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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Learning Outcomes and Social Influence on Cognitive Networks

Yesterday I attended a talk on Technology and Soft Skills that included the following slide (at 25 minutes, 50 seconds):


This part of the discussion, and this slide in particular, reminded me of a prior blog entry of mine where I address the limitations of Bloom's taxonomy in how many interpret various cognitive processes as discrete behavioral outcomes.  In my view, too many teachers take an image like this and adhere solely on setting behavioral (i.e., instructional) objectives that result in a limited view of the actual learning process.  Eisner (1969, 1979) sought for a balance "among instructional, problem-solving, and expressive outcomes as curriculum experiences" (as stated in Serviovanni, 1999, p. 109), and discussions of Bloom's taxonomy does little to promote Eisner's view.

Also, the bottom row includes "social knowledge" as a separate, hierarchical objective, but to me, the "social" occurs at every cognitive process listed here.  We must interact to "remember", "understand", etc., - using Bloom's language - and we must connect how we take facts that ultimately lead to how we create things.  The social aspect of learning really is the "backdrop" or context that helps us connect learning objects, people, nodes, etc. in a way that influences (positively or negatively) the cognitive connections that we form (i.e., learning).  The social is necessary in order to learn.  True, we can learn certain things on our own, but what's the use if we don't take that knowledge and interact with someone.  On the other hand, creating a social environment is no guarantee one will learn either.  So we need the social network to learn, but more importantly, we need to consider the social ties we form in order to evaluate the influence it has on the cognitive network.