Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Constructivism, Roberts, and Susans

We can do this the hard way:
John Biggs (1996) Enhancing teaching through constructive alignment. Higher Education 32(3): 347-364

or the easy way:

SOLO taxonomy (Structure of the Observed Learning Outcome):
  1. Prestructural. The task is not attacked appropriately; the student hasn't understood the point.
  2. Unistructural. One or a few aspects of the task are picked up and used (understanding as nominal).
  3. Multistructural. Several aspects of the task are learned but are treated separately (understanding as knowing about).
  4. Relational. The components are integrated into a coherent whole, with each part contributing to the overall meaning (understanding as appreciating relationships).
  5. Extended abstract. The integrated whole at the relational level is reconceptualised at a higher level of abstraction, which enables generalisation to a new topic or area, or is turned reflexively on oneself (understanding as far transfer, and as involving metacognition).


A) Most desirable (extended abstract): metacognitive understanding, students able to use the taught content in order to reflect on their own teaching, evaluate their decisions made in the classroom in terms of theory, and thereby improve their decision-making and practice. Other outcomes: formulating a personal theory of teaching that demonstrably drives decision-making and practice, generating new approaches to teaching on the basis of taught principles and content.
B) Very satisfactory (relational): students can apply course content, and recognise good and poor applications of principles. They "understand" in that course content is used as a theory of teaching that drives action.
C) Moderately satisfactory (multistructural): students understand declaratively, in that they can discuss content meaningfully, they know about a reasonable amount of content, but don't transfer or apply it easily.
D) Barely satisfactory (unistructural): sparse understandings, evidence of some effort in the acquisition of terminology; higher level understanding offset by some misunderstandings.
F) Unsatisfactory outcomes: fundamental misunderstandings, lack of effort/involvement in the unit.

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