the types of learning we are trying to achieve in a college-level course. Luckily there are other taxonomies we can use. In fact, Bloom’s taxonomy of the cognitive domain is only one of the taxonomies created by Bloom and his colleagues. A quick Internet search will uncover the work begun by Bloom and furthered by other scholars in the psychomotor and affective domains.
Additionally, L. Dee Fink’s Taxonomy of Significant Learning Outcomes goes beyond cognitive processes and includes other aims of teaching. Fink’s taxonomy contains six aspects of learning:
Similarly, Wiggins and McTighe’s backwards design model describes Six Facets of Understanding:
Both of these taxonomies start with the foundational knowledge necessary for deeper learning, and allow us to tease out the type of thinking we want students to be doing. But both go beyond cognitive processes and application of knowledge to also explore some of the larger goals of our courses. Nearly all courses including some affective goals, whether it is a deeper appreciation of culture, or simply to change someone’s deep dislike of math or feelings of inadequacy about writing. And nearly all courses should include some metacognitive aspects, helping students develop the habits necessary of a lifelong learner in the 21st century.
Once we have clarified and articulated all the various objectives in our course, we can then choose the most appropriate teaching and assessment methods. For example, lectures and presentations are well suited for the transfer of foundational knowledge and could be useful for some cognitive processes, but are not effective for promoting application skills or perspective taking or self-discovery. Davis and Arend provide yet another categorization that can help educators determine which teaching methods are best suited for which learning objectives:
Which taxonomy you choose, or how you mix them together, might be a matter of personal choice. But articulating our goals beyond what we are used to describing will allow us to capture the entirety of what we are teaching, and perhaps become more passionate about our work. It’s worth a look into some of these other taxonomies, beyond Bloom, that can help us with these larger goals.
To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at email@example.com. This Weekly Teaching Note was adapted from a contribution to the Teaching and Learning Writing Consortium sponsored by Seneca College and New York Institute of Technology.
Bridget Arend, PhD
Director of University Teaching
Office of Teaching and Learning
University of Denver
I've enjoyed the conversations I've had with many of you this year, as you responded to me – in person or in email – about a particular idea. Below is a list of all the Weekly Teaching Notes from the 2012-2013 academic year, with direct links to each one. Weekly Teaching Notes will break for the summer and resume again in the fall.
At the Center for Teaching and Learning, we are here throughout the summer and are eager to assist you with your teaching, course design or redesign, scholarly writing, and preparing your reappointment/tenure/promotion portfolios. (All consultations are voluntary and confidential.) To make an appointment with us, please email Jea Ahn (instructional Designer, Old Westbury) at firstname.lastname@example.org, Olena Zhadko (instructional designer, Manhattan) at email@example.com, or me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be delighted to work with you!
Starting the Semester
Strategies for Learning Students’ Names
The Graphic Syllabus
Using the Course Syllabus as an Opportunity to Promote Student Learning
21st Century Literacies
With the Community, Not Just In It
Got a Minute for my Worldview?
The Past is Always With Us
Developing Student Reading Capacity
Learning from Conflict in the Classroom
Putting Students in the Driver’s Seat
A Primer on Critical Thinking
Engaging Your Students
Student Engagement Technique: Silent Discussion
Use PowerPoint to Prompt Engaging Learning Activities during Class
Low-Tech Classroom Response Systems (Clickers)
Did You Just Tell Us to Take Out our Cell Phones?
Beyond Four Walls: Leveraging Technology for Learning
Online Collaboration Through Evernote: A New Group Format
Consider the Learning Space
Gamification as Motivator
The Crossword Puzzle as Threshold to Higher Order Thinking
Not Just Fun and Games! Structure Class Demonstrations to Reinforce Learning Goals
How Do We Address Plagiarism?
NYIT Faculty Talk About Plagiarism
Ending the Semester
Holistic Conversations about a Course: Activity for the Last Week of the Semester
Indices to Previous Years
Weekly Teaching Notes: 2011-2012 Index
Weekly Teaching Notes: 2010-2011 Index
“None of you would think of putting your hand in my pocketbook and stealing my wallet. Plagiarism is like putting your hand in my brain and stealing my thoughts.” – Linda Comac, Director, English Language Institute
Last month, the Center for Teaching and Learning offered a two-week online workshop on plagiarism, with the assistance of six English faculty members and two campus deans who reviewed workshop materials, facilitated the discussion, and explained NYIT’s academic integrity policy and procedures. The online format enabled faculty and staff from different campuses to exchange ideas: 32 people participated from our campuses in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Manhattan, Nanjing, NYIT Online, Old Westbury, and Vancouver.
Jennifer Griffiths (English, MA; Writing Coordinator) states that it is important to explain to students what plagiarism is and why it is vital not to plagiarize: “Successful completion of written assignments demonstrate that the student has mastered the knowledge and skills required in the course. If they copy someone else's solution to a math problem, they haven't learned the math.”
Another participant (English, OW) echoed that sentiment: “My experience today confirms the necessity of repeated definition of plagiarism and emphasis of consequences. Today I did a plagiarism workshop in both my classes. … The workshop surprised my students and me both: them because they had forgotten some of the important points about plagiarism, and me because the students voiced a misconception I had not picked up on before: ‘If something on the Internet doesn't say it's copyrighted, then you can use it.’ ”
Many participants referred to the use of technology (TurnItIn and SafeAssign, both of which are available in Blackboard) as tools that can help recognize plagiarism as well as teach students about plagiarism. For example, some faculty encourage students to submit drafts of their papers review the originality reports, and correct any instances of plagiarism prior to submitting a final paper.
A faculty member from Old Westbury noted that “…my most effective plagiarism detection tool is my familiarity with each student’s writing,” and adds, “producing a research paper in stages … results in much better papers and less plagiarism. After producing the research proposal, the outline, and the annotated bibliography, the students know what to do to write the paper and about how long the writing will take. They aren't so likely to start the assignment, discover they can't possibly produce something decent in a hurry, and plagiarize.”
David Hogsette (English, OW; Writing Coordinator) suggests the following: “If you are convinced a student plagiarized but cannot find the source, call him/her in for an interview. Quiz the student on parts of the paper, ask what certain terms mean, read some of the plagiarized text and compare to the student's authentic writing (like an in-class quiz or essay or other writing assignment). Ask him/her to explain the difference in language (if you see any). … Even if they don't [admit to plagiarizing], you can still … send the case to Dean of Campus Life for further review and evaluation. … [It is essential that you] report all instances of plagiarism to the Dean of Campus Life, and encourage your colleagues to do the same. This is vitally important in our efforts to curb plagiarism.”
Michael Schiavi (English; Manhattan Writing Coordinator) offers some practical advice on talking with students when you suspect plagiarism: “In very rare cases I am willing to believe that a student's plagiarism is accidental: for example, a lifted line in an essay's introduction, or an attempt to define a difficult term without quotation marks. OK. In these cases, I meet with the student one-on-one, identify the infraction, and work on re-write strategies in person with him or her.
“But when a suspiciously marvelous sentence, or more, suddenly appears in an essay riddled with errors, red flags should start going up. In those cases, I personally don't believe in a zero for the assignment, which is the same grade that the student would have received for not doing the assignment at all. Plagiarism is cheating, and it needs to be addressed and documented as such.
“1) Bring the student in and ask whether he or she has plagiarized. If a confession is forthcoming, great. You both sign the form, and it goes, with the evidence, to the Dean of Campus Life, who takes it from there.
“2) If a confession is not immediately forthcoming, show the student the evidence that you have found. This, of course, requires that you have done your homework. In my own experience, 95% of plagiarized work is instantly and easily found through a routine Google search of idiosyncratic phrases. As I tell my adjuncts, when students start using conditional/subjunctive cases ("Would that this were the case") and plural possessives correctly, my antennae go way up. And in 98% of such cases, when you present students with printed evidence of their plagiarism, they sign the form, and it goes to the Dean.
“3) In cases where you cannot find the evidence, I do as David [Hogsette] suggests and question students about advanced vocabulary or phrasing in the paper. But I also try to document at this stage: before the meeting, I prepare a list of such phrases and ask students, while sitting before me, to explain or even paraphrase them in writing. When they cannot do so, confession is usually immediate.”
Alex Ott (Student Solutions Center) added another dimension to the discussion: “The issue becomes how to strengthen the sense of integrity of, essentially, all people so as to encourage their honesty. … Don’t get me wrong: The “head on a spike” approach has its place. You need enforcement. You also need supervision of exams, etc. But more than that is needed. For multiple reasons: First, the punitive approach will not convince everyone (most people who cheat don’t think they’ll get caught, after all—just as most criminals are not dissuaded by the potential penalty). Second, and perhaps more importantly, part of education is the building of good character. While the punitive approach might work to stop a student from cheating/plagiarizing, will it build good character? Perhaps, in part. But if you “convince” a student to behave well only on the basis of the potential sanction, what happens when they get into an environment where the sanctions are less clear? That’s when their good character will be important. I think we need to build a culture of good character. The question is how to build that culture.”
Michael Schiavi sums it up nicely: “This process is all very laborious and time-consuming, but it is necessary. We have a responsibility to protect this institution's integrity and to ensure that our students' degrees actually mean something. Otherwise, why are we all bothering?”
Olena Zhadko, PhD
Instructional Designer, Center for Teaching and Learning
No different than a baseball manager changing hitters to face the incoming left-handed pitcher, students are keenly aware of the averages: the more education, the greater the prospects of income, health and choice. They enroll to earn credentials, and with any luck discover something to care about and nurture. But are credentials enough? Sufficient?
As an effective educator you express your passion through learning, a lifelong process of attention, priority, and discovery. Likewise, our students must acquire the skills and literarcies to support a lifetime. Knowing how to manage personal knowledge. Knowing how to participate in learning networks. And, yes, knowing how to learn, and what it means to be information literate.
Using the library to support your curriculum marks a beginning. Here are a few suggestions that, with any luck, will encourage your students to grab their education by its lapels:
To paraphrase Stephen Downes, an education is something one develops, grows and maintains, something that our students themselves are ultimately responsible for.
To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at email@example.com.
Virtual Services Librarian
New York Institute of Technology
One of the most difficult tasks we encounter with students is moving them beyond a mere accumulation of factual material in class. Often our transmission of lower-order thinking skills (remembering and understanding) is somewhat akin to the proverbial giving of a fish to the hungry individual. Increasingly in the 21st century, we are recognizing the need to teach our students how to fish; that is, the skills for higher-order thinking.
One effective threshold to the top level on Bloom’s revised taxonomy (Anderson and Krathwohl, 2001) of learning, creating, is perception shifting, or learning to look at a given issue or problem from multiple perspectives. The crossword puzzle can help students to become adept at this important skill.
Suppose you provide your students with a crossword puzzle grid where 1 Across is four letters with a clue of “First place.” Since 2012 is an Olympic year, one student in the class is bound to call out, “GOLD.”
Without having 1, 2, 3, and 4 Down, it’s difficult to know if GOLD is correct, but let’s say you pronounce that answer wrong and help the students by asking them to think in terms of biology. Both “CELL” and “WOMB” are excellent suggestions, but we doubt you’ll get them for a while. Why? Your students will have trouble shifting gears from one field of perception to another. Psychology has a principle often referred to as “the primacy of the first,” which states that once our mind settles on something, changing that thought is difficult.
You could provide your students with the fish by suggesting the answers “CELL” and “WOMB,” or you could further illustrate the problem by offering the lens of still another field such as religion and watch them stumble to come up with “EDEN.”
Alternatively, you could teach them how to fish by explaining what perception shift is and why it’s difficult. You could extend that teaching moment by having students become cruciverbalists (solvers/constructors of crossword puzzles) and create some more of the crossword puzzle, thereby moving them up Bloom’s Revised Pyramid.
To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. This Weekly Teaching Note was adapted from a contribution to the Teaching and Learning Writing Consortium sponsored by Western Kentucky University.
Charlie Sweet, Eastern Kentucky University
Hal Blythe, Eastern Kentucky University
Rusty Carpenter, Eastern Kentucky University
Shawn Apostel, Eastern Kentucky University