Yusuf Mahbubul Islam's MIDT Journey

Taking my Workshop to Professor Bloom

Professor Dunning, one the facilitator's of the HMDD6503 course, changed my life with the following open-ended, Higher Order Thinking (HOT) assignment question:

"Give your assessment of Bloom's Taxonomy and whether you think it is comprehensive, based on the learning experiences you have had in your life."

At first, I did not know what to make of the question, let alone how to do the assignment. Like many other students, I studied Prof Dunning's mega profile and looked at his research papers, trying to find clues as to what he may like to see in the assignment. A lot of his research talks about "Learning Styles". I was further confused - how does one relate learning styles to Bloom's classification of learning levels?

By the Grace of the Creator, I struck upon the idea of reversing what I was trying to do. I was originally trying to understand Bloom's Taxonomy and then looking for examples from my life. Instead, I decided to link learning that works in my workshop sessions to "Professor Bloom"! For my portfolio reflection, I would like to point out TWO discoveries that I made for myself. The first is bringing everyone's learning styles together in class and second collaboratively reaching a consensus.

1. The picture above, also given in Professor Dunning's assignment may help understand the first discovery. The blue cards display responses in the form of keywords from the participating teachers in a workshop. These are individual responses to a carefully designed question. The class then collectively classifies the ideas under agreed headings using white cards. Like the idiom, "put your cards on the table", all students have put their ideas (given their individual thoughts and learning styles) on the board. They then confirm the meanings and group the ideas under agreed headings.

2. Once this is done, the class is ready to collaboratively prepare action plans, in this case, lesson plans on posters as shown in the picture below.

Once the class presents their posters, compares and reflects on the work done wonderful new learning seems to emerge. In this case, the teachers themselves realized that their lesson plans need to be more appropriate for the age group concerned! No amount of lecturing would have helped teachers understand this problem in their lesson plans!

In my assignment, I then attempted to classify these two types of learning taking place in the workshop to Bloom's various levels of learning. Prof Dunning gave me an A+ in the assignment and remarked that this was the best in class!

Needless to say, this boosted my confidence no end. My workshops are now much more focused and I know better what I am looking for and how to bring about new learning. I then started to look at any question using the taxonomy "goggles" suggested by Professor Bloom. This brings me to the courage that the course HMHP5903 on Human Performance Technology added to my new attitude. Prof Shariman taught us to look closely at the teaching in our own organizations and that we should do something to improve the status quo. The regular place I work is at Daffodil International University (DIU) in Bangladesh. DIU follows traditional face-to-face lectures with little or no interaction with students.

Having gone into the depth of Bloom's Taxonomy, I started relating the nature of questions posed by teachers in exams at DIU and discovered that most questions are related to recall of facts and figures with some application, i.e. students are mostly engaged in Lower Order Thinking levels - no wonder they are forced to become rote learners.

I therefore stuck my neck out and prepared a US$471,000 project proposal for the University Grants Commission (UGC) that proposes to examine the nature of questions asked by teachers of all faculties at DIU and gradually improve the nature of questions. The project is called "Questioning Questions in Higher Education." I now feel this project is essential in the context of Bangladesh where a culture of rote learning is ingrained in our institutions of education. The first goal of the project, as written down in the proposal is:

"Raise the standard and quality of subject-based-questions at university level through a consultative and participatory process and establish research practices into the teaching-learning processes across all subjects taught at the university to ensure development of both teachers and students. Through the quality of questions asked, it is hoped to produce a graduate who is able to think more realistically and better fit into the real world."

A study of the project proposal which has now cleared the first round of approval by the Grace of the Creator, will demonstrate that a variety of motivational techniques learned from Prof Shariman's course have been used as well as applications learned from HMLC5303 "Learning Communities and Social Pedagogical Networks".


Steve said...

Hello Yousuf

It was great to learn how you felt after doing Dr. Dunning's assignment. And your reactions were great. I wish you all the best in your proposal. Rote learning is what occurs in the Caribbean so the resluts of the studies will be welcome in my quarters.

I think so far your response is what is expected of us and it places a new view of what is expected in the assignment. I have to make some changes on what I have submitted. Thanks pal.

