CLO magazine (Chief Learning Officer) has just finished accepting nominations for it’s 2006 "Learning In Practice Awards."

Awards are a great thing of course, because theoretically they can reward outstanding achievements and highlight for the industry the leading-edge thinkers and product/service implementations.

But award selections are not easy to administer. They involve a great deal of investment by the sponsoring organization. Sponsoring organizations almost always get payback from giving awards because their name becomes synonomous with power and credibility.

Unfortunately, the cost of these awards programs almost always push awards providers to ask for an entry fee of some sort. For example, the CLO awards ask for $149 per entry. The Brandon-Hall awards have an entry fee as well.

These entrance fees completely bias the results, and should make all of us suspicious about whether the award winners truly represent the best in our industry. All we need to do is ask ourselves this question, "Am I likely to spend $150 if I have no likelihood of personal, social, or financial gain?" Even allowing for the occasional radical altruist or rich benefactor, most of us want to get something in return for spending $20, let alone $150. So why do award nominations get submitted? For personal or business gain. And what kind of organizations are most likely to be nominated? Organizations with lots of money and marketing clout.

What kind of products/services and people get overlooked?

  • Innovators
  • Individual contributors
  • Small businesses
  • Those who worry about associating themselves with phony awards

One solution to this problem is to use a sliding scale for entrance fees or to offer scholarships for organizations or individuals without the financing of our largest vendors.

In the meantime, when we see an award, we ought to be aware that somebody else was probably more deserving.

Michael Allen has a nice post on Podcasting.

I’ve been a big advocate for learning audits, evaluations, and surveys. To do any of these things well, you need to find a good online survey provider.

For truly sophisticated assessment software–with all the bells and whistles for doing psychometrically-sound learning assessments, the provider to check out is Questionmark, the clear market leader.

For online survey software, I’ve had great success with KeySurvey. When I tried some of the most well-known online survey instruments, they just didn’t have the power and sophistication to do what I wanted. I’ve been completely satisfied with the folks at KeySurvey. Not only is their online software sophisticated and reliable, but their offering is reasonably priced, and the customer-service is phenomenal. You actually get to talk to a real person when you’ve got technical questions. You can certainly check them out online, but if you have questions or want to sign up, contact Jim Hatcher through email or by phone at (817) 491-2450. He’s a great guy and always helpful. Tell him Will Thalheimer of Work-Learning Research sent ya.

Problem-Based Learning is an intriguing, if not proven, method of facilitating learning. A new journal has been launched to gather research related to problem-based learning. The first issue is available free online.

In that first issue, John R. Savery provides a nice overview of Problem-Based Learning (PBL). In it he acknowledges that the research has not shown that PBL is more effective than traditional learning approaches.

In thinking about PBL, please keep in mind that, like many learning approaches, PBL is really a compendium of many separate learning factors (for example, problems should be ill-structured, collaboration is essential, etc.). It could be that many of the components have value, but one or another of PBL’s components may actually suppress learning. As Savery notes, more research is needed.

Today’s New York Times has a nice article on how games are being used to help people learn about real-world issues like the Middle-East Conflict.

The article does a really nice job of reviewing the "serious games" movement, including the passion of the developers and the thin research support for effectiveness (as of yet).

I’m inclined to think these serious games can have profound learning benefits, but that  measurements of effectiveness are probably difficult to get right.

Also design difficulties include:

  1. Insuring the correctness of the cause-and-effect relationships in the game.
  2. Insuring that the design doesn’t distract from the main points.
  3. Insuring that the game itself generates attention to the most important points.
  4. Being sure that other methods aren’t more efficient and/or effective.

Chris Anderson, editor of Wired Magazine, has a new book—The Long Tail—another inspired insight ready to rear up like a tsunami and sweep indiscriminately over everything.

The insight from the book and from the original article in a 2004 edition of Wired is this: The low cost of infinite shelf space and the reach of the internet enables niche products to reach an audience—and for this reach to be economically viable. The following chart from Slate Magazine captures the concept nicely.


It’s a nice insight and Anderson musters compelling evidence for the increasing power of the long tail to transform our economy and our business infrastructure.

To hear Anderson being interviewed by the incomparable Tom Ashbrook, check out the On Point archive from July 18, 2006.

To read a critique of the concept—a warning about its boundary conditions—from Slate Magazine’s Tim Wu, check out the article entitled, "The Wrong Tail: How to turn a powerful idea into a dubious theory of everything."

To read how the concept might affect the publishing industry, check this out from the NY Times Book Review.

