According to Bloom's Taxonomy, established in 1956, there are three learning domains. Cognitive, Affective and Psychomotor, also referred to as Knowledge, Skills and Abilities. When students are presented with new content, educators should focus on learning taking place in all three of these domains. In order to test knowledge retention, teachers should create assessments that measure learning in every area.
The cognitive learning domain concentrates on knowledge and recalling information. To assess learning in this domain, educators should focus on paper and pencil-type tests. These tests can reside in the lower levels of the domain by asking true and false, multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank questions. To test students' knowledge retention in the higher levels of this domain, have them write short answers or essays to assess their analysis and evaluation of the material.
This domain deals with how the students process the information internally and how it changes their emotions and feelings toward something. An assessment method that would measure learning in the affective domain is to give open-ended questions that require students to give their opinions on a subject. There are no right or wrong answers here, only the ability of the student to express their feelings on information or situations. An example of this would include asking students to write a brief essay on how they feel about their country after studying the 2001 terrorist attacks. Learning in the affective domain helps students to change their minds about a situation or express emotions and feelings about it after studying it.
This domain is about the physical actions that people are able to perform after studying content. Assessment methods for this domain include performing, demonstration and creating. Depending on the content that the students have been presented with, they must follow the directions to simulate the desire outcome--for example, performing math calculations using correct formulas, driving a forklift correctly or creating a vase in a pottery class.
Testing students on knowledge retention within one domain is acceptable. However, it is also possible to assess students in multiple learning domains. First, you would grade the students on participation in class discussions. This is also known as "responding to phenomena" and it consists of students reacting to new information and contributing ideas. The other two domains can be assessed with a paper and pencil test by simply using a questions with two parts. A math test could be created by presenting students with a math problem that they must show their work for and then select the correct answer from a multiple choice list. These two tasks would symbolize knowledge in the cognitive domain and guided response in the psychomotor.
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