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Course Syllabus & Student Learning

Introduction

Educational programs and courses within those programs can be designed around instructional outcomes: what the professor expects to accomplish by the end of a course or the end of a program of study. Educational programs can also be designed around student learning outcomes: what the professor expects students to learn about and learn how to do by the end of the course or program of study. Student learning outcomes, as explained in "Assessment Primer: Learning Taxonomies, "can be classified into three categories or domains of learning: cognitive, affective, and psychomotor" (Saulsby). The figures and links below provide information about how to write course and program objectives in terms of student learning outcomes. These outcomes are described in terms of the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains of learning.

The base of the pyramids below begin with the primary or basic level of the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains of learning. Moving to the apex, the terms describe more complex levels of learning, some of which are characteristic of creative, independent thought and action. The links below the pyramids provide more specific information to guide teaching faculty in designed student learning outcomes for their courses and for academic departments and program coordinators to design program objectives.

Cognitive Domain

In 1956, Benjamin Bloom edited a study of the cognitive domain, which today is known as "Bloom's Taxonomy: Cognitive Domain." In this study, "Bloom identified six levels within the cognitive domain, from the simple recall or recognition of facts, as the lowest level, through increasingly more complex and abstract mental levels, to the highest order which is classified as evaluation" (Saulsby). Eric Saulsby explains that "cognitive learning is demonstrated by knowledge recall and the intellectual skills: comprehending information, organizing ideas, analyzing and synthesizing data, applying knowledge, choosing among alternatives in problem-solving, and evaluating ideas or actions."

Fig.1. Six levels of the cognitive domain. Source: Saulsby, Eric P. "Assessment Primer: Learning Taxonomies." Assessment. U Connecticut. 4 Jan. 2007. 11 June 2008 <http://assessment.uconn.edu/taxonomies1.htm>.


Affective Domain

In 1964 Benjamin S. Bloom, David R. Krathwohl, and Bertram B. Masia published their taxonomy of the affective domain of learning. "Affective learning, explains Saulsby, "is demonstrated by behaviors indicating attitudes of awareness, interest, attention, concern, and responsibility, ability to listen and respond in interactions with others, and ability to demonstrate those attitudinal characteristics or values which are appropriate to the test situation and the field of study."

Fig. 2 Krathwohl's affective domain taxonomy. Source: Saulsby, Eric P. "Assessment Primer: Learning Taxonomies." Assessment. U Connecticut. 4 Jan. 2007. 11 June 2008 <http://assessment.uconn.edu/taxonomies2.htm>.


Psychomotor Domain

Following the initial work by Benjamim Bloom, Dr. Anita Harrow and Dr. Elizabeth Simpson published two separate studies in 1972 of the psychomotor domain of learning. "Psychomotor learning," according to Saulsby, " is demonstrated by physical skills: coordination, dexterity, manipulation, grace, strength, speed; actions which demonstrate the fine motor skills such as use of precision instruments or tools, or actions which evidence gross motor skills such as the use of the body in dance or athletic performance."


Fig. 3. Harrow's Taxonomy. Source: Saulsby, Eric P. "Assessment Primer: Learning Taxonomies." Assessment. U Connecticut. 4 Jan. 2007. 11 June 2008 <http://assessment.uconn.edu/taxonomies2.htm>.

Works Cited

Saulsby, Eric P. "Assessment Primer: Learning Taxonomies." Assessment. U Connecticut. 4 Jan. 2007. 11 June 2008 <http://assessment.uconn.edu/taxonomies1.htm>.

Saulsby, Eric P. "Assessment Primer: Learning Taxonomies." Assessment. U Connecticut. 4 Jan. 2007. 11 June 2008 <http://assessment.uconn.edu/taxonomies3.htm>.

Recommended References

Bloom Benjamin S. Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook I: The Cognitive Domain. New York: David McKay, 1956.

Dave, R. H. Developing and Writing Behavioural Objectives. R. J. Armstrong, ed. Educational Innovators Press, 1975.

Harrow, Anita. A Taxonomy of Psychomotor Domain: A Guide for Developing Behavioral Objectives. New York: David McKay, 1972.

Krathwohl, D. R., Bloom, B. S., & Masia, B. B. Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, the Classification of Educational Goals. Handbook II: Affective Domain. New York: David McKay, 1973.

Simpson, Eizabeth J. The Classification of Educational Objectives in the Psychomotor Domain. Washington: Gryphon House, 1972.

 

 

 
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