Both the science of learning outcomes or objectives and adaptive learning originated at about the same time in the 1950’s. They have been connected ever since. The goal of both is to enhance cognition which comprises the mental processes involved in knowing, understanding, and thinking.
In the 1950’s, Benjamin Bloom invented a cognitive taxonomy embraced by American educators. Revised in 2001 by Lorin Anderson and David Krathwohl, Bloom’s Taxonomy became more dynamic, reflecting the interactivity of contemporary education contexts. The list has six categories. It moves from the simplest form of cognition, knowledge/remembering, to the most complex, evaluation/creating.*
By connecting Bloom’s scientific categorization of teaching and learning, educators could measure instructional and student achievement more precisely. The learning objective, which was gaining traction in education at about the same time, has become that connector.
Learning objectives are statements that describe an act that can be measured. A learning objective always includes an action verb and a specific goal to be achieved, showing learning through performance. The type of verb used can indicate which level of Bloom’s is meant to be accomplished. For example “define” engenders remembering; “describe” engenders understanding; and “build” engenders creating. A robust learning program includes the whole range of Bloom’s taxonomy in its learning outcomes.
Adaptive learning has come a long way from its 1950’s origins in B.F. Skinner’s primitive teaching machine which focused on immediate feedback, individual pacing, and incremental learning.
Adaptive learning today involves the use of technology to provide students with a customized experience based on their previous accomplishments and progress with subject content, practice activities, and assessments. The student is offered hints to help them succeed and is presented with more or less challenging materials based on their learning process and performance.
In order to measure and adapt based on “progress,” adaptive courseware has to articulate the objectives of that progress. So as in formative assessment, learning objectives or outcomes are integral to adapting student learning pathways.
In Acrobatiq courseware , learning outcomes reflect Bloom’s taxonomy in hierarchies from simple to complex. For example, achieving the complex learning outcome, Analyze the causes of World War II, depends on students achieving simpler cognitive levels of learning objectives such as:
Name the nations in the Axis powers and the Allies. [Remembering]
Discuss economic conditions in Europe before World War II. [Understanding]
The learning objective determines the type of activity attached to it. For example, a simulation supports application while a matching exercise supports remembering.
Most importantly, Acrobatiq adaptive learning courseware captures data as students go through the program to pinpoint their strengths and weaknesses on the way to achieving the more complex objective. And, of course, the student is provided relevant material to strengthen their learning on lower-order cognitive levels or skills to ensure their success at higher-level thinking.
|Knowledge/Remembering||Recall facts and basic concepts.|
|Comprehension/Understanding||Connect concepts through interpretation and organization.|
|Application/Applying||Solve problems using acquired knowledge.|
|Analysis/Analyzing||Use evidence, knowledge and data to draw conclusions, infer, and conclude.|
|Synthesis/Evaluating||Create a plan or product based on elaborated ideas/Present opinions based on criteria.|
|Evaluation/Creating||Assess based on criteria/Present new ideas or solutions by innovative organization of evidence|