Sunday, June 17, 2012

How Do You Know?

I've been reading Jeffrey L. Buller's The Essential College Professor, as I'm thinking about this mentoring program for new faculty.  I thought I'd pass on some ideas from the chapter on Assessing Student Learning. This is probably the hardest and most time consuming (if done well) activity of teaching.  While for some this is well known, I'm sure there are those for whom this is new or needs refreshing.

Buller points out that you have to know what your learning goals are for the students before you can assess them.  And as part of this discussion he identifies different ways people have described 'knowing.'

Column 1Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning and Knowing Processes (1956)
  • Knowledge
  • Comprehension
  • Application
  • Analysis
  • Synthesis
  • Evaluation

Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences (1983)
  • Musical
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic
  • Logical-mathematical intelligence
  • Linguistic intelligence
  • Spatial intelligence
  • Interpersonal intelligence
  • Intrapersonal intelligence
  • PLUS (2003)
  • Naturalist intelligence
  • Spiritual intelligence
Anderson and Krathwohl’s Respose to Bloom (2001)
6 Cognitive processes
  • Remembering:  Recognizing, recalling, and retrieving relevant knowledge from long-term memory
  • Understanding
  • Applying
  • Analyzing
  • Evaluating
  • Creating
4 Kinds of knowledge
  • Factual knowledge
  • Conceptual
  • Procedural
  • Metacognitive

The links will give you more information on each model.
Fink’s Taxonomy of Significant Learning
  • Foundational Knowledge.  Understanding and remembering:
    • information
    • ideas
  • Application.  Utilizing
    • skills
    • thinking  - critical, creative, practical
    • managing projects
  • Integration.  Connecting:
    • ideas
    • people
    • realms of life
  • Human dimension.  Learning about:
    • oneself
    • others
  • Caring.  Developing new:
    • feelings
    • Interests
    • values
  • Learning how to learn by:
    • becoming a better student
    • inquiring about a subject
    • improving as a self-directed learner

It's useful to recognize that there are different ways of 'knowing' and different kinds of intelligence. Mostly college grades focus on logical-mathematical intelligence, but as Gardner points out, there are other kinds of intelligence that are important.

The chapter doesn't really tell us how to apply these models to construct class goals and to assess student work except in the most general way.  It does highlight an important thought on teaching:
Truly effective instruction is not measured by how much college professors teach, but by how much college students learn.

That ought to be posted above every college professor's desk. 


  1. Boof!

    But now I know...

    Re your June 4 Post re blog evaluation, you said,
    "But at times I find that my self imposed schedule (at least once a day) and content standards (see below) cause me tension."

    I must say a daily post causes ME tension. I can't keep up. I want to think about your posts and make an apposite comment, but I feel like Lucy & Ethel at their chocolate factory job. (Your posts can be so rich and tasty.)

    Do other readers feel the same?

  2. Barbara, as someone who grew up as a preacher's kid, I recognise a hopeless case when I read one (yes, you did notice 'preacher' and 'recognise' in one sentence -- I am now dual national USA-UK). Our professor just can't quite bring himself to retire yet we love him anyway... and still offer [recklessly] our faint versions of brilliance in spite of it all.

    Keep 'em coming, Herr Professor Aufrecht!

  3. Hey, I gave you flowers to just look at. This one was actually pretty easy since I'm reading the book and taking notes is how I remember things. And since I was that far along, I could put up some of it in a table. If any of my former students comment here, they'll tell you this is nothing. We don't have much time on earth to figure things out, so we need to take advantage of what we have.

    Thanks though for the comments Barbara and Jacob. I do appreciate you coming along for the ride and chiming in now and then.


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