Using the Revised Bloom's Taxonomy (RBT) to Redesign CTE Courses: Home Improvement or Extreme Makeover?
A Winters Day I met with Mary Jo Nason and others at Pinehurst in December, 2004.Question: Will you come and meet with the CTE consultants and discuss how the Revised Blooms Taxonomy (RBT) can replace the original Blooms Taxonomy in our course blueprints?
in a Deep and Dark DecemberWhen I accepted the invitation, I was expecting to help with some home improvement.
Getting to Know YouIn May and August, 2005, I met with the CTE Curriculum Management team for a total of three days. Although our discussions focused on how to proceed in making the transition from the old Blooms Taxonomy to the RBT, people made me aware of problems with published course materials.
Problems, Problems, Problems All Day Long The course blueprints were too long, containing too many objectives to teach in too short a time.The curriculum guides were not used by relatively large numbers of teachers. These teachers worked directly from the course blueprints, teaching the way they wanted to teach.
Trouble (Ya Got Trouble)Concerns were raised about many students who did well on the released test items but did not do as well on the secure test items. In addition, there were questions of the importance of some of the items on an end-of-course test.There was some concern about the quality and usefulness of the published materials for a few courses. One set of materials had to be pulled back after being published.
I Go to ExtremesWe brought in the course design teams for the first time in late October and November, 2005.After working with the teams for several months, I came to the realization that this was not a Home Improvement effort. We were engaged in an Extreme Makeover.And extreme makeovers take time.
Solving the Course Blueprint Problem
Purpose of the Course BlueprintThe purpose of the course blueprint is to determine, of all the things students COULD learn in a course, what they SHOULD learn. In the blueprint, what students SHOULD learn is specified as a set of objectives. Objectives help us differentiate what students NEED to know and do from what is NICE to know and do.
Purpose (continued)As defined by the authors of the original Blooms taxonomy, objectives are explicit formulations of the ways in which students are expected to be changed by the educative process (p. 26).
The Structure of CoursesObjectives are the primary building blocks of a course. Rather than including a grocery list of objectives, however, competencies were used to organize objectives; units, in turn, were used to organize the competencies. Each course must have AT LEAST two units, each unit must contain AT LEAST two competencies, and each competency must contain AT LEAST two objectives.
How Many Competencies and Objectives?For each course, the objectives, competencies, and units are determined consensually by a Course Design Team. Each objective included in a course blueprint has an associated course weight. As described in the blueprint, the weight shows the relative importance of the objective and is used to help determine the percentage of total class time that is spent on each objective.
Rethinking the Blueprint ProblemBecause the smallest possible course weight is 1%, a course cannot contain more than 100 objectives. In general, each blueprint page contains from 10 to 15 objectives. You can estimate the number of course objectives from the number of pages included in the blueprint (excluding the cover and general information pages).
Beginning to Grasp the Blueprint ProblemAssuming 10 to 15 objectives per page, a 5-page blueprint would contain somewhere between 50 and 75 objectives. If there are 50 objectives, the average course weight per objective is 2 percent. If there are 75 objectives, the average course weight is 1.5 percent.
Understanding the Blueprint ProblemIn the past, then, course blueprints tended to contain relatively large numbers of relatively small objectives. Using the terminology of the RBT, many of these objectives were A1 objectives, that is, objectives that required students to Remember Factual Knowledge.
Solving the Blueprint ProblemTo shorten the blueprints, then, we needed to have fewer larger objectives. Because of the imposed constraints on the numbers of units, competencies, and objectives mentioned earlier, the fewest objectives that could be included in a course would be 8 (2 units x 2 competencies per unit x 2 objectives per competency).
Specificity & Generality of ObjectivesThe authors of the RBT identified 3 levels of objectives, ranging from general to specific: global, educational, & instructional.They went on to say that educational objectives are moderate in scope and provide the basis for planning units containing objectives that require weeks or months to learn (p. 17).
The Scope of the RBTOur framework is designed to facilitate working with EDUCATIONAL objectives.
The RBT and Course BlueprintsBecause educational objectives require weeks or months to learn, we stipulated that, with few exceptions, the minimum course weight for any objective would be 3%. In order to move to 3% or more objectives, Course Design Teams found themselves moving away from the A1 cell of the RBT: to the right on the Cognitive Process Dimension and down the Knowledge Dimension.
So Whats Different?The RBT course blueprints are shorter than 3 pages, with many being 2 pages.The structure of every course (units, competencies, and objectives) is the same for every course.
So Whats Different?All verbs included in competencies & objectives are taken from the 6 cognitive process categories and 19 specific processes included in the RBT (see inside back cover of the text).The number of objectives that emphasize memorization is reduced in every course.
Exhibit APortions of Course Blueprints 6208 Exploring Business Technologies 7111 Early Childhood Education I
Solving the Curriculum Guide Problem
Purpose of the Curriculum GuideThe purpose of a curriculum guide is to help teachers connect the objectives included in the course blueprints with the students enrolled in their courses.
Unpacking the PurposeEach curriculum guide is written BY teachers (along with, in some cases, teacher educators) FOR teachers.It is a GUIDE to help teachers, not a PRESCRIPTION to be followed blindly.Each curriculum guide MUST help teachers connect students likely to enroll in the course with the course objectives.
Connecting Students to ObjectivesConnecting students to course objectives requires that course content be unpacked so that it makes sense to students, and teachers must teach in ways that actively engage students in the process of learning.
Content Outline v. Unpacked Content Content Outline
Words OnlyOrganized AlphabeticallyUnpacked Content
Words and MeaningsOrganized StructurallyWritten in Language of Students
The Language of StudentsLanguage of ExpertsDemand is the want or desire to possess a good or service with the necessary goods, services, or financial instruments necessary to make a legal transaction for those goods or services. Language of StudentsDemand is the desire to own something and the ability to pay for it.
Power Point PresentationsMost courses include Power Point Presentations to provide an overview of the content contained in the course.These Power Point Presentations are intended for both teachers and students, particularly those teachers who are lateral entry teachers and those who may be teaching a particular course for the first time.
The Engaging Nature of QuestionsOnce the content has been unpacked, we turn our attention to the need to engage students in the process of learning.From years of research we have learned that asking is more engaging than telling. Consequently, essential questions or learning questions are included in course guides.
Exhibit BExamples of Unpacked Content and Essential/Learning Questions
6411 Computer Applications I 7075 Foods II Food Technology
Activities and Student EngagementStated simply, active students are more engaged in learning than passive students. For each objective, therefore, each curriculum guide includes a sequence of activities for teachers to follow.In addition, the relevance of each activity to the objective is specified, as are the resources needed to support the activity.
Exhibit CExamples of Portions of Activity Sequences
6208 Exploring Business Technologies 6626 Strategic Marketing 7111 Early Childhood Education I
Graphic Organizers, Unpacked Content, and Student EngagementGraphic organizers can be used not only to engage students in learning as they read material or listen to a lecture, but also to help students learn to unpack content on their own.Consequently, many courses include graphic organizers.
Exhibit DExamples of Graphic Organizers
6158 Exploring Career Decisions 6626 Strategic Marketing 7075 Foods II Food Technology 7111 Early Childhood Education I
Making, Doing, & Student EngagementActivities that require students to make or do something are engaging for students.Consequently, both large- and small-scale projects are included in curriculum guides when objectives focus on Apply and Create.
Exhibit EExamples of Projects
6158 Exploring Career Decisions 6411 Computer Applications I 7075 Foods II Food Technology
Scoring Students ProjectsWhenever a short- or long-term project is assigned to students, the curriculum guide includes a rubric that is to be used to score student performance on the project.
Exhibit FExamples of Rubrics
6208 Exploring Business Technologies 7075 Foods II Food Technology
Unit OverviewAs mentioned earlier, courses are organized around units of instruction. In many ways, units are the glue that holds the competencies and objectives together.Each course contains a Unit Overview that provides teachers with useful information about the unit BEFORE they begin teaching it.
