Another dot in the blogosphere?

SOLO teachable moments

Posted on: August 13, 2020

This tweet offers teachable moments.

Tweets sometimes do not capture sufficient context thanks to their brevity. Even the embedded photo does not help much.

The framework on screen is the SOLO taxonomy by Biggs and Collis (1982)*. SOLO is short for Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes. This is an alternative to Bloom’s taxonomy (BT) and seems to be used quite often in higher education.

*Biggs, J. B. and Collis, K. F. (1982). Evaluating the quality of learning: the SOLO taxonomy (structure of the observed learning outcome). Educational psychology series. New York: Academic Press.

Like BT, SOLO is a useful descriptive framework. It reminds educators to focus on the evidence of learning (observable outcomes) instead of the motions of teaching.

SOLO is also not a prescriptive framework. It does not guide educators on how exactly to craft good learning outcomes when planning lessons. This is why I promote the Bloom’s verb wheel.

The tweet is also instructive if I focus on the comment captured on the screen: Reminds me of the different levels we might place students on a proficiency scale within a curriculum area/concept/idea. Justifying, comparing, inferring, analysing (the verbs).

This comment reminds me how important is to take advantage of adult learner experiences. The commenter seemed to already be familiar with other theories and was negotiating the meaning of this new one. As learners do this, they make mistakes which a facilitator can carefully use as teachable moments.

The verbs the commenter used do not correspond to each of the SOLO levels. For example, requiring students to infer might be indicative of highest SOLO level, extended abstract. A unistructural level outcome might be to state or describe.

Teachable moments do not automatically become learnable ones. Learning is partly a function of motivation, openness, and prior experience. If a “learner” takes offence to my attempt to instruct and correct, he or she is unlikely to actually learn.

I share these thoughts not as a critique of what is a mere snapshot of a longer process of learning. Instead, this is my attempt to model what a facilitator of learning would have to know and then manage in order to ensure the learner gets there.

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