Friday, January 20, 2012

Where there's a will, there's learning

Having read Andrew Churches' article titled Bloom's Digital Taxonomy my first reaction was "Wow! What a great resource for giving teaching staff ideas on how to use a huge range of online and offline technologies at all of Bloom's cognitive levels." As a learning designer I often feel more squirrel than human, constantly foraging for examples of sound and effective online learning activities, and tucking what I find into my cheeks (so to speak). So Churches' document seemed like a gold mine of ideas complete with pedagogical justifications, and rubrics.

After my excitement died down a little, a sobering thought popped into my head: "For all the fantastic ideas I collect, the elusive prize remains the secret to willing student participation." A re-reading of Churches' introduction to Bloom and his domains of learning, hoping to find there some kernel to add to my stash, caused me to reflect that the only thing missing in his article was some attention to the conative domain - the will, desire, drive, level of effort, mental energy, intention, striving, and self-determination to perform at the best level. That sent me scurrying off, bushy tail twitching with mild irritation, to Google "conative domain" to be sure I knew what I was talking (thinking) about, and found Tom Reeves' paper on Technology and the Conative Learning Domain in Undergraduate Education.

After a quick scan of Reeves' paper I felt somewhat vindicated in my criticism of Churches since Reeves laments that teaching in higher education institutions is primarily focussed on solely the cognitive domain, and even then mostly on the lower half.

While I am yet to do a deeper reading of Reeves' paper, two golden acorns did peep out at me: his reference to five essential strategies for increasing student engagement; and his attention to the development of valid and reliable assessments for authentic learning tasks that encompass all four of the learning domains. Good fodder indeed, for future blogs.

So although I ultimately feel that this makes Churches' article more of a silver than a gold mine, it is still a resource I am extremely pleased to have become acquainted with - my cheeks are bulging so far I'm in danger of choking on a rubric or two.


  1. Hi Leitha, I agree with you that the Bloom's Digital Taxonomy site is full of great resources. However, I also wonder whether there is a way to better stimulate students willingness to participate when it comes to an online learning experience. In relation to this course from a personal standpoint, it has meant that I have needed to really centre, focus and harness my own thoughts on planning, organisation and creation in order to respond to blog posts, write my own posts and digest the readings. Conceptualisation of the main task within this course, to plan and create a detailed online course to present to colleagues, has and will continue to require a high level of intrinsic motivation. Light bulb moment - I am now starting to think that harnessing student’s intrinsic motivation is the key student participation. Hmmm... I might continue to ponder this on my own blog :) Thanks! Your post has been really valuable to me. Michelle.

  2. You are really talented, and now I become regular visitor to your blogs. Great blog!