models of the obvious

March 18th, 2010  |  Published in Picture This

I like models. I really do. The more visual, the better.

One recent favorite was the so called “Taxonomy of Educational Objectives” by Benjamin Bloom, a quite well-established concept for helping teachers and learners better conduct their learning. Since it’s inception during the 50s, there has been one major update in 2001, but during the time in between, other people have come up with – you guessed it – other approaches and models.

Bloom's taxonomy (original version, fancy picture)

Bloom's taxonomy (original version, fancy picture, found on Wikipedia)

From Kolb to Marzano, the list of researchers and approaches seems quite endless, especially in a field as important and large as education research. Luckily, I came across a handy review of the major approaches in learning styles and thinking models. These two reports have been put together by a team of researchers in the UK for the LSRC, followed by a book on the same subject

While the group of authors was giving an excellent overview of existing approaches in both cases, the report on thinking skills went one step further by proposing a unified framework of thinking. By taking inspiration from their colleagues and synthesizing some of the approaches (mainly revised Bloom, Pintrich’s “strategic and reflective thinking” and Halpern’s “productive” thinking).

The end result is a fairly comprehensive model with 3 main areas (information gathering, building understanding and productive thinking) and “strategic and reflective thinking” as a separate panel (compare this to figure 5 in the report). Quite nice, but from my looking at all kinds of other proven models, I was not satisfied with it, so came up with the following instead:

how to think and do

gather, understand and produce and at the same time reflect on your actions and adapt your strategy

I believe that most processes are by definition cyclical. Furthermore, I wanted to improve the overlapping function of “strategic and reflective thinking”. Due to space constraints, i also replaced the long descriptions with simpler verbs.

The result is a lot simpler, but necessarily, a lot of the depth of 50 years of research gets lost on the way.  Daniel T. Willingham in his book “Why Don’t Students like School?” called this “bubbe psychology” (grandma psychology) – the kind of stuff you could have just as well learned from your grandmother, because it’s basically common sense. Unfortunately, I don’t have any grandmothers to learn from and still enjoyed the steps that took me to this “discovery”. More gathering, more understanding and this as a product.

Reflection: I might update this picture with more onion layers to introduce more complexity (alike to the Bloom rose at the beginning of this post), but for today I’m quite satisfied with the exposure to about 10 new models of thinking and learning.

Strategy: If you find this picture as useful as me, feel free to use it. My thinking is: If you create something with just a bunch of words on it, there should be the least amount of restrictions on it as possible.

There’s quite a pile of theories spread around my floor I’m still eager to go through (like Guilford’s structure of intellect), so stay tuned for more.

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