The first time I took an online graduate course, I was required to respond in a blog to journal readings and responses of other students. Some student comments were truly insightful, and I learned from them. But others were trite. Lately these student responses have me considering how to write appropriate entries.
One good approach to this kind of writing is to use Bloom’s taxonomy. Briefly, the taxonomy ranks thinking from easiest to most difficult:
- Remembering (repeating word-for-word or by using synonyms),
- Understanding (defining or explaining the meaning),
- Applying (showing how a concept has been used elsewhere or can be used in different circumstances),
- Analyzing (breaking a concept into its components)
- Evaluating (determining values of competing concepts or components), and
- Synthesizing (creating new concepts by fusing existing concepts or using an existing concept as a starting point).
Let’s take a well-known piece of writing, Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” and apply Bloom’s taxonomy to responses we might write about it.
- Unacceptable (personal comments, off-topic comments, liking or not liking with no explanation)
- Remembering (repeating a line or two, naming an idea previously stated by the teacher, but adding no new information)
- Understanding (summarizing the poem, paraphrasing it, but adding no new information)
- Applying (discussing rhythm, rhyme, figures of speech and other poetic elements that Frost used in the poem)
- Analyzing (discussing patterns of rhyme or diction, discussing published critiques of the poem)
- Evaluating (discussing where this poem ranks among Frost’s poems, how it rates compared to the work of other poets, discussing criterion used to rank the poem), and
- Synthesizing (writing a poem or other artistic expression using the style or content of the poem, such as the illustration for this blog; writing a sequel to the poem; writing a poem in a completely different style to express the ideas of the poem).