To read how the concept might apply to the healthcare field, read Jim Walker’s thoughtful analysis.

To read a critique of the concept (and the actual economic data) from the Wall Street Journal, read Lee Gomes excellent article, "It May Be a Long Time Before the Long Tail Is Wagging the Web."

To read more about the Long-Tail concept, check out The Long Tail blog.

How does the long tail relate to the learning-and-performance field? I offer some initial thoughts:

1. Course content: The long tail may enable more and more niche players to succeed in the marketplace, potentially hurting companies with large libraries of everything. Is this why Skillsoft’s stock has lost 75% of its value over the last four years (though it’s been inching up lately).
2. Conferences: The long tail may kill, or significantly weaken, the mega conference, pushing attendees into smaller, niche-driven conferences. Simultaneously, vendors (the financial life blood of most conferences), may avoid mega conferences and spend their exhibit dollars in smaller conferences, especially industry-specific conferences.
3. Industry organizations: Organizations like ASTD, ISPI, Masie Center, etc., may lose their influence to specialty organizations (like the elearningGuild) that are attracting an increasingly devoted membership.
4. Employment: Perhaps the long tail will push more and more individuals and small groups into external consulting, development, and delivery functions.
5. Publishing (including books, magazines, eBooks, and blogs): The long tail may make it easier and easier for authors and thought leaders to distribute their works online, putting pressure on book publishers like Pfeiffer and ASTD to compete, and periodicals like T+D, PI, and CLO to maintain an audience in the face of a burgeoning swell of blogs, white papers, and webinars.
6. Industry Advertising: If we think of advertising placement opportunities as products, the long tail may push vendors in our industry to seek niche placements. One opportunity for this is the Google or Yahoo! online advertisements that are already changing the advertising game, but other niche opportunities are available as well.
7. Best practices: Until a seismic event occurs in our industry, professionals have too little impetus to create effective learning-and-performance interventions. Thus, sadly, we will continue to window shop for fad-of-the-moment ideas emerging from the long tail. After emerging from the long tail, fad-of-the-moment ideas will enjoy a brief explosion into the head of the curve, before gradually fading back into the obscurity of the long tail.

Where will the long tail not apply:

1. Credentialing: Although ISPI’s CPT (Certified Performance Technologist) and ASTD’s CPLP (Certified Professional in Learning and Performance)—are both available (as are a few other credentials), multiple credentialing agencies weaken the meaningfulness of a credential, making it likely to put a ceiling on the market power of these credentials.
2. Authoring Tools: Buyers tend to gravitate toward stable tools and systems, not wanting to deal with the uncertainty of new technologies.
3. LMS’s: Again, buyers tend to gravitate toward tools that are proven and vendors that can afford to invest in interface-diverse interoperability.
4. Work-Learning Research and Will Thalheimer: Though I am likely to always to be hidden somewhere in the long tail, I have ambitions to be ubiquitous with my message of research-based practice. BIG TONGUE-IN-CHEEK SMILE.

Mark Cuban has a nice piece on his blog about how the internet is NOT the reason for innovation, but that cost cutting is. Click to read the piece here.

It’s not immediately clear to me how this relates to the learning-and-performance field–maybe the push toward rapid e-learning technologies–but I share Cuban’s piece knowing that one of you bright readers may get an insight that leads to improvements in our field.

Unless you’ve been a hermit since birth, you should have noticed that we human beings are drawn to celebrity. From peasants to the so-called intellectual elite, we are vastly more likely to pay attention to celebrities (and their activities) than to anyone else.

The evidence is everywhere.

  • Movie producers hire big name actors to draw people to theaters.
  • Yahoo’s home page almost always leads with a celebrity.
  • Google gets more searches for Johnny Depp than for any of your neighbors.
  • Advertisers pay big bucks for celebrity endorsements.
  • Celebrities get the largest book advances (and sales).
  • Conferences pay big bucks to hire celebrities, even if they have little to say.
  • Much of our idle chatter involves talk of celebrities.
  • Tournament organizers groan when the big names get ousted or withdrawal due to injury.

I have to admit it myself. While browsing the web, I often find myself clicking through to a story about a famous person. It’s almost an unconscious response. I seem to be drawn to want to know what’s going on with them.

The New York Times has a nice piece about the power of celebrities to draw interest on the internet.

How Can We Use Celebrity to Increase Learning?

First, we have to distinguish between drawing attention and creating distraction. Using celebrity is a good method for getting more of our learners to initially access the learning message. It might also be useful to maintain attention longer than normal. But we have to watch out for the distraction factor and make sure that the learning message is supreme.

I’d actually like to see a study that tests my little theory.

  • Hypothesis 1: Celebrity helps garner attention, AND increases long-term retrieval of the main learning points.
  • Hypothesis 2: Celebrity helps garner attention, AND decreases long-term retrieval of the main learning points (but increases long-term retrieval of information about the celebrity or the learning event itself).
  • Hypothesis 3: Celebrity does nothing. We only think it does.

The research would have to be very careful to avoid experimenting with captured learners. Why? Because the hypothesized benefit is due to more people attending to the learning event in the first place. If everyone, regardless of whether we use a celebrity or not, is captured, there are less likely to be learning benefits.

In a natural, authentic training environment, I’m betting on Hypothesis #1 above.

If anybody has learners and funds to test this theory, give me a call. Let’s get to work.

Training Implementations

Some of us use celebrity already. I’ve seen e-learning programs from Type A Learning Agency that used in-company celebrities to reinforce messages within e-learning programs.

Celebrity doesn’t have to reside only in individuals either. Executives love being sent off the Harvard Business School events, for example.

Elliott Masie–the training industy’s P. T. Barnum–uses his celebrity to draw people to his conferences, which are pretty good learning events after all.

Local ASTD, ISPI, SHRM (etc.) chapters use celebrity speakers to draw a crowd at their sessions.

More and more, executives (in-company celebrities) are teaching leadership courses to company managers.

The Bottom Line

It’s worth considering how we might use the concept of celebrity to draw learners to our learning initiatives and increase their attention on our learning messages.

The book, The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning: How to Turn Training and Development into Business Results; by Calhoun Wick, Roy Pollock, Andrew Jefferson, and Richard Flanagan; is one of the most important books published in the training and development industry in a very long time.

Book: The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning: How to Turn Training and Development into Business Results

Authors: Calhoun Wick, Roy Pollock, Andrew Jefferson, and Richard Flanagan

Publisher: Pfeiffer

Publication Date: April 2006


The learning-and-performance field—of which I am a devoted member—hasn’t had a really big idea since the performance-improvement crusade began gathering momentum in the 1980’s. But now, thanks to the work of Cal Wick, Roy Pollock, Andrew Jefferson, Richard Flanagan and their colleagues at the Fort Hill Company, we finally have a new innovation—a systematic method for training follow-through.

It’s not a surprise that training can only be effective if learners put what they learn into practice. What Wick and company have done is demonstrate the feasibility of driving training transfer into the flow of work. Their book is really a culmination of years of exploration as they bravely embraced the exhausting and dangerous work of pioneers.

They’ve taken an evidence-based approach to learning design—grappling with real-world clients, making careful observations, gathering data, utilizing research findings, and fine-tuning their practices. Perhaps most importantly, they’ve created a breakthrough technology that enables training-and-development leaders to push learning results into the actual workplace.

E-learning pundits haven’t recognized it yet, but Fort Hill’s Friday5s training-follow-through software (along with competitive products like ZengerFolkman’s ActionPlan Mapper) may be the most disruptive e-learning technology yet devised. While web-meeting platforms, LMS’s, rapid authoring tools, and even Google may seem potent, they don’t change training effectiveness as much as a good training follow-through system.

Wick, Pollock, Jefferson, and Flanagan may enjoy promoting Fort Hill products, but they go out of their way to craft a broader message in their brilliant new book, The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning: How to Turn Training and Development into Business Results. The authors lay out a devastating analysis of the current state of training practice—not by being negative—but by illustrating with cases, examples, and research how to do training right.

The book is nothing short of revolutionary. Unfortunately, in our dysfunctional field not everyone will take up arms against their own ineffective practices, but the book provides solid guidance to the enlightened soldiers in our midst. If you want to improve on-the-job performance and business results, this book is a guiding light.

Changing the Paradigm and Technology of Learning

In the flow of our everyday lives, the world as we know it follows predictable patterns. Things change, but they change predictably. Every once in while, however, something new appears—an innovation or idea so strange and yet so perfectly in tune with the cravings, resources, and zeitgeist of the time that it changes everything.

Disruptive technologies like electricity, phones, computers, and the internet have produced powerful ripples through the human fabric. Automobiles not only displaced the horse, they enabled the rise of the middle class, the building of suburbs, and intellectual and social freedom for young adults. Paradigm shifts and scientific discoveries create the same effects, changing the way we see the world—changing the possibilities. If not for the ideas of Jesus, Darwin, Gandhi, Confucius, Freud, Einstein, Watson and Crick, Kuhn, and others, we would live in a different world.

The last great disruptive innovation to arise within the learning-and-performance field was the move away from “training” and toward “performance improvement.” Unfortunately, that movement is not yet complete. The hard truth is that we talk more about on-the-job results than we achieve them.

In the move from training to performance improvement, something got lost. Performance gurus often badmouth training as inadequate, but they give short shrift to its strengths, and are blind about how to design the complete training experience to make training work. This kind of blindness is endemic in our field for two reasons, (1) because we have so little understanding of the basics of human learning, and (2) because we rarely evaluate our performance.

Thankfully, Cal Wick and his team (as well as a few others) have tired of training’s big lie. They know that training can be powerful—if only the right processes and procedures are put into place. Because they understand learning, they can envision a systematic set of guidelines that work. Because they measured the performance of their learners, they have been able to fine-tune their recommendations.

The Six Disciplines is poised to become one of the most important books in the learning-and-performance field. Not since the publication of Dana Gaines Robinson and James C. Robinson’s book on performance consulting or the seminal work of Bob Mager on performance-based instructional design, has our field been offered a new system of thinking—a new way to do our jobs as learning-and-performance professionals.

The Book’s Overarching Message

The book proposes six disciplines and offers scores of recommendations, but it’s central message is that what happens after training is just as important—and probably more important—than the training itself.

The six disciplines are:

1. Define Outcomes in Business Terms
2. Design the Complete Experience
3. Deliver for Application
4. Drive Follow-Through
5. Deploy Active Support
6. Document Results

Wick, Pollock, Jefferson, and Flanagan suggest that training ought to be conceptualized with a new finish line.

The “finish line” for learning and development has been redefined. It is no longer enough to deliver highly rated and well-attended programs; learning and development’s job is not complete until learning has been converted into results that matter to the business. (p. 13)

This new finish line enables us to see possibilities beyond the completion of smile sheets. A learner’s job—indeed an organization’s job—is not done when the classroom door swings shut.

The authors also emphasize the importance of visualizing training as something that occurs within an expanded timeline. Before-training efforts and after-training efforts are just as critical as the training efforts themselves. Particularly important are the after-training efforts because they focus learner attention on implementing the learning, reinforce fading memories, and transform the process of learning from an individual pursuit to an organizational responsibility. Learning changes from a love-it-and-leave-it experience to a system of reciprocal reinforcement where the results are measured in on-the-job performance.

The Book’s Evidence

The authors cite lots of organizational research to back up their claims, from thinkers and researchers like Broad, Brinkerhoff, and Newstrom. And, the notion of a new finish line is entirely consistent with the research on fundamental learning factors—the kind of research I’ve been working with for almost a decade. For example, we know learners forget most of what they learn—unless that information is reinforced in the workplace. Each one of the six disciplines push us to design an expanded learning experience, one that focuses on workplace implementation, not training per se.

Other forms of evidence are equally important. In addition to research from refereed journals, the book details dozens of real-world learning executives describing their successes in broadening the conception of training and implementing the six disciplines. Wisdom from learning leaders was relayed from these and other organizations: Sony, Gap, 3M, Humana, BBC, Center for Creative Leadership, General Mills, Corning, Forum, University of Notre Dame, Honeywell, AstraZeneca, Pfizer.

Evidence of the effectiveness of technology-based training follow-through is described using data from the powerful methodology of control-group designs. Graphs and text clearly illustrate the results. For example, page 128 conveys how “Use of a Follow-Through Management System Increased Managers’ Awareness of Their Direct Reports’ Development Goals from 40 Percent to 100 Percent.”

While the majority of books in our field fail to convey more than a few breadcrumbs of credible evidence, The Six Disciplines hits for the triple crown, utilizing refereed research, experience of real-world learning leaders, and data from control-group studies. In our field, it simply doesn’t get any better than this.

The Book’s Design

The book is well organized, with an introductory chapter, a summary chapter, and one chapter for each of the six disciplines described in the title. Each chapter ends with a nice twist—two lists of action points; one for “learning leaders” and one for “line leaders.” There are many design examples such as this that demonstrate that the authors are really serious about on-the-job performance. The book utilizes some valuable repetitions of key points. The text design makes reading a pleasure. Quotations are pithy and relevant. Examples are illustrative of the main points in the text.

