Another dot in the blogosphere?

Posts Tagged ‘verb wheel

If there has been a theme for my last few reflections including this one, it has been this: Refuse to be confused.

Refuse to be confused.

Recently I read an article whose author claimed that edtech was trapped in the basement of Bloom’s Taxonomy (BT). I agree the author’s conclusion, but not how he got there.

To understand what the author means, you need a visual representation of BT. The taxonomy is traditionally represented as a triangle with the learner’s ability to recall as the base.

The author’s argument was that edtech companies were not adding much value to schooling and education because they were addressing only this lowest order of thinking.

For critics of edtech companies, the author’s statement makes sense:

The current wave of education technology has been fraught with pedagogically unsound replications of the worst aspects of teaching and learning. Rather than build new opportunities for students to move beyond the most basic building blocks of knowledge, much of Silicon Valley has been content to recreate education’s problematic status quo inside the four corners of a Chromebook, and then have the gall to call that innovation.

I would agree fully except that BT should not be viewed or used procedurally from base to tip. I have rationalised why before.

TLDR? Authentic learning does not happen this way. There is no textbook Q&A or fixed procedure in life and in problem-solving. Authentic learning happens organically and the learner is often confronted with ill-structured and complex problems.

If school is supposed to prepare students for work and the rest of their lives, they should be taught in a natural and compatible manner, not in an artificial and over-structured fashion.

Bloom's Revised Taxonomy in the form of a Verb Wheel.

This is why I helped to develop the Bloom’s Verb Wheel. There is no implied base or start point for learning outcomes. A learner can start by needing to create (e.g., a YouTube video) but concurrently need to learn specific skills and content to enable that creation.

So I disagree that there is a need for teachers or edtech companies to climb up a hierarchy of cognitive outcomes. If they do, they constrain themselves to an artificial structure that does not necessarily help natural processes of learning.

I do, however, agree with the author’s suggestion that edtech companies could create better tech or less tech solutions:

Better tech entails leveraging cutting edge research in areas like machine learning to provide students with targeted feedback that scaffolds their learning experiences as they move up the pyramid. Less tech entails building technology that knows how to get out of the way and allow for more meaningful interactions to take place in the classroom. Today’s education technologists are exploring both approaches.

There is no need to use traditional BT as the reference point. It is better technology that enables natural learning or technology that emphasises social forms of learning. The triangle representation of BT holds us back; I say we roll with the BT Verb Wheel instead.

I finally got down to remaking a model of the revised form of Bloom’s Taxonomy (BT).

Revised Bloom's Taxonomy Wheel

This is a PNG that I share under this Creative Commons license: CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0.

My Google Drawing of the revised form of BT is at and can be downloaded there as a PDF, PNG, JPG, or SVG (File > Download as).

I based the model on a 2009 version that was created with the original BT in mind. That version retained the old static and passive terms like Knowledge instead of Remember, and Evaluation instead of Evaluate.

While the old wheel model did a good job of not using the traditional BT triangle, it did not swap the positions of Synthesis (Create) and Evaluation (Evaluate).

Given that the original BT model in 1956 was revised in 2001, I thought that revising this otherwise excellent wheel model was overdue.

I kept the wheel structure because:

  • The triangle implies prescription: Teachers tend to start with the base and work their way up, if at all.
  • Using the wheel is easy: Begin at the hub (red centre) and move outward (green periphery).
  • Red core: The wheel has no cognitive outcome start point. A facilitator can start by challenging students with a complex problem and requiring them to generate projects (Creating).
  • Amber hub: The wheel offers verbs that are more observable and measurable. While this practice has behaviouristic foundations, it is better than having teachers design lessons where outcomes are “students will know…” or “they will understand…”. Teachers are not mind-readers!
  • Green rim: The wheel model also has examples of learner artefacts or evidence of learning. This not only reinforces the observable and measurable principle, it also provides examples of what to design for.
  • The examples are not mutually exclusive. For instance, a story might be evidence of Understanding or the process of Creating.

BT is a mainstay for the preparation of teachers and instructional designers. However, the triangle model is outdated and its levels imply causality or precedence (e.g., remember first, then understand, then…). It might be convenient to think this way, but it is irresponsible to teach this way because that is not how all people learn all the time.

I hope that my revised model provides a scaffold for newbies and a critical discussion piece for all.

Click to see all the nominees!

QR code

Get a mobile QR code app to figure out what this means!


Usage policy

%d bloggers like this: