« All Episodes

Using Bloom's Taxonomy to Learn More Intentionally

Published 3/12/2018

How would you go about discovering if you actually learned something you wanted to learn? Today's episode is about evaluating whether or not you've learned something and how to shape your learning process.

Today's episode is sponsored by Linode.

In 2018, Linode is joining forces with Developer Tea listeners by offering you $20 of credit - that's 4 months of FREE service on the 1GB tier - for free! Head over to https://spec.fm/linode and use the code DEVELOPERTEA2018 at checkout.

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
How would you go about figuring out if you've actually learned something that you've set out to learn? That's what we're talking about in today's episode of Developer Tea. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and my goal on this show is to help you become a better developer to help driven developers connect to their career purpose so that they can do better work and have a positive impact on the people they have influence over. The goal of the show we're going to get straight into today's topic, evaluating whether you've learned something and beyond evaluating whether you've learned something, you can actually use the same material that we're covering today can be used to shape your learning process as well. So we're going to talk about all of that in today's episode. But first I want you to take a moment and think about how you learn. Now, there's some old kind of typical stories about how people learn differently, how I'm a visual learner and another person may be a tactile learner where they feel like they need to actually do something with the material that they're learning. And overall, there's a lot of opinions and there's a lot of difference between each of us in the way that we learn. But there's a few things that stay the same between all of us as well. But in today's episode, I want to give you kind of a history lesson. It's a little bit of a different type of episode for Developer Tea. But I want to give you the history of something called the Bloom Taxonomy. Bloom's Taxonomy. In 1956, man named Benjamin Bloom actually created this taxonomy and it was pointed at kind of creating a better way of educating, specifically kind of K through 12 teachers where the goal audience for this. So the original taxonomy from 1956, it started with knowledge and then comprehension and then application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. And you can imagine these parts of the taxonomy in a pyramid structure and you can go and view this online very easily if you just Google Bloom's taxonomy. There was a revision to this taxonomy and this one came out in 2001 and this is the revised version. Remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate and finally create. And there's some sub parts to this taxonomy that you can see if you go online. But I want to kind of talk about this from a high level perspective for today's episode. The idea of this taxonomy is that as you understand more about a subject, you begin to have more agency with that subject. You begin to be able to go from just having wrote knowledge, remembering something, to understanding it. So how do you evaluate if you can understand something? Well, you can classify it. You can describe it to someone else. You can have a discussion about it. These are all things that are part of the built taxonomy that Bloom created. The next kind of piece of proving that you understand something is by actually taking it and applying it. This is to implement or solve something using this information to demonstrate, interpret, operate, schedule, sketch. These are all ways of showing that you can apply some information. The next step up with the latter is to analyze. By the way, these kind of remind me of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. As you move up the hierarchy, things become more complex and maybe a little bit more sophisticated in terms of the way they apply to us. So analyzing, you can differentiate, you can organize, you can relate. The next step up is evaluate. So you can argue or defend. You can judge. You can support. You can critique. And then the final step is creation. Using that information to design, to construct, to develop, to formulate, to author. Again, these are all words that are coming straight out of the taxonomy, various parts of the taxonomy that Bloom created. So why is this important? We're going to take a quick sponsor break and then we're going to come back and talk about how you can use Bloom's taxonomy to kind of evaluate and design your own learning program. So we'll take you through each of the steps in that taxonomy and apply it to a more practical problem. Today's episode is sponsored by Linode. Linode was launched in 2003 by a bunch of people who love solving problems. Not only do they love solving problems, but they also love programming. They're a bunch of developers like you or me. And it's been their philosophy since the beginning to share their creation with others. And this is what I love about Linode is that it's a bunch of developers who have solved some problems for themselves. They've turned around and they've decided to share this with other developers. With Linode, you can get a server up and running in just a few seconds. You pick a plan, pick a distribution, and pick a location. And essentially you're off to the races after that. Linode has SSD storage, a 40 gigabit internal network, and everything runs on Intel E5 processors. These are the fastest processors in the cloud market. Linode is also going to offer you $20 worth of credit. Head over to Respect.fm-slash-linode and use the code Developer Tea 2018. That's Developer Tea 2018 all one word. And you'll get $20 worth of credit. Again, head over to Respect.fm-slash-linode. Thank you again to Linode for sponsoring today's episode. And by the way, Linode plans start at just $5 a month and they have super high end plans as well. So pretty much everything is covered on Linode. Go and check it out. Respect. Linode. So we're talking about Bloom's taxonomy today. Bloom's taxonomy. This taxonomy, again, was created to help people who are in the classroom setting to devise a lesson plan, to devise evaluation plans to understand, have I actually gotten this subject? Do I really understand what's going on with this subject? And as a side note, I really recommend if you haven't done anything like this before, go and look at some of the teaching materials that are available. Some of the research on