Exhibit GExamples of Unit Overviews
6411 Computer Applications I 7075 Foods II Food Technology
Solving the Curriculum Guide ProblemBy providing a unit overview, unpacking the content for each objective, using Power Point Presentations to provide overviews of the content, and including questions, activities, graphic organizers, and projects to engage students, I believe that we have made the curriculum guides more user friendly.
Who Benefits from Curriculum Guides?The curriculum guides should be particularly helpful to lateral entry teachers and teachers teaching a particular course the first time. For more experienced teachers, the curriculum guides should offer a set of ideas and strategies that represent the best thinking of other experienced teachers, ideas that in their busy worlds they may not have had time to think of on their own.
Solving the Test Item Problem
Importance and AlignmentThe test item problem can be rephrased as two questions.Do the items test learning that is truly important? Why do some students do well on the items in the classroom bank, but not on the items in the secure (VoCATS) bank?
When Does a Fact Become Trivia?Not all facts are created equal. Facts pertaining to safety, for example, are critical. So are facts that you use over and over again (e.g., multiplication facts, names of frequently used tools). Facts pertaining to names of people, dates, figures, and locations, on the other hand, border on trivia.
Some Trivia ContendersWho was the father of the Kindergarten movement?Where is the backspace key located on a standard computer keyboard?How many big screen TVs were owned by Americans in 2000?What do the initials HACCP stand for?
Objectives and Test ItemsBecause items are derived from objectives, the inclusion of large numbers of items of questionable importance derives from the inclusion of large numbers of low level objectives.The best way to solve this aspect of the test item problem is to increase the cognitive level of the course objectives. In comparing the RBT courses with prior courses, you should see a shift from memorization (A1) to understanding (B2).
Released and Secure ItemsJust as not all facts are created equal, so too, not all test items are created equal. Some items are more difficult; others are easier. If released items are easier than secure items, on average, then student performance on the released items will quite likely be higher than on the secure items.
The Use of Item FormsItem forms were used to prepare the test items for all courses. The use of item forms makes it more likely that the items will be valid (that is, truly assess students learning of the objective as written) and more similar in their difficulty.
Two Items of the Same FormLowes is targeting consumers living in the Southwest for a new product offering. It is segmenting the consumer market based on: a) benefits, b) geographics, c) psycho-graphics, d) usage rate.Western Wake Hospital is targeting a 29-year old, female consumer that earns $60,000 per year. It is segmenting the consumer market based on: a) demographics, b) geographics, c) psychographics, d) usage rate.
The RBT and Item FormsDifferent item forms are needed to properly assess objectives falling into different cells of the RBT.For example, one very good way of assessing Understand Conceptual Knowledge is to give students one or more examples and have them determine in which category or classification the example (or examples) belong (see previous slide).
Assessing Conceptual UnderstandingAnother good way to assess Understand Conceptual Knowledge is to give students information presented in one form and ask them to change it to another form. In the language of the RBT, we are asking students to interpret the information.
Interpret requires students to change from one from one form (a graph)
To Another Form (the Meaning of a Single Point on the Graph)Which point in the graph in the figure above would illustrate the equilibrium price for Demand Curve 1 (D1)?P1P2QS
Assessing Apply Objectives Using Multiple-Choice ItemsSince apply objectives involve doing something and typically involves procedural knowledge, the emphasis in assessing apply procedural knowledge (C3) objectives is on doing something or knowing what to do or how to do it.
Examples of C3 ItemsYou are developing a new food science experiment. What should your first step be? Collect the dataIdentify the problemIdentify variablesWrite the procedureAfter putting together a product development team, what is the appropriate first action to take? Do a cost breakdown of the productHold a brainstorming meeting to develop ideasStart doing the research for the productStart trial formulations of the new product
Assessing Evaluate ObjectivesIn the context of the RBT, evaluate means to make judgments based on criteria and standards.One of the major judgments that early childhood educators need to make is whether programs and practices are developmentally appropriate.
Evaluating ECE Programs & PracticesAn after-sch...