I read every page of the book, so I can tell you with confidence that it is well written. There are hundreds of specific recommendations throughout the book. I found many insights that I hadn’t thought of—ideas that I will use in my work as a consultant, instructional-design strategist, and creator of training. The graphs and charts are clear and there are some very useful templates. For example, the first chapter concludes with the “Learning Transfer and Application Scorecard,” a 10-item questionnaire. It’s a powerful tool because—and this is my opinion not the authors’—most current training programs will fail miserably when measured by these questions. I’d bet that most training programs will have low scores on ALL 10 items of the scorecard.

I have two almost insignificant complaints about the book. First, the cover is uninspired. The book deserves better. Second, the six disciplines are shoehorned into starting with the letter “D,” in a way that is more misleading than it should be. For example, the second “D” stands for Design the Complete Experience. The author’s emphasis is on the complete experience, but the shorthand version “Design” connotes the traditional instructional-design notion of design—a notion completely inadequate; as the authors argue persuasively in the actual text.

The Book’s Recommendations

The book is jam-packed with recommendations, so I’ll only convey a few of the specific recommendation here. You really ought to buy The Six Disciplines and read it and share it with everyone you know who cares about doing training right. Here’s my short list:

  1. View training follow-up as part of every training intervention.
  2. Get learners’ managers involved before and after training.
  3. Evaluate your training programs to determine whether they’re working and to improve subsequent training.
  4. Before designing a training program, determine what learners will be doing better and differently after the program. Be clear about what evidence will be acceptable to determine success.
  5. Understand the business. Be proactive in suggesting training-and-development solutions. Check your understanding with line leaders.
  6. Utilize a technology-based training-follow-through system to drive learning application and accountability.
  7. Utilize evidence-based practices, including research-based instructional design and after-training evaluation.
  8. Avoid “dense-pack education—the tendency to cram every conceivable topic into a program of a few days.”
  9. Focus on creating transfer during all phases of training—while designing the training, while delivering it, and during follow-up.
  10. Consider using senior executives to teach leadership—it is one of the fastest- growing trends in executive education.
  11. During training, stop after each topic and ask participants questions that challenge them to think about applying what they know.
  12. Learners should develop “learning transfer objectives” and be prepared to work toward them while back on the job.
  13. Send learners’ objectives to the learners’ managers to increase follow-up application and accountability.
  14. Utilize Marshall Goldsmith’s “feedforward” techniques to help learners generate ideas for training application.
  15. Recognize that there are factors that decrease the likelihood that learners will put their learning into practice, and that the impact of these factors can be minimized only through a systematic follow-through process.
  16. Utilize reminders to facilitate memory and spur on-the-job application of training.
  17. Hold employees accountable for making effective use of the training they receive.
  18. Consider coaching as a complement to training, providing learners with coaches to increase the likelihood of energetic and appropriate application.
  19. Learning programs that “demonstrate sound, thorough, credible, and auditable evidence of results are able to garner additional investment; those that cannot are at risk.”
  20. Learning and development units within companies need to communicate their results to the organization using multiple communication attempts and various communication channels.

How do Your Learning Programs Rate?

As I mentioned earlier, the Fort Hill Company has developed a Learning Transfer and Application Scorecard (displayed on pages 10 and 11) that targets the most important and leveragable characteristics that make training effective. Every training program ought to be measured with this scorecard. To get an idea of how well your training stacks up, I’ve included three of the ten items. I changed the wording slightly to help you make sense of the items before you read the book. How well do your training programs do the following?

  • After the program, participants are reminded periodically of their post-learning objectives and of opportunities to apply what they learned.
  • Participants’ managers are actively engaged during the postprogram period. They review and agree on after-learning objectives, and expect and monitor the progress that learners are making in applying what they’ve learned.
  • The design of the learning program covers the entire process from initial invitation to attend, through the learning sessions, and through on-the-job application and measurement of results.


The Six Disciplines is the most important book written in our field in quite some time. It provides a comprehensive system to make training effective. Its radical new nugget of truth is its insistence on training follow-through. The book’s ideas are evidence-based and are consistent with the human learning system. The messages in the book have been tested and refined in the real world. Tools are available (for example, Fort Hill’s Friday5s follow-through management system) that make the recommendations actionable.

Training Follow-Through Systems

I am aware of two training follow-through systems, Fort Hill’s Friday5s, and ZengerFolkman’s ActionPlan Mapper. I have formally reviewed the ZengerFolkman product, but have yet to put my review of Friday5s on paper. Both are powerful programs. Friday5s may have an edge given its longer tenure in the marketplace and its ability to provide learning reminders, not just reminders about learning transfer objectives. My recommendation is that you test them for yourself.


