My interest in the idea of sharing pedagogical purposes comes directly with the contact I have had with the Project for Enhancing Effective Learning at Monash University in Australia. Now each of these teachers were very active in establishing learning agendas with their classes. The impact they were having was inspiring. Each classroom tool can have a purpose beyond delivering content, and this needs to be shared.
I suppose the purpose of this website is collate, crystalise and open dialogues about how to increase this within classrooms. As the quote from Carl Bereiter illustrates this classroom methodology can empower our students.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Students DO make progress with SOLO Taxonomy.

It is a fine feeling when your gut feeling has a concrete and real basis. This is a reflection of my first terms use of SOLO taxonomy.

The graph above shows a year 7 mixed ability Science class working over four SOLO and assessed tasks. It clearly demonstrates that my students are making progress up the SOLO Taxonomy scale in a measurable fashion. I think this graph also shows my progress in using SOLO in providing quality feedback. I am aiming to reflect on some of the processes and discussion that occurred in between these points. (I will dedicate the final paragraph to explaining how this data has been compiled.) Although, I must point out that the scores discussed here are solely for analysis and reflective purposes and the students have not and will not have it reduced down to a number. SOLO taxonomy provides a framework for discussion of work during lessons, for comment only feedback and for self assessment for the students.

Although the first two points clearly show progress form a score of around 0.5 to 1.0, I believe this is only establishing a useful baseline assessment of my students as they enter their new school. I think it also shows the lack of my skill in using this tool, as 0.5 indicates that half the class are operating on average at a prestructural level. and that the progress made suggests that on average everyone is working at the unistructural level. In reality two students had progressed to the Relational level while not one single student recorded a multistructural level score on the first task. So, I am not overwhelmed by its immediate impact, but it's certainly seemed to move the students in the right direction. I must also confess that my strategy to introduce a generic SOLO was very much by stealth. It was visible in the class ,but, only gradually dropped into the conversation when opportunity presented. The first two pieces of work were self assessed by the students using a content specific criteria using the SOLO structure. No attempt was made to introduce the language straight off. I don't know if this was the right thing to do, but, I felt that the students had a lot to cope with managing the transition to a new school.

The third activity here was a group presentation, so I feel that this has skewed the data a little, as some of the weaker kids scored their highest scores in this activity. This makes me want to underplay the progress here, as this suggests that on average the class is now at Multistructural and the raw data shows no one has remained prestructural, pleasing as this is it is not assessing individual performance.
However the value of this activity is significant, as it is this stage that I and my students began to fully come to terms with using it. The students made a presentation that required using several pieces of information/data to draw a conclusion. I listened to them and made notes and then together we used the evidence gathered to assign their group a level. This generated great dialogue which I believe has had a lasting impact. Some students were even saying things along the lines of " If we had of said this ......would we have get the next level".

Following this activity I made a presentation at the Teachmeet Northeast, about SOLO taxonomy where I came up with an analogy of its use. I decided to use it with my students and formally introduce SOLO taxonomy . It went down a storm with some students even recognising and identifying the levels before I had explained them, maybe stealth works as a teaching strategy. The students were also provided with a large copy of the taxonomy for their desks as they worked as a reference. The students went onto complete the fourth activity in this review. Half way through I took several statements from student work and asked them to assess where they thought it was, and how to improve it. I felt at the time this discuss was useful so I photographed the examples. Whilst marking the students scripts I was especially pleased by the amount of crossing out, arrows to add new details in and squashed sentences into gaps that really were not there. Pretty no, but indicative of reflection and demonstration of their understanding of not only the content of the lesson but of SOLO taxonomy too

So, overall this activity yielded a score of around 2.5 on this scale indicating that the majority of the students where working at the relational level albeit within small bits of content. This has been the thrust of my feedback about broadening out teheir knowledge base so that more and a wider range of connections could be made. All in all this set of data demonstrates the students making progress through the use and structure of the SOLO taxonomy, in a relatively small period of time.

How the data was produced.
Each SOLO level was assigned a score from 0- 6. (I have meddled with the structure slightly.)
The number of students at each level were tallied for each activity and multiplied by that score.
The score was then divided by the number of students in the class to give an average score per student.
The score has then been plotted against the order of these SOLO assessed tasks.