Learning taxonomies for instructional design

Many approaches to instructional design have a taxonomy of types of learning at their heart. Which taxonomy is the most helpful? Can we divide up learning into boxes?

We’ll focus on two types of examples: taxonomies of learning objectives and of learning activities.

Optional background paper: Lee S. Shulman  (2002, 25 min) provides a thoughtful background to the value and limitations of taxonomies, and includes some interpretation of Bloom’s cognitive taxonomy

Then you could either pick one part to get your teeth into or select a couple of links from Parts 1 & 2.

Part 1: Blooms: evolution of the taxonomy of cognitive learning objectives

A quick google will bring you up dozens of versions of Bloom’s cognitive taxonomy, usually depicted in a pyramid.

  1. Misconceptions:The authors never intended that triangle – see Lorin Anderson’sbrief blog – (2017, 3 min). For other misconceptions, see Grant Wiggin’s blog (2015, 8 min)
  2. Evolution – adding a taxonomy of content types: The taxonomy was updated in 2001 – See Patti Shank’ssummary of the eLearning Guild’s report (2013, 7 min) or Lorin Anderson’s fuller paper (2013, 20 min). If interested in further detail, you could see the eLearning Guild’s full report (2013, 20 min) or Krathwohl’s paper on the updated subcategories (2001, 15 min). NB Anderson & Krathwohl are coauthors of the updated Blooms.
  3. Criticisms: There are many critiques of Blooms! Try starting withRoland Case (2013, 15 min), Ron Berger (2018, 5 min) or Barbara Sugrue (2002, 3 min). Consider Edward Furst for a denser read (1981, 25 min)
  4. Which verbs belong to each category? Claudia Stanney (2016, 25 min) reviewed 30 web versions of Blooms and found a lot of inconsistency in which categories the verbs are placed. The study itselfis worth a quick skim, and the intro/conclusion explore strengths & weaknesses of Bloom’s.

Part 2: Laurillard: a taxonomy of learning activities

The ABC course design workshop we discussed last time is based on Diana Laurillard’s taxonomy of types of learning activities. However, I can’t find a good published account of them, aside from Chs 7-11 of Teaching as a Design Science (2012)

UCL produced a brief intro video to learning types and egs of technology to support them (2016, 5 min)

Note there is a lot of overlap between Laurillard’s 6 learning activities and:

  1. The 6 learning activities developed by Grainne Conole (2007), used in theOULDI pedagogy profile projectand by the Open University for activity planning and learning analytics.
  2. The 8 learning events (Leclerq & Poumay, 2005, 20 min) used in Ulster’s Viewpointslearning engagement cards

Part 3: What else? Plug your favourite!

Time for a 2-min pitch for your favourite taxonomy that we missed out. Anything you like!

Some ideas:

  • Bloom’s pschomotor/affective objectives
  • Bigg’s types of learning outcome (SOLO)
  • Fink’s learning goals
  • Wiggins & McTighe’s types of understanding (UbD)
  • Merrill’s types of content and performance outcomes (Component Display Theory)
  • Illeris’ levels of learning

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