Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Blooming Creativity

In 1956, Benjamin Bloom headed a group of educational psychologists in developing a system which  classified levels of learning mastery into several levels of behavior.

During the 1990's a group of cognitive psychologists lead by Lorin Anderson, who was a former student of Bloom's, updated the descriptions. The latest version looks like this:

For each level there is a description of the types of activities or behaviors which occur at that level:

Remembering: define, duplicate, list, memorize, recall, repeat, reproduce state.

Understanding: classify, describe, discuss, explain, identify, locate, recognize, report, select, translate, paraphrase

Applying: choose, demonstrate, dramatize, employ, illustrate, interpret, operate, schedule, sketch, solve, use, write.

Analyzing: appraise, compare, contrast, criticize, differentiate, discriminate, distinguish, examine, experiment, question, test.

Evaluating: appraise, argue, defend, judge, select, support, value, evaluate.

Creating: assemble, construct, create, design, develop, formulate, write.

Another description of the create level is; "Assembling, constructing, or designing a new product or point-of-view."

I'm seeing some very strong correlations between the activities of Bloom's levels and the activities of Design Thinking; Empathize, Prototype, Build, Test and Storytelling.

Here is another way of organizing Bloom's system:

I'm thinking there are at least two implications of this; first Bloom offers another framework to understand and teach creativity. Second; Since teachers have developed methods to create lesson plans within this framework, perhaps that process can be applied to teaching Design Thinking.

There is also a very interesting article called Innovation as a Learning Process: Embedding Design Thinking, which is well worth the read.

Here is another way to structure Bloom's approach. The red border box is around levels 5 and 6 where the highest degree of term correlation exists with Design Thinking.

For a teacher, Bloom's Taxonomy provides a way to establish measurable goals in lesson plans - what they call learning objectives or outcomes. This makes a lot of sense, as the goal of a teacher is to create an environment where students can become masters of the subject - no matter what the subject.

In another sense, Bloom's Taxonomy is a framework for achieving mastery of problem solving and creativity, as it's highest levels are describing behaviors which are key elements of Design Thinking. Another parallel aspect of Bloom is its focus; Bloom's outcomes focus on what the learner needs to know, not the instructor. In that regard they are learner (user) ­centric.

Here are some links to articles about Bloom's Taxonomy that should be instructive;

Bloom’s Taxonomy of Critical Thinking

Verbs for Learning Outcomes

Action Verbs for Learning Objectives

This should be of great interest to anyone teaching Design Thinking to educators, as it provides a natural bridge between their POV and the Design Thinker's POV.

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