Bloom's v. SOLO: Some Thoughts

This may seem like the long way round to get to my topic, but I want to trace it back in good faith.  I follow Kelly Gallagher (@KellyGToGo), who posted this article regarding Bloom’s Taxonomy from Ron Berger (@RonBergerEL).  Long story short, the article brought me back to some work I’d done with a teacher on SOLO Taxonomy (Structure of Observed Learning Outcome), which is a conceptualization of the learning process developed by Collis and Biggs in 1982.  It has been adopted by the Visible Learning organization as their schema for the recursive nature of knowledge creation.  A diagram is below.


What Berger was getting at in his article, is that Bloom’s problematizes learning stages by placing them in a hierarchy which seems to prioritize attainment of the pinnacle value as ideal.  With SOLO Taxonomy, the value of the learner’s knowledge attainment is not based on an arbitrary definition of complexity, but rather that knowledge’s utility to the learner’s own growth.  This model recognizes the recursive nature of authentic learning, and leaves some wiggle room for what constitutes the requisite knowledge.

SOLO is a little more straightforward than Bloom’s in its use, and is process-based.  SOLO is not necessarily based upon achieving the highest type of knowledge, but rather the ability to use the knowledge gained as seeds for developing and growing new understandings.  So how did I use it with the teacher I partnered with?  Well, we would break down the unit goals into the individual stages, and then based on pre-assessments we would then see if the students fell where they needed to be in the taxonomy.  SOLO, by name, is outcome-based, and reflects a different rationale than Bloom’s which tends to veer toward the value of knowledge for knowledge’s sake—which for some is an insufficient reason to work toward the highest level of attainment.  At any rate, all systems become problematic as they are used more and more, and really my hope is that by introducing SOLO, or reminding people of it, might give an additional option to build context for how students are building knowledge.