The Bloom is Off the Vine

I just came across this nifty little piece on Bloom’s Taxonomy, written by Brenda Sugrue for ISPI’s Performance Express.

It’s a nice critique on the validity and usefulness of Bloom’s Taxonomy for Instructional Design.

Read it here.

I tend to agree with Brenda’s Critique. For a long time I’ve been suspicious of Blooms.



In case that link ever goes away, I’m repeating her piece here:

Problems with Bloom’s Taxonomy
by Brenda Sugrue, PhD, CPT

I did a 99-second critique of Bloom’s taxonomy at the 2002 ISPI conference, and it generated more unsolicited feedback than any other presentation I have made. The response varied from those who completely agreed with me and abandoned Bloom many years ago to those who are still true believers and avid users. In those 99 seconds, I criticized the taxonomy but did not have time to present more valid alternatives. This article summarizes the criticisms and presents two alternative strategies for classifying objectives in order to design appropriate instruction and assessment.

Bloom’s taxonomy is almost 50 years old. It was developed before we understood the cognitive processes involved in learning and performance. The categories or “levels” of Bloom’s taxonomy (knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation) are not supported by any research on learning. The only distinction that is supported by research is the distinction between declarative/conceptual knowledge (which enables recall, comprehension, or understanding) and procedural knowledge (which enables application or task performance).

The consistent application of Bloom’s taxonomy across multiple designers/developers is impossible. Given any learning objective, it might be classified into either of the two lowest levels (knowledge or comprehension) or into any of the four highest levels (application, analysis, synthesis, or evaluation) by different designers. Equally, there is no consistency in what constitutes instruction or assessment that targets separate levels. A more reliable approach is to separate objectives and practice/assessment items into those that elicit or measure declarative/conceptual knowledge from those that elicit or measure task performance/procedural knowledge.

The distinctions in Bloom’s taxonomy make no practical difference in diagnosing and treating learning and performance gaps. Everything above the “knowledge” level is usually treated as “higher-order thinking” anyway, effectively reducing the taxonomy to two levels.

The Content-by-Performance Alternative
Recent taxonomies of objectives and learning object strategies distinguish among types of content (usually facts, concepts, principles, procedures, and processes) as well as levels of performance (usually remember and use). This content-by-performance approach leads to general prescriptions for informational content and practice/assessment such as those presented in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Prescriptions for Information and Practice Based on Content-Performance Matrix.

Content Type

Information to Present
(Regardless of Level of Performance

(Depending on Level of Performance)



Fact the fact recognize or recall the fact recognize or recall during task performance
Concept the definition, critical attributes, examples, non-examples recognize or recall the definition or attributes Identify, classify, or create examples
the principle/rule, examples, analogies, stories recognize, recall, or explain the principle decide if the principle applies, predict an event, apply the principle to solve a problem
Procedure list of steps, demonstration recognize, recall, or reorder the steps perform the steps
Process description of stages, inputs, outputs, diagram, examples, stories recognize, recall, or reorder the stages identify origins of problems in the process; predict events in the process; solve problems in the process

The Pure Performance Alternative
A more radical approach would be to have no taxonomy at all, to simply assume that all objectives are at the use level (that is, “performance” objectives) and that learners will practice or be assessed on the particular performance in representative task situations. If there are “enabling” sub-objectives, those too can be treated as performance objectives without further classification. If, for example, a loan officer needs to be able to distinguish among types of mortgages and describe the pros and cons of each type of mortgage as an enabling skill for matching house buyers with mortgages, then we design/provide opportunities to practice categorizing mortgages and listing their pros and cons before we practice on matching buyers to mortgages. If a car salesperson needs to be able to describe the features of different car models as an enabling skill for selling cars, then we design/provide opportunities to practice describing the features of different cars before we practice on selling cars.

Bereiter, C., & Scardamalia, M. (1998). Beyond Bloom’s taxonomy: Rethinking knowledge for the knowledge age. In A. Hargreaves, A. Lieberman, M. Fullen, & D. Hopkins, (Eds.), International handbook of educational change. Boston: Kluwer Academic.

Merrill, M.D. (1994). Instructional design theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.

Moore, D.S. (1982). Reconsidering Bloom’s Taxonomy of educational objectives, cognitive domain. Educational Theory, 32(1) 29-34.