teaching and the research is also on learning just kind of by extension. What you learn is there's a lot about the subject that we know, but there's also a lot that is still yet to be discovered because we're still learning about how we learn as humans. So this is one way that you can approach kind of crafting a more intentional way that you engage a new subject in order to learn it. So let's go back through the taxonomy and then we'll apply it to a more practical scenario so we can see how we may be able to design a learning plan. Remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, and create. Okay, so let's say that I'm a Ruby developer and I want to learn JavaScript. I know a little bit about it because I've done a few websites here and there, I've used jQuery maybe, but I want to learn JavaScript. So how might I use Bloom's taxonomy along the way? Well, first, I'm going to go and look at some other people's code. This is going to expose me to JavaScript so that I actually have a little bit to start remembering. The next piece that I might cover is looking at some kind of syntax and remembering certain things about JavaScript. So I might start with the LearnX in Y minutes. If you haven't seen this, certainly go and Google it. It's an excellent website for getting just a little bit of exposure to a language, a new programming language, but I might go and look at some of the rules around the syntax for JavaScript only trying to remember them, right? Not trying to necessarily use them, not trying to write anything with them yet, but only to remember them. And then we'll step up the ladder one step and try to understand how those syntax rules work together. So I remember the rules, but I'm not really sure why the rules exist. I'm trying to understand how they work together. So figuring out how can I look at some code and understand generally speaking what's going on? How might I be able to describe that's an object or that's an array? Now I want to take it up to the next level of understanding to Application. During application, I might answer some quiz questions about JavaScript. Maybe I'll write a little piece of code that performs a simple algorithm, right? This isn't something that I'm creating for myself. Remember that's going to be the last step in Bloom's Taxonomy, but instead this is just applying the knowledge that I have to be able to answer some kind of questions. This is basically the moment that synthesis has begun, right? So we've moved beyond only understanding and only remembering. These are things that happen only in our heads. And now we've moved into a little bit more analysis phase, right? And in fact, the next step up this Taxonomy is analysis, analyze. So what can we do in this step? Well, we may take some Ruby code that does a similar kind of algorithmic process. And we might write the equivalent JavaScript code. Or maybe we look at the primitives in Ruby and compare them to the primitives in JavaScript, the fundamental types that both of those languages have. Or maybe we look at a piece of Ruby, like popular Ruby code that has been well documented or a lot of people use it. And then we look at the same thing in JavaScript. And we analyze, we differentiate. Remember, that's the key word for analysis for that part of the Taxonomy. We can differentiate, we can relate things, we can compare them, we can distinguish them from each other, right? The next step up the Taxonomy. This is the second and the last step, but it's the evaluation stage, right? At this point, we might be forming opinions about JavaScript. We may form an opinion about the design of the language, or maybe the syntax of the language, or we might start thinking about, you know, what is JavaScript going to be good for? What will it do better than Ruby? Or what will it do worse than Ruby? These are things that I'm evaluating. I'm creating my own critique. I'm creating my own arguments, my own defenses for this newfound knowledge. And then finally, we get to the creation phase, right? This is the end point of Bloom's Taxonomy. This is to create something novel, or at least somewhat novel, with your newfound knowledge. This would actually be writing your own application, maybe launching something with JavaScript, maybe solving a problem that you have with it. Ultimately, at this point, you've stepped through all of those points in the Taxonomy. This is only one perspective of how learning works. And the reality is, you know, if you go back and listen to an episode that we called Spiral Learning, you could go through this same Taxonomy multiple times with a given subject, right? You could go back to the bottom of this pyramid and start back at remembering and refreshing the way that you think about a given subject, or refreshing your knowledge on that subject. And iterating on that knowledge, there's nothing to stop you from going back through that process, relearning fundamental things. You know, if you've been a programmer for very long, then you can probably attest to this fact that when you go back and look at fundamentals that you haven't looked at in a long time, usually there's some kind of epiphany that results. So it's very important that we understand the way that our minds work, and we continue to seek more understanding about how learning works. We can use these frameworks, these taxonomies, the work that has been done by psychologists and educators and neuroscientists and economists, and all of these various kind of research positions. We can use this information to become more effective at the learning process and ultimately become more effective as developers. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. Once again, a huge thank you to Leno, to we wouldn't be able to do what we do without our sponsors. And Leno is helping you do what you do as a developer. Head of respect at FM slash Leno, and you'll get $20 worth of credit for using the code Developer Tea2018 at checkout. That's all one word. Respect at FM slash Leno. Thank you so much for listening, and I do want to take a moment and thank those of you. We've taken the time to go and leave a review in iTunes and subscribe specifically in iTunes. This is so important because iTunes kind of acts as the central hub for most of the podcast applications that you see, you know, the mobile applications. The way these applications choose what to show you is mostly through iTunes. So this is the best way you can help other developers just like you find the show. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode. And until next time, enjoy your tea.