Evaluation of Web-based “Quest-type” Formats using Bloom’s Taxonomy
Diana F. Abernathy Dell
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Educators are progressively utilizing the Internet more as an instructional tool rather than as a mere source of information. In the last decade, numerous web-based “quest-type” activity formats have been developed. The increasing importance of information-processing skills demands that these formats incorporate higher level thinking skills. Bloom’s Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain serves as a measure by which to evaluate these activity formats. A review of the six levels of the taxonomy is provided. The subsequent evaluation and categorization of the “quest-type” activity formats based on the incorporation of higher level thinking skills is included.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents ii
List of Tables iii
List of Figures (if figures used) iv
A Review of Bloom’s Taxonomy 1
Description of Web-based “Quest” Formats 5
Description and Analysis of WebQuest Formats 6
Description and Analysis of MiniQuest Formats 13
List of Tables
Table 1: A guide to the lower levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain 4
Table 2: A guide to the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain 5
Table 3: Evaluation of WebQuest formats with Bloom’s Taxonomy 11
Table 4: Evaluation of MiniQuest formats with Bloom’s Taxonomy 15
List of Figures
Figure 1: Bloom’s Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain 2
In 1956, a group of educational psychologists, headed by Benjamin Bloom, released Bloom's Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain as a categorization of educational goals and objectives. The main premise of the taxonomy is that educational goals and objectives can be arranged in a hierarchy from less to more complex (Bloom, 1956). This taxonomy has remained in use since its inception. Educators seeking to engage learners in meaningful learning experiences refer to the taxonomy with the understanding that the categories near the top of the hierarchy require more processing of information. These upper categories have become known as higher order thinking skills. (Lane, 2000)
As we move into the information age, information-processing skills are more important than ever. Mere knowledge of subject matter is not sufficient. Learners need to engage in analysis, synthesis and evaluation of information. Educators are increasingly employing the Internet as an instructional tool (McKenzie, 1987). In recent years, several web-based “quest-type” formats have emerged. Evaluation of these formats using Bloom’s Taxonomy is the rationale of this paper.
A Review of Bloom’s Taxonomy
Bloom’s Taxonomy is a classification of educational objectives used for developing thinking skills. It serves as a model that assists educators in presenting ideas and concepts at a variety of different levels. (Bo-Linn) The first three levels of knowledge, comprehension, and application are often referred to as lower order thinking skills. The remaining levels of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation are therefore known as higher order thinking skills. (See Figure 1.)
Understanding the verbs associated with each level will allow educators to write objectives, plan activities, and require learning products that evoke higher order thinking skills (Teach-nology, 2000). Each level is explained is detail in the paragraphs that follow. Table 1 summarizes the verbs, skills, and tasks that correlate with the lower levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Table 2 summarizes the higher order skills.
Bloom’s knowledge level represents the lowest level of learning outcomes in the cognitive domain. The knowledge level refers to the recollection of previously learned material. This may entail the recall of a diverse range of information, from particular facts to entire theories. All that is required is of learners at this level is bringing to mind accurate information. (Bloom, 1956)
The next level in Bloom’s hierarchy, comprehension, goes one step beyond the straightforward remembering of information. Comprehension is defined as the ability to grasp the meaning of information. This level represents the lowest level of understanding. Comprehension of information is demonstrated by such activities as translating information from one from to another, explaining, summarizing, and predicting consequences or effects (Bloom, 1956).
Learning outcomes at the application level require a greater level of understanding than those of the comprehension level. Application is the ability to use learned information in new and concrete situations. This level incorporates the application of such things as rules, procedures, hypotheses, principles, laws, and theories (Bloom, 1956).
Learning outcomes at the analysis level represent a higher intellectual level than comprehension and application because analysis necessitates an understanding of both the subject matter and the structural form of the information. Analysis refers to the ability to break information into parts so that its organizational structure may be comprehended. This may include the identification of the parts that make up the whole, investigation of the relationship between parts, and recognition of the organizational principles involved. (Bloom, 1956)
Learning outcomes at the synthesis area emphasize the production of new patterns or structure using creative thought. Synthesis is the ability to put parts together to form a new and different whole. This may involve the creation of a distinctive written product, a plan for solving a problem, or a set of rules for a classification system (Bloom, 1956).
Learning outcomes in the evaluation level represent the highest thinking skills. When working at this level, learners must combine elements from all the other levels, plus incorporate the ability to judge the value of information. Evaluations or judgments may be based on clear-cut or vague standards of excellence. Learners must explain conclusions with evidence from the information being evaluated. (Bloom, 1956)
Table 1: A guide to the lower levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain
Lower Order Thinking Skills
observation and recall of information such as vocabulary words
Evaluation the living conditions of three cities and rank them from best to worst.
Select the best children’s author and explain the selection criteria
Description of Web-based “Quest” Formats
As technology integration increases in K-12 classrooms, the Internet is being utilized as an instructional tool as well as a source of information. This has spurred the development of several web-based activity formats. The most common formats utilize the structure of a “quest.” Bernie Dodge pioneered the development of the format known as WebQuests. Over the past decade, twelve different variations of WebQuest have evolved. In addition, Internet Innovations, Incorporated modified the basic structure of the WebQuest and developed the format known as MiniQuests. Three distinct instructional designs now exist for MiniQuests. All of the variations of “quest” formats are described below and are evaluated, using Bloom Taxonomy, regarding the ability to evoke higher level thinking skills. Table 3 summarizes the evaluation results of WebQuests. Table 4 summarizes the results of the evaluation of MiniQuests.
Description and Analysis of WebQuests Formats
Bernie Dodge developed the WebQuest format in 1995. “A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented activity in which some or all of the information that learners interact with comes from resources on the Internet. WebQuests are designed to use learners' time well, to focus on using information rather than looking for it, and to support learners' thinking at the levels of analysis, synthesis and evaluation.”(Dodge, 1995) In an interview conducted by Education World, Bernie Dodge is quoted as saying,
“The key idea that distinguishes WebQuests from other Web-based experiences is this: A WebQuest is built around an engaging and doable task that elicits higher order thinking of some kind. It's about doing something with information. The thinking can be creative or critical, and involve problem solving, judgment, analysis, or synthesis. The task has to be more than simply answering questions or regurgitating what's on the screen. Ideally, the task is a scaled down version of something that adults do on the job, outside school walls.” (Dodge as quoted by Starr, 2000)
All WebQuests share six essential sections: Introduction, Task