Creation of what?

When we talk about the use of technology in schools we often note how the technology can be leveraged to increase students’ level of thinking.  Bloom’s taxonomy placed “creating” (used to be synthesis) near the top of the “thinking pyramid”.  I agree that creating is something we ought to be having students do, but there are some subtle traps awaiting our implementation.

When teachers have students create a Powerpoint about topic X, the students are not necessarily creating using their understanding of topic X, they are creating using their understanding of Powerpoint and maybe topic X.  A students can know little about X and still be able to create a wonderful presentation about X.

For example, students might create a Powerpoint about density that has loads of examples and explanations of density, but not really use this information in any meaningful way – other than to “present” it.  Instead, if students create a solution to a problem (how can we separate oil from water), or design a product (a submarine) using their knowledge of density the creative act is much more closely aligned with the intended content.  Also, notice other thinking such as application and analyzing come into play.

So, have kids create, just be careful about what they are creating.  Despite the obvious mental development benefits, creation may distract us (and students) from the intended learning goals.

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6 Responses to Creation of what?

  1. Good point, though I hope that no one is confusing PowerPoint presentation with the “creation” level of Bloom’s taxonomy.

    Most student PowerPoint presentations are just cut-and-paste mashups of things they found on the internet. Quite often they don’t represent even the lowest levels of the Taxonomy as the students neither know nor understand the material they are “presenting”.

    • jerridkruse says:

      I used powerpoint as an “easy to understand” example. I think these same traps exist with many other technologies.

      Also, I think there are some teachers who think creating a powerpoint = higher order thinking. :)

  2. johntspencer says:

    I don’t like the way Marzano messed with it, especially given the fact that Benjamin Bloom specifically labeled it as a cognitive rather than a behavioral domain. To him, behavior fit into his psychomotor domain and he still believed in the power of reaching the affective domain.

    He never presented it as a pyramid, for that matter, or as something that happens sequentially. However, he saw evaluation as more important than synthesis, because it moved past the Hegelian synthesis and into a larger judgment of truth or accuracy.

    It bothers me that the language, the intent and the visuals have been transformed into something that is not, in any sense, Bloom’s Taxonomy.

    Marzano is a collage artist and a dangerous one at that, not because he fails to be objective, but because he is so seductively subjective that people often miss it.

    • jerridkruse says:

      Thanks for adding some “smart” to the blog, John. :) I did not know that the current pyramid graphic came from Marzano – he’s one of those guys I’ve kind of always doubted. Mostly because all of his “ideas” are just repackaged ideas that can be found in education journals decades before he said it. He is a filter – and I fear that through his filter we lose important aspects.

      Anyway. My post and your comment brings to mind the term “active mental engagement”. We must be careful about what kids are engaged in. Are they engaged with the tool or the content? The product or the process? There is a time for both, but when we think kids are engaged with one, but they are actually engaged with the other, we are misled.

  3. Excellent thoughts. Frequently technology becomes the focus of the lesson rather than an amplifier of it.

  4. I guess my question would be how do we get students to focus more on the assignment than the tools you use to do the assignment. I can remember being in school and just trying to get through some projects. I didn’t retain a whole lot because the pressure of setting up the work was more than actually collecting the information needed to complete the project. When we apply this to technology, I think that there is a fine line between “topic X” and the resources we use to present it.

    I guess the next point would be that until we stop putting such an emphasis on letter grades, then students can relax and actually learn and retain the topic as well as become more knowledgeable about the technology they use to present the topic. Grades are important, but they should be based more on skills than remembering regurgitated facts.

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