Engl 101: Introduction to College Writing
As a seasoned English instructor, Rose Mills aspires to “increase students’ awareness of their own learning process.” She does this by first introducing her students to Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy, then inviting them to think about their own coursework in terms of the taxonomy.
In order to move her students to the point of being able to reflect on their learning using Bloom’s Taxonomy, Mills recognized that they had to become comfortable with identifying “various academic functions with the appropriate level of the taxonomy.” So, after engaging students in exercises to promote their familiarity with Bloom’s Taxonomy, she asked her students to respond to the following two prompts (in two separate class sections):
- Think about what happens during your college classes. Which learning activities by instructor or students do you like in a class? Which learning activities by instructor or students do you dislike?
- Think about the way your work in college is evaluated. Which methods of evaluation do you like? Which methods of evaluation do you dislike?
Mills used these questions to test her hypothesis that “students were more comfortable with teaching/learning strategies that emphasized higher level thinking but much more secure and happier with evaluation methods which emphasized remembering, understanding, or applying material learned.” Student responses to the prompts strongly suggested this was indeed the case.
The significance of this finding for instructors is two-fold. Students described a preference for a classroom environment that allows for student interaction, discussion, small-group activities—and less lecture. Those familiar with “learner-centered teaching” and the “flipped” classroom will recognize these characteristics. However, when it came to evaluation, student responses indicated a preference for “safe” activities such as multiple-choice tests and frequent quizzes, rather than open-ended activities which require critical thinking.
As a conclusion to her exercise, Mills observes, “Students need to reconnect “input” and “output” and to view the learning process not only as “taking in” information, but as a process which is only completed when they use what they have taken in – often by apply, analyzing, evaluating, or creating out of the content they have mastered.”