A job well done and very comprenensive indeed. I was wondering though if you used too much detail and if it had to be more precise. I await a response from Dr. Putri on this note.

Sarah said...

Dear Yusuf

Good narration and a comprehensive reflection ; however, I am interested in knowing your understanding of the 'learning styles'. And secondly, how do you relate 'reaching a consensus' with Bloom's taxonomy? Please would you shine some light on these?

It is really nice to learn that your understanding of the Bloom's taxonomy has led you to a fulfledged project. All the best for that!

Best regards

meherun said...

Dear Yusuf,

Outstanding assignment on Bloom's through which I'm able to clarify my ideas.


Steve said...

Just took some more time and re-read your post Yusuf. I saw the great depth and the interest you took in Bloom's Taxonomy.

However it will be great to separate your reflection because you included 2 others. They may be interrelated but they can be use as other artifacts too.


Hello Yusuf, what a great post. I have never develop an e-portfolio before and so was wondering what I should include in my reflections. This a wonderful and comprehensive job done. I admire your deep understanding of Dr. Dunning's assignment and the how much you learned.

From your posting, I have learned how you grouped different groups of learners based on their learning styles.



Hello Yusuf, what a great post. I have never develop an e-portfolio before and so was wondering what I should include in my reflections. This a wonderful and comprehensive job done. I admire your deep understanding of Dr. Dunning's assignment and the how much you learned.

From your posting, I have learned how you grouped different groups of learners based on their learning styles.


Dr.R.Shriram said...


Wonderful work and correlation between Bloom's and real life. It is very interesting to see how you have linked Bloom's to the HPT course.

A short question here. How would you characterise your work in terms of the models that we have studied? Is it cognitive or constructive ?

Sarah said...

Dear Yusuf

I have gone through your artifact and reflection again. I am certain your audience will be pleased to read the complete, detailed impressive commentary of the situation/context of the artifact; the task that you had to do, how you got around to do it, the result of your actions and finally your learning through/from the artifact and the meaningful application of it.

A commendable job indeed!

Best regards

Thula said...

Hi Yousuf
I also learn a lot from your reflections on Bloom's taxonomy which have led you to come up with quite a valuable project related to teaching and learning at higher education level. Like in Bangladesh, we also face similar challenges leading to complain how our students are less reflective and lack problem solving skills. Yet as you rightly point out, it is us the educators who deprive them of such an opportunity through the nature of questions that they answer. The aspect of your portfolio that appeals to me most is how your learning has come to improve your practice through application of knowledge and skills in the project you describe. I am keen, if you don't mind to partner with you and work on a similar project at the University in Swaziland.

Yousuf M. Islam said...

Wow, thank you all for such great comments! Let me see if I can answer your queries one by one.

Steve, the reflection is long as it contains essential parts of the artifacts that I wish to share with the reader. The reader need not then go through the artifacts themselves, if the reader does not want to.

Sarah, we all think differently. Each person has their own take on viewing the same object or listening to the same lecture. The cards allow all participants to dig into their own learning styles and put their understanding in writing. As the class discusses the ideas in the cards, common themes emerge. Based on these themes groups then prepare presentations or action plans. These discussions help analysis and synthesis of the concept or idea. In the presentation on posters, which is collaboratively developed, students have a chance to be creative.

Meherun, thank you!

Steve, the posts below are from 2006. I hadn't realized that these posts would appear directly below. I'll see if I can shift these to another folder or blog.

Mike, thank you!

Shriram, to my mind cognition must take place to allow constructivism to step in.

Sarah, thank you!

Thula, I would be delighted to partner with you on the project. The project document is mostly complete. I was thinking of taking the help of Prof Abtar to provide the foreign collaboration. I will soon send the document to Prof Abtar and seek her advice on how we can move forward. The document will InshaAllah be submitted to UGC during August, 2010. In the meanwhile if you look at how you would like to fit things at your end and modify the document to suit your needs.

Best regards and best wishes to all of you! Thank you all again for the patient reading you gave.


Putri Shariman said...

Actually using Bloom in your workshop is indeed a creative idea! well done...