Going SOLO

A few months ago I wrote about some of the concerns people have had with ubiquity of Bloom’s Taxonomy and that there were other, perhaps more useful taxonomies around. Well, since then I’ve been quietly experimenting with SOLO (Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes) developed by Biggs and Collis. Biggs says

As learning progresses it becomes more complex. SOLO, is a means of classifying learning outcomes in terms of their complexity, enabling us to assess students’ work in terms of its quality not of how many bits of this and of that they got right. At first we pick up only one or few aspects of the task (unistructural), then several aspects but they are unrelated (multistructural), then we learn how to integrate them into a whole (relational), and finally, we are able to generalised that whole to as yet untaught applications (extended abstract).

The Learning and Teaching website have come up with some wonderful diagrams to illustrate the 5 levels of learning he describes which are well worth looking at, and I found a nifty little presentation on slideshare:

So, how can we use it in lessons? Well, one suggestion is to use SOLO to create differentiated learning objectives (intentions, outcomes, aims or whatever you want to call them). The thinking is that this will challenge all students to make progress no matter their starting point. I’ve tried this out but am still finding it all a bit cumbersome. Where I think it makes more of difference is in designing success criteria for the work you want students to do. Where it really comes into its own is the ease with which teacher and students can share a common language to enable student to make progress from your feedback. It’s fairly straightforward to be able to assess whether a student is working at a multi-structural or a relational level and it’s correspondingly obvious to students how they have to improve.

The Hooked on Thinking website have masses of resources to get you started with SOLO, but this is one of the best:

3 Responses to Going SOLO

  1. [...] I’m really excited about SOLO taxonomy and have written about it here. The objective was for the students to begin thinking about powerful forces in Of Mice and Men and [...]

  2. [...] to what your students are learning. And if anyone’s interested, both Geoff and I advocated SOLO taxonomy as a means to stuff that knowledge down as far as it will go. And as a post script, I found an [...]

  3. [...] teacher, I’m required to provide interesting questions and to assess the learning. SOLO taxonomy is the perfect tool to direct students to deepening their knowledge. Also, I need to let the [...]

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