In creating practical skills assessments for AEC firms, we try to offer a blend of question styles and types. Some questions are task based (i.e. the user needs to physically perform a task, usually relating to a particular technical software application, in order to figure out the right answer). Some questions are knowledge, or theory, based (i.e. the user should be able to answer the question without referring to any other resources, or opening up a software program).
Before we examine question types, however, it might be helpful to take a look at how people learn - an accepted definition of the cognitive process.
"Taxonomy" is a system of categorizing and organizing. 'Bloom's Taxonomy' is a system created to improve testing precision by categorizing cognitive functioning into different levels. Appropriate questions could then be developed to assess the desired level. Psychologist Benjamin Bloom developed this system at the University of Chicago in the late 1940s. His goal was to improve the quality of discussion of educational goals among teachers, administrators, and researchers.
Bloom's levels are, in ascending order:
In this case, the taxonomy is hierarchical; each level is subsumed by the higher levels. In other words, a student functioning at the "application" level has also mastered the material at the "knowledge" and "comprehension" levels.
Let's take a brief look at each stage - and what it means in terms of a learner's level of understanding..
Recall content in the exact form that it was presented. Memorization of definitions, formulas, or procedures are examples of knowledge-level functioning.
Types of action: List, define, label, identify, name.
Restate material in their own words, or can recognize previously unseen examples of a concept.
Types of action: Describe, associate, categorize, summarize.
Apply rules to a problem, without being given the rule or formula for solving the problem.
Types of action: Apply, calculate, illustrate, solve.
Break complex concepts or situations down into their component parts, and analyze how the parts are related to one another.
Types of action: Analyze, compare, separate, order, explain.
Rearrange component parts to form a new whole.
Types of action: Combine, modify, rearrange, "what-if".
Evaluate or make judgments on the worth of a concept, object, etc. for a purpose.
Types of action: Assess, decide, grade, recommend, explain, judge.
In my next blog, we'll take a look at the different types of question, which typically make up a skills assessment.