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Learning Goals

Being in charge of your learning means you must decide what you will learn. There are many different things you can learn, so understanding what you are learning will help you identify the best ways to learn those things. Educational researcher, Benjamin Bloom, identified four dimensions of knowledge or categories for the different things we can learn:

  1. Factual Knowledge – basic information or facts related to a particular discipline
    • Terminology
    • Specific details and elements
  2. Conceptual Knowledge – interrelationships of basic facts within a larger structure
    • Classifications and Categories
    • Principles and Generalizations
    • Theories, Models, and Structures
  3. Procedural Knowledge – procedures, methods, and criteria for doing something
    • Subject-specific Skills and Algorithms
    • Subject-specific Techniques and Methods
    • Criteria for determining when to use appropriate Procedures
  4. Metacognitive Knowledge – understanding how we and others think
    • Strategy
    • Appropriate contextual and conditional knowledge about learning tasks
    • Self-Knowledge

Everything you study in a course can be broken down into one of these four categories of knowledge. How you study each type of knowledge is different though. In CHEM 105 the study of titrations has a factual part (knowledge about different solutions), a conceptual part (knowledge about how different solutions affect each other when they come in contact), a procedural part (knowledge about how to add different amounts of each solution to one another to produce a given outcome), and a metacognitive part (knowledge about how well I understand and can perform assigned problems and experiments). By breaking down course concepts into these components, you can be more intentional about the tasks and skills you use to learn.

Once you decide what you will learn, you must decide how you will learn it. Learning is essentially performing a task or skill intentionally and repeatedly. One helpful approach to deciding how you will learn something is to use Benjamin Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy. A taxonomy is a set of principles arranged in a logical, progressive way. In this case, Bloom’s Taxonomy arranges a set of learning outcomes from simple to complex learning tasks or skills:

  1. Remember – retrieve relevant knowledge from long-term memory
    • Recognize
    • Recall
  2. Understand – construct meaning from a variety of sources
    • Interpret
    • Exemplify
    • Classify
    • Summarize
    • Infer
    • Compare
    • Explain
  3. Apply – carry out or use a procedure in a given situation
    • Execute
    • Implement
  4. Analyze – break down parts of information and relate them to one another
    • Differentiate
    • Organize
    • Attribute
  5. Evaluate – make judgments based on criteria and standards
    • Check
    • Critique
  6. Create – put things together or reorganize them in a new structure
    • Generate
    • Plan
    • Produce

The decision about how you learn in a course will depend on professor requirements, your own personal interest in the course, and how course exams are structured. As you become more familiar with how courses are structured and what professors expect, it will become easier to decide how to study and learn.