S tructure of O bserved L earning O utcomes. Through their work, Biggs and Collis looked at the Structure of the Observed Learning Outcomes produced by learners in terms of complexity. It is hierarchal and each stage involves the previous and adds something to it. The SOLO model consists of the following five hierarchical levels of understanding that range from incompetence to expertise. At this level, the learner is simply acquiring bits of unconnected information.
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At the lower levels, students demonstrate lower-order cognitive skills , while at higher levels students demonstrate the ability to use complex inductive reasoning strategies. The structure of observed learning outcomes taxonomy SOLO taxonomy is a tool for measuring how well a student understands a topic. It describes 5 levels of understanding from simple to complex.
It is widely used for designing curriculum outcomes and assessment tasks that get progressively more difficult as students move through their education. The first 3 levels represent quantitative thinking, which Biggs argues tends to involve deductive reasoning and surface analysis. The final 2 levels move into a qualitative approach that focuses on depth of knowledge and understanding on a topic.
We can observe that a student is in the prestructural stage when they respond to questions with simple answers like:. When I grade papers, I notice this all the time. A paragraph may be totally off topic, filled with factual inaccuracies, or totally copied from a source text.
This shows me that the student completely misunderstands. Biggs reminds us that sometimes a person will give a long and seemingly impressive response to a question, but it may still be at the prestructural stage.
He uses the example of a politician speaking a lot, but not actually answering the question they were asked. A student with unistructural understanding tends to understand only one or two elements of the task, but not the whole.
At this level, a student may be able to identify and name a few things and follow simple procedures that they have been taught. While some elements of a topic may be covered by the student, they will also miss many more important parts of the topic that are required to truly understand it. The student therefore has surface level understanding.
The relational stage is the first that shows deep qualitative understanding of a topic and more complex thinking skills. At the relational level, students start to see how the parts of a topic are put together. They can:. Central to relational knowledge is the ability to create structures and systems for sorting knowledge. Students begin to explain connections between things by using systemic and some theoretical modelling.
At the extended abstract stage, students have a sophisticated understanding of the topic and can apply it in various contexts. In other words, students can create new knowledge and apply the knowledge they have in multiple contexts due to their deep understanding of the topic.
For example, a student may laern something in the classroom and be able to apply it in their lives outsive the classroom in an entirely different context. Students may also be able to generate theoretical ideas and then use them to make assumptions about future events.
Some examples are below:. By contrast, the SOLO taxonomy focuses on outcomes of knowledge rather than descriptions of knowledge itself. The taxonomy provides vocabulary that clearly conveys what students should be able to demonstrate by the end of a course. Below is a collection of observable verbs that the SOLO approach recommends. Biggs designed the SOLO model for curriculum design in higher education.
It is a part of his broader concept of constructive alignment. Constructive alignment involves ensuring that the things we teach in our lessons:. The SOLO framework , as a practical component of constructive alignment, helps us:. To help guide you, you may like to use verbs that relate to each level of understanding.
These verbs will guide you as you attempt to create learning outcomes that are at the appropriate difficulty level. Illustrate, express, describe, combine, list, calculate, operate, classify, characterize, formulate, solve, prove, complete.
The structure of observed learning outcomes SOLO taxonomy is a very useful framework for thinking about how well a student should, or does, understand a topic. I reflect on it regularly when considering what grade I should give a student as it gives me a framework for considering how deep their understanding truly is. Biggs, J. Evaluating the Quality of Learning. New York: Academic Press. Teaching for Quality Learning at University.
Teaching for quality learning at university. What the student does 3rd Ed. Brabrand, C. Using the SOLO model to analyze competence progression of university science curricula. Higher Education, 58 4 , The taxonomy contains 5 levels of knowledge, from simple to complex: Prestructural Unstructural Multistructural Relational Extended Abstract At the lower levels, students demonstrate lower-order cognitive skills , while at higher levels students demonstrate the ability to use complex inductive reasoning strategies.
Contents hide. Constructive alignment involves ensuring that the things we teach in our lessons: Are in tune with our assessment content. Prepare students for the things we assess our students on.
Are at an appropriate ability level in relation to the summative assessment. Are cognitively challenging. Use constructivist teaching strategies. The SOLO framework , as a practical component of constructive alignment, helps us: Create learning outcomes. Level Verbs to Use Prestructural. Paraphrase, seek, identify, label, recite, count, follow procedures, repeat, recognize, define, find, select. Analyze, contrast, plan, relate, apply theory, explain causation, exemplify, adapt, integrate, defend a position, deduce, summarize, construct, design, compare.
Predict, assess, evaluate, theorize, reflect, hypothesize, generalize, judge, contextualize, predict, critique. It provides a framework for creating progressive curricula that gradually increase in difficulty level. It provides a framework for thinking about what you want your students to know and at what stage. It helps you think through what grade you will give a student by explicitly outlining how to identify depth of understanding. Some topics such as brain surgery! Other topics may be easy to understand, manipulate and theorise at level 5 of the taxonomy extended abstract level.
So, even very difficult postgraduate level curricula may require lower-order verbs within their learning outcomes. The model assumes courses should contain learning outcomes and places high value on assessment. Some educators may believe that assessment and learning outcomes stifle creativity and student-led learning and are therefore inappropriate. Final Thoughts The structure of observed learning outcomes SOLO taxonomy is a very useful framework for thinking about how well a student should, or does, understand a topic.
References Biggs, J. Extended Abstract.
SOLO Taxonomy | 5 Levels of Learning Complexity (2020)
While Bloom's Taxonomy has been quite useful in that it has extended learning from simply remembering to more complex cognitive structures, such as analyzing and evaluating, newer models have come along. However, it has become more useful with the revised taxonomy. It is a model that describes levels of increasing complexity in a learner's understanding of subjects Biggs, Collis, It aids both trainers and learners in understanding the learning process. The model consists of five levels in the order of understanding:.
SOLO Taxonomy structure of observed learning outcomes provides a simple, reliable and robust model for three levels of understanding — surface deep and conceptual Biggs and Collis At the prestructural level of understanding, the task is inappropriately attacked, and the student has missed the point or needs help to start. The next two levels, unistructural and multistructural are associated with bringing in information surface understanding. At the unistructural level, one aspect of the task is picked up, and student understanding is disconnected and limited.
Structure of observed learning outcome
Introduction to the SOLO taxonomy