“Deep learning is the central principle of Curriculum for Excellence. It involves knowledge and understanding and the skills to apply knowledge in useful ways.” High Order Skills Excellence Group Feb 2011
Deep learning or active learning as described in CfE is an approach to learning that should develop a learner’s genuine understanding. The hierarchy of skills shown in the triangle is based on Bloom’s Taxonomy (Anderson and Krathwohi’s 2001 adaptation).
Bloom’s Taxonomy of educational objectives is divided into three “domains”: Cognitive, Affective and Psychomotor. Taxonomy quite simply means a “classification” of (in this case) the cognitive process – Thinking. The scope of this blog will be limited to the cognitive domain.
Bloom identified six levels within the cognitive domain. He effectively broke thinking down into different levels, each building on the previous one, from the most simple to the more abstract. These thinking skills have also been grouped into two categories; Lower Order and Higher Order thinking skills. Within this structure learning at the higher levels is dependent on having attained essential knowledge and skills at lower levels.
Depending on the wording used in questions, learners can be challenged at different levels of cognition; from lower order thinking questions to the higher order.
Such a hierarchy is a useful structure for:
- Teachers to use for self-evaluation of their practice, developing interactive discussion with pupils and planning assignment questions which promote deep learning
- Pupils to pose these types of questions of themselves and others to promote deep reflective thinking and success in enquiry or problem solving activities
Anderson and Krathwohl (2001) have made minor but significant modifications to Bloom’s original.
The altered taxonomy provides me with a structure in which to categorize questions to aid the learning of pupils. It is, therefore, a useful aid in the design, delivery, or evaluation of my lessons, teaching and, more importantly, the learning of my pupils. I use it as a framework or checklist to ensure I’m using the most appropriate approach to pupil learning in order to develop the desired capabilities (or capacities) and outcomes for them.
Here are examples of some of the questions / activities I’ve used (or have penciled in to use) in conjunction with the altered taxonomy:
1. Remembering (Remembering previously learned material)
- Make a story board showing the main elements in making …
- Make a mindmap of the topic.
- Write a list of keywords you know about….
- bullet point/highlight key words or phrases
- What tools or instrument were used to make….
- Make a chart showing…
- Write a sentence about something you have learned.
2. Understanding (Grasping the meaning of material)
- Cut out, or draw pictures to illustrate a particular process.
- Report to the class on …
- Illustrate what you think the main idea may have been.
- Classify the different forms of …
- Make a cartoon strip showing the sequence of events in…
- Write a summary report of the event / Outline the main points.
- Prepare a flow chart to illustrate the sequence of events.
- Explain in your own words…
3. Applying (Using information in concrete situations)
- Construct a model to demonstrate how it looks or works
- Write a diary entry
- Make a presentation about the area of study.
- Using the software construct your one e-folio
- Load and edit a program to …
- Take and display a collection of photographs on a particular topic.
- Write an explanation about this topic for others.
4. Analysing (Breaking down material into parts)
- Design a questionnaire to gather information on …
- Survey classmates to find out what they think about a particular topic. Analyse the results.
- Make a flow chart to show the critical stages.
- Construct a graph to illustrate selected information.
- Prepare a report about the area of study.
- Conduct an investigation to produce information to support a view.
- Review a design in terms of form, colour and texture…
5. Evaluating (Judging the value of a product for a given purpose, using definite criteria)
- Evaluate the exam answers of a fellow pupil
- Evaluate your own exam answers
- Rank in order of importance …
- Evaluate a product against given design factors
- Comment/give feedback on …
6. Creating (Putting parts together into a whole)
- Design a questionnaire to evaluate a product
- Design a bridge to cross a gap.
- Create a new product. Give it a name and plan a marketing campaign.
- Develop a layout for a new magazine, justifying decisions
- Design a record, book or magazine cover for…
- Sell an idea
- Devise a way to…
- Create a program for a robot to …
- Make a film/DVD to show …
To help teachers and pupils I have created the Asking thinking Questions poster.