Tip #102: Learning Levels

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The fourth step in the comprehensive nine step LESSON PLANning Process is:

STEP 4. SET THE DESIRED LEVELS OF LEARNING.

This step is based on Bloom’s Taxonomy of Behavioral Objectives- or, as we have referred to it, the Building Blocks of Learning (See Tip #8).

It is essential to clearly identify the desired level of learning we want the participants to attain. This means that we need to decide whether our aim during the course of the workshop is for the participants to: know the information, but not understand it [KNOWLEDGE]; know and understand it [COMPREHENSION]; or know, understand, and use it [APPLICATION]. These are the first three of six progressive building blocks of learning (otherwise known as Bloom’s Taxonomy of Behavioral Objectives).

It is unlikely that a trainer will ever intentionally aim only for the lowest rung, or KNOWLEDGE. At the very least, we want participants to both know and understand what they are taught [COMPREHENSION]. If our intention is to change attitudes, then COMPREHENSION may be the highest level of learning we can accomplish. However, if our intention is to build or strengthen specific skills, APPLICATION must be our minimum desired learning level.

APPLICATION is the launching pad for all higher-level thinking. Once our participants have demonstrated that they know, comprehend, and can apply new information or skills, they are ready for the last three building blocks of learning: ANALYSIS, SYNTHESIS, and EVALUATION.

If the participants will need to organize and reorganize information into categories, the desired level of learning is ANALYSIS. If they will need to create something new, the desired level is SYNTHESIS. If they will need to make judgments when there is no one answer, then the desired level of learning is EVALUATION.

At this step, we:

a. Select the most appropriate level of learning for each essential factor.

b. Ensure that the levels of learning are consistent with the training goals.*

c. Remedy any inconsistency by either adjusting the levels of learning or rewriting the training goals.*

d. Keep in mind that there should be a natural progression through the levels of learning, from knowledge to comprehension to application, and further, if appropriate. *

Note that at this step, we also have checks and balances. At (b) and (c), we make sure that the selected learning levels are appropriate to accomplish the established training goals. If we feel that application is necessary but our training goals do not make that clear, we will have to rewrite the training goals.

At (d), we make sure that we are not jumping directly to application if we have not either provided knowledge or checked for comprehension prior to that. Also, if the content has a safety component, we must check for comprehension prior to any application.

Next week, we will look at the checklist for the fifth lesson planning step, which is creating the learning objectives. Since we have already established the essential content in Step 3 and the desired level of learning in Step 4, all we will need to do in Step 5 is to add an active verb (appropriate for the learning level) and we will have our learning objectives!

 

This week, we will look how to create the learning objectives. Since we have already established the essential content in Step 3 and the desired level of learning in Step 4, all we will need to do in Step 5 is to add an active verb (appropriate for the learning level) and we will have our learning objectives!

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