Without a doubt, one of the most fundamental expectations of any student within a university setting is the ability to read and comprehend empirical research. When a student enters into a graduate setting, he/she is expected to be able to extend a basic understanding of empirical research to a more concrete understanding of research as indicative of the ability to produce complex written work. The majority of this work involves the writing of literature reviews. The skills needed to produce complex literature reviews are often overlooked in many academic institutions. Granello (2001) proposes an innovative method for teaching the necessary skills through the utility of Bloom’s Taxonomy.
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In her article, she delineates that Bloom’s Taxonomy was one of the first models to conceptualize the skills necessary to produce competent graduate-level writing. Bloom’s taxonomy is essentially a six-level hierarchy of skills with each skill building on the prior and finally culminating with the ability to evaluate the pertinent literature. At the lowest level of the hierarchy is knowledge. Knowledge is operationally defined as the most fundamental ability to recall information and be able to understand the ideas expressed on a very abstract level. Comprehension is at the second level of the hierarchy and this is operationally defined as the ability to understand the meaning of the materials in question.
This is followed by the application of the materials being read. Essentially this speaks directly to the ability to take very esoteric theoretical constructs and apply them to situations in such a manner as to produce concrete solutions or concrete ways in which the constructs could be looked at. At the fourth level of this hierarchy is the notion of analysis. Analysis refers to the ability to take the concepts or constructs introduced and break them down into their elemental components.
In so doing, the student can see the relationship between the components and identify trends within the literature. After the analysis is done, synthesis occurs. Synthesis refers to the ability of a student to take the elemental parts derived during the analysis and put them back together in a new manner. This is done to add new insight into old subjects. Finally, at the top of the hierarchy is evaluation. The process of evaluation speaks directly to the ability of the student to assess the value of the material about the purpose of the research effort.
Overall, this article provided a very in-depth approach to teaching students to write literature reviews utilizing Bloom’s taxonomy. This article provided a great deal of insight into the ability of students to write on an advanced level. It was most poignant in its delineation of the necessity of students in institutions of higher learning to develop writing skills.
This article is extremely useful in that it proposed a step-by-step methodology that can be applied by professors and tutors to ascertain that students depart from their academic situations with a fundamental understanding of the components necessary in academic writing. Essentially, it began with fundamental cognitive tasks as the foundation of academic writing and then used those fundamental tasks as a building block on which more advanced cognitive skills could be built. The most admirable aspects of this article proved to be the fact that it was clear, concise, and succinct. Additionally, it contained a tabular summary of the application of Bloom’s Taxonomy.
Granello, D.H. (2001). Promoting cognitive complexity in graduate written work: Using Bloom’s Taxonomy as a pedagogical tool to improve literature reviews. Counselor Education & Supervision, 40, 292-307.
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