Reader advisory: this is “repurposed legacy content.” In other words, I’m recycling something I wrote elsewhere.
Quite a while ago, someone in a discussion forum said:
“The first time I met Bloom’s taxonomy terms, I was appalled. Know, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate are wide open terms with no accountability that would never have been accepted in any RFP that I’d ever seen as a standard of service level commitment or project achievement.”
This, with slight editing, was my reply:
Well, now. This is kind of like criticizing the poet Homer for not painting better pictures.
I can’t help that [this person] was “appalled,” but I’d bet $25 against a box of stale doughnuts that legions of trainers have been thankful for Bloom’s levels, at least for the cognitive domain, and especially for concrete examples to use as models for their own objectives.
Since Bloom and his colleagues called it a taxonomy and not a proposal for a service-level agreement, the first question would be whether their system does in fact provide categories for a body of knowledge.
You may disagree with whether there ought to be six main categories or five or seven, you may argue with the terms or the subcategories, but it’s hard to dispute that this system provides categories.
For general usefulness in training, if I had $100 in award money to dole out, I’d send $75 to Bloom and $15 to Kirkpatrick, who’s managed an entire career off of a two-page notion.
(I’d keep the rest for expenses.)
Imagine your client says, “I want people to understand the SHILLELAGH System.” You could get into a Talmudic discussion about what the client means (does the Talmud actually deal with shillelaghs?). Or you could work with the client to clarify the meaning–in a discussion, not an RFP.
- “Do you want people simply to be able to describe the system, label parts of it, tell what it does?” (Remembering)
- “Do you want people to distinguish the Shillelagh system from its predecessor, the Sassenach system? Do you want them to describe how it might handle certain situations? Do you want them to be able to read reports or displays from the system?” (Understanding)
- “Do you want people to use the Shillelagh System to enter new orders, track problems, answer customer questions, transfer leprechauns?” (Applying)
- “Do you want people to explain the subsystems that make up Shillelagh? Do you want them to describe how data moves from the Banshee database via the Poteen processor into Shillelagh? Do you want them to identify where the heaviest requests are or the greatest workload occurs?” (Analyzing)
- “Do you want them to assess whether we should adopt the Shillelagh system or the competing Napoleonic Nodal system? Do you want them to make recommendations for using this year’s capital budget as it relates to online ceilis? Do you want them to produce recommendations to help the senior executive council decide whether to continue work on Shillelagh or outsource to our strategic partners in Bangalore?” (Evaluating)
- “Do you want people to develop ideas for new applications within Shillelagh, or for new systems to compliment what Shillelagh does? Do you want them to take data or components from different parts of Shillelagh and develop new reports aimed at greater efficiency or productivity? Do you want them to describe new demands that are likely to be made on the database as a result of the merger with Connemara Computers?” (Creating)
Considering how often in forums like this we see that foolishness about how we remember 90% of what we smell but only 10% of what we eat, or however that goes, I couldn’t stand by while Benjamin Bloom gets slighted for not writing functional specifications.
Often, when your client says, “I want X,” that means you owe it to yourself and to your client to get a LOT of clarification about what X means, about how you can tell a good X from a bad one, and what the factors are that affect how well people can produce Xs in real life. Then you can work with your client to figure out what the cost of X is, what the cost of getting X might be, and whether in Tom Gilbert’s phrase the getting of X is a worthy accomplishment.
Sometimes that means helping your client see how “training” will not produce valuable results because the X problem doesn’t arise from a lack of skill or knowledge.
Do(ugh)nut photo by gillicious.