Great to be posting on Week 2, even greater to know that I will post twice this week, so lets go!
This is a simple reflection on Bloom’s Taxonomy and the SAMR Model. The first is a very important concept used worldwide and developed by a group of researchers in 1956. The concept was named after Benjamim Bloom, which was the leader of the mentioned group of researchers (Bloom et al., 1956). The latter was developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, which argues that this model “supports and enables teachers to design, develop, and infuse digital learning experiences that utilize technology” (Churches, 2011).
Bloom’s taxonomy (Fig. 1) is a valuable tool that can assist teachers to create intellectually challenging literacy tasks and units of work. This can be done by using the taxonomy as a scaffold, or guide, in the design process of lessons and units. The SAMR model (Fig. 2) emulates a Bloom’s classification somewhat, as there are deemed ‘lower’ or more simple ways of using ICT in pedagogy, and then there are ‘higher’ ways of using ICT to enhance pedagogy, the latter of which should enhance students’ opportunities to engage in higher order thinking.
Fig.1. Bloom’s wheel, according to the Bloom’s verbs and matching assessment types. The verbs are intended to be feasible and measurable. Source: K. Aainsqatsi
Fig. 2. The SAMR Model by Dr. Ruben Puentedura.
However, the levels between Blooms and SAMR have a major difference: the lower levels of SAMR (substitution and augmentation) are arguably unnecessary for educational purposes. For example, why ask students to conduct a ‘web quest’ when they could conduct a ‘book quest’ in the library? The outcome would possibly be the same, if not better, if students relied on the resources in the library to conduct their investigations. A webquest would simply augment the amount of information students had access to, which could also be a good thing (or not!), especially if they are equipped with the tools to decipher reliable sources of information on the web. Now, if the purpose of the lesson was for students to practice the skill of deciphering reliability (say in a History class), then one could argue that this webquest activity could be classified as a modification activity, only relevant and achievable because of ICT.
The point is, that sometimes students may be asked to use ICT for ICT’s sake. Teachers need to reflect on the purpose of using a particular ICT tool. It is not necessary to use the ‘lower’ level of the SAMR model to improve student outcomes because you would simply be asking students to do the same thing, or more of the same thing, using a different mode of delivery. It is desirable for teachers to use ICT in relation to the higher levels of SAMR. In this way, the use of ICT would be purposeful and enhance higher order thinking skills, which is what we should be aiming for. The lower levels of SAMR are not necessary to achieve this goal (in most circumstances, I would assume).
In comparison, the lower levels of Blooms could act as a vital part of scaffolding knowledge and understanding that leads to higher order thinking. Although Bloom’s is not necessarily used as a linear process, the lower levels would still foster foundations that could be built upon to enhance higher order thinking.
The classification of cognitive processes into ‘levels’ can help the teacher to reflect on the purpose of a unit of work. A simple question to ask oneself is ‘what should the students be able to do or create as part of the final assessment?’. If, for example, the final assessment does not require the students to analyse, synthesise, evaluate or create anything, then it could be argued that the unit of work has design flaws because it only requires students to use simple cognitive processes to answer basic questions.
Of course, the more basic cognitive processes outlined in the first 3-4 levels of Bloom’s are necessary to provide context, knowledge and understanding about topics and concepts. However, this should always be followed by a requirement for students to engage in higher-order thinking processes, such as analysis, synthesis and evaluation. Otherwise, students may not be challenged inside classrooms or progress from one zone of proximal development to another. Although, this is also dependent upon a teacher’s ability to pinpoint each student’s ‘zone’ (through data, formative assessments etc), which is a different topic to Bloom’s. The point is that Bloom’s can be used as a tool by teachers to help students progress once their ‘zones’ have been identified – using higher-order thinking strategies as the ‘bridge’. Likewise, SAMR’s higher levels can also act as a ‘bridge’, using ICT as the infrastructure.
Bloom, B. S.; Engelhart, M. D.; Furst, E. J.; Hill, W. H.; Krathwohl, D. R. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals. Handbook I: Cognitive domain. New York: David McKay Company.
Churches, A. 2011. Published by Hawker Brownlow Education.
Fig. 2. Image the creation of Dr. Ruben Puentedura, Ph.D. http://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/