Monday, August 25, 2008

Bloom's Taxonomy

Let us look at the taxonomy in detail.
Level 1--Knowledge Explanation: Knowledge level is used to recall or state the information.
Keywords/Question Cues: Arrange, Define, Duplicate, Label, List, Memorize, Name, Order, Recognize, Relate, Recall, Repeat, Reproduce, State
Example of Learning Objective: At the end of this lesson you should be able to:Describe the process of photosynthesis.
Example of Assessment Question: Describe the process of photosynthesis.

Level 2--Comprehension
Explanation: Comprehension entails the ability to give meaning to information.
Keywords/Question Cues: Classify, Describe, Discuss, Explain, Express, Identify, Indicate, Locate, Recognize, Report, Restate, Review, Select, Translate
Example of Learning Objective: At the end of this lesson you should be able to:Explain the term economics.
Example of Assessment Question: Explain in your own words what do you mean by the term economics?

Level 3--Application
Explanation: This level leads to the use of knowledge or principles in new or real-life situations. For example a programmer making use of his prior knowledge to write programs for a new application.
Keywords/Question Cues: Apply, Choose, Demonstrate, Dramatize, Employ, Illustrate, Interpret, Operate, Practice, Schedule, Sketch, Solve, Use, Write
Example of Learning Objective: Apply the concepts of theory of demand and supply.
Example of Assessment Question: Applying the concepts of demand theory state which demand curve indicates higher demand.

Level 4--Analysis
Explanation: It is breaking a complex thing into simpler things. For example during math class the teacher would solve a problem. And she would give some other task as a class work. The testing skill the learner applies here to solve the problem is analysis.
Keywords/Question Cues: Analyze, Appraise, Calculate, Categorize, Compare, Contrast, Criticize, Differentiate, Discriminate, Distinguish, Examine, Experiment, Question
Example of Learning Objective: Differentiate micro economics from macro economics.
Example of Assessment Question: Distinguish between micro and macro economics.

Level 5--Synthesis
Explanation: In this level the main objective is to use the knowledge gathered to create something new. For example when a uses his knowledge to create something totally new then they make use of synthesis skills.
Keywords/Question Cues: Arrange, Assemble, Collect, Compose, Construct, Create, Design, Develop, Formulate, Manage, Organize, Plan, Prepare, Propose, Set Up, Write
Example of Learning Objective: Write an essay in active voice.
Example of Assessment Question: Write an essay in not more than 250 words about India and Technological Advancement. Use active voice as much as possible.

Level 6--Evaluation
Explanation: Evaluation entails the ability to make judgments based on certain guidelines.
Keywords/Question Cues: Appraise, Argue, Assess, Attach, Choose Compare, Defend, Estimate, Judge, Predict, Rate, Core, Select, Support, Value, Evaluate
Example of Learning Objective: Evaluate any written document/article based on the principles of composition.
Example of Assessment Question: Evaluate your own or a peer's essay in terms of the principles of composition discussed during the semester.

To conclude, I would say that Bloom’s taxonomy is important to write learning objectives. It is also useful to create assessment questions. We should also keep in mind it may not be possible to use the same keywords that is used to write learning objectives to create assessment questions, but they should be at the same level.

Bloom's Taxonomy

Writing Learning Objectives

While writing the objectives we should remember the A.B.C.D method ---Heinich et al. 1996. Robert Heinich is one of the proponents of instructional technology.
A --- Audience----- Who? Who are your learners?

B--- Behavior----- What? What do you expect them to be able to do after the completion of the course?

C---Condition---- How? Under what circumstances or context will the learning occur? What will the student be given or already be expected to know to accomplish the learning?

D---Degree---- How much? How much will be accomplished, or how much the students are expected to learn, what level?

Example of A.B.C.D method

Comprehension Level:

A (Audience) ---Student (student of class IV)

B (Behavior) ---Should be able to identify noun and verb in a sentence/ paragraph

C (Condition) ---A paragraph in the newspaper article

D (Degree) ---For all the sentences given in the article More to come....

More to come...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bloom’s Taxonomy

"Learning is not attained by chance; it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence"
--- Abigail Adams, 1780

Benjamin S Bloom proposed taxonomy in 1956. He was an educational psychologist at the University of Chicago. Educators used it to define the learning objectives for students. In this article am only going to focus on the cognitive objective and not affective or psychomotor objectives of Bloom’s taxonomy.

Cognition means information processing. And taxonomy means a hierarchical structure.
This taxonomy is used to write learning objectives. There are six levels in the taxonomy, moving through the lower order objectives to the higher order objectives.

Let’s us take a look at the levels of the taxonomy.

Lower order processes or thinking does not mean that they are less important as compared to higher order processes but it means that learners must master lower level objectives first before they can build on them to reach higher level objectives.

Few years later Anderson revised Bloom’s taxonomy who was a former student of Benjamin Bloom.
If you notice the keywords used for the 6 levels of taxonomy are nouns. But in the revised version it is verb.
The reason being, that the taxonomy reflects different forms of thinking and thinking is an active process. Verbs describe actions, and not nouns, hence the taxonomy is revised.
Old v/s Revised

Need for Bloom’s Taxonomy
Bloom’s taxonomy is used for:
1) Writing learning objectives
2) Preparing the curriculum
3) Creating assessment questions.

We should always try and create assessment questions on the same level according to the level of learning objective used in the course.
Assessment questions should map to learning objectives. It ensures that we have covered every learning objective while assessing the learner.
Defining learning objective help define what the learner is going to learn at the end of the course.
Learning objective is created based on the knowledge level of the learners and what they need to know in the forthcoming course.

More to come....

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Importance of Feedback at Workplace

Well this article is not about E-learning, rather learning at my work place. We at our place of work are encouraged to constantly hone are skills. We make presentations, share knowledge by taking sessions of various kinds and take up exercise on grammar/editing to perfect ourselves. In addition, we get feedback on all the assignments or work we do. The term, “feedback” implies criticism. Criticism can be both positive and negative. However, it differs from person to person, how they react to it.

I feel criticism both positive and negative can help us improve in many ways. Most of the times when we get feedback on our work, presentation or exercises and are expected to implement the learning in the future. I make an effort to do so as far as possible. However, sometimes I fail to meet the expectations of my superiors. Nevertheless, what makes me feel happy is that I never give up or lose heart. In addition, the fact that my superiors take pains to share the knowledge they have makes me feel elated. I have seen many a times that people often point out the mistakes one commits but they never disclose how to correct it, which is irksome. At Kern, my superiors always guide me when I falter. I like the way we get our feedback. People here know how to provide feedback and they try to highlight specific areas that need improvement.

I feel that feedback can prove beneficial if only I make an effort not to repeat the past mistakes. Of course, I cannot claim that I will never commit mistakes in the future but I feel that if I get constant feedback and support from my superiors, I will improve gradually.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Do Colors Impact Learning?

We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.”

But this may not be true in case of eLearning courses, tutorials or PowerPoint presentations. If we include too many colors in any of these then it is sure to spoil its look. Like they say “Too many cooks spoil the broth’, in the same way too many colors spoil the look!

Colors that appear pleasing to my eyes may not look so when you view it. But then the question arises which color should we use? I may not be an expert in this field, but I have attempted to put forth my view and understanding on the use of colors and their impact on learning after doing loads of research on the information super highway a.k.a internet.

Let’s look at the co-relation between colors and learning in detail.

Color is an element of design that is used to create ideas, convey messages, evoke feelings, and accentuate areas of interest (Groff, 1990). Choosing an appropriate color for any PowerPoint presentation or any tutorial is as important as adding salt to any dish. Too much or too little of it can spoil the whole thing. Before we move on to using colors, let us know what the different types of colors are. Color can be classified as:

Primary: Those colors that can be combined to make a range of other colors is known as primary colors. Primary colors can not be created using other colors hence they are known as primary colors.
Example: Red, Blue, and Green

Secondary: A secondary color is a color made by mixing two primary colors.
Example: Yellow, Magenta, and Cyan

Tertiary: A tertiary color is a color made by mixing one primary color with one secondary color.
Example: Orange, Violet, and Aquamarine
A color wheel is also referred to as a color circle, which is a visual representation of colors arranged according to their chromatic relationship.

A color wheel is also referred to as a color circle, which is a visual representation of colors arranged according to their chromatic relationship.

Apart from these three types there are complementary and analogous colors.
Complementary Colors: Colors located opposite each other on a color wheel are known as complementary colors.
Blue and Orange are complementary colors.

Analogous Colors: Colors located close together on a color wheel are known as analogous colors. Violet, Blue and Azure are analogous colors.

Let us know the principles of using color.
Use of good colors can provide good visual effect where as use of bad colors can mar the visual effect altogether. There are four principles which govern good visual effect.

Principle 1: Use of Strong and Bright Colors
Very strong or bright colors should be used sparingly or between dull background tones. This allows the strong colors to draw attention to a particular feature of a graphic you want to focus on.

Principle 2: Combine Light and Dark Colors
Using a combination of light and dark colors means that we should make use of contrasting colors in any presentation or course. This helps the audience to read the text without having to strain their eyes.

Principle 3: Background colors
For background one should use soft, dull or neutral colors that allow smaller, bright text or images to stand out vividly. When two or more colors are used for a background it tends to distract the viewer from the important objects you want him/her to focus on.

Principle 4: Unity
When we use an image with multiple colors we should keep in mind that diverse colors should intermingle with each other.

Why do we need colors at all?
If we look around ourselves we will find colors of all shades. So how can we ignore colors? In fact colors form a major part of our lives, in the sense that if the whole world becomes black or white probably we would end up confusing one object with another.

Colors help us distinguish different objects. It is often said “variety is the spice of life”. And colors add variety to most of the things around us. Color is a powerful tool, which has many uses. It can be used to get attention, create a mood, enhance clarity, establish a code, label things in nature, and differentiate items. Let us look at each of these reasons in detail.

Color is used to attract attention
Colors can be used to emphasize a particular thing. For example in the given example only some words in the instruction is highlighted to show that it is important.
“Select only one option from the options given below”

Similarly you must have noticed that models or dummies in jewelry shops are black. It is done so as to make the jewelry stand out.

Colors may turn on or turn off your mood.
This background glares and causes eye strain
This does not cause eye strainBright colors may tire you and you may have to strain your eyes. Whereas soft colors make it easy for us to spend longer duration of time to read things.

Color enhances clarity
We use color to enhance clarity and readability in the text and graphic elements.
Take a look at this picture where different languages spoken in different parts of our country are indicated using various

Color helps us establish a code
Color can be used to code items, locations, regions, and so on. Colors come in handy to make graphical representation.

Colors have particular connotations
We generally use certain colors to symbolize a particular thing. For example red symbolizes danger, black is generally associated with evil where as white denotes purity. Blue is often used to show sky and water bodies and green is used to illustrate flora and fauna. Of course these connotations differ with culture.

How does color facilitate or impede learning?
Research proves that colors have a psychological impact on learning environment. The choice of color can have a positive or a negative impact on students’ performance and behavior in class. Also colors should be used on the basis of age group the students belong to. Students in lower class respond better in a brightly colored classroom.

I remember when I was in kinder garten the classroom used to be brightly colored, mostly yellow or red color was used. But as I got promoted to higher grades, the color of the classroom changed from yellow or red to green.

Teachers have also used various colors to influence learning outcomes. For example in school we were asked to stick to blue or black ink. And the red ink was supposed to be used by teachers to correct assignments, notebooks, and class works. It was definitely done to draw our attention to the mistake we made. In one way red was threatening but in another way it made us feel anxious and enhanced our learning outcomes, in the sense that we will remember not to repeat the points highlighted in red.

Also while showing the differences between two or three concepts teachers generally make use of colored chalks so as to make the differences prominent. Furthermore in school writing board is black in color so that white color will be easily visible. Another example can be the use of a highlighter to mark an important piece of information in a text book. Color facilitates to memorize and identify different things.

To conclude I would say, colors are most influential aspect of our lives. Without color we cannot see traffic signals or enjoy scenic beauty, and learning techniques would be much more difficult. These signals require perception of color in order to be effective. So colors used in the right proportion can enhance learning and benefit us in a number of ways whereas it will have exactly the opposite if we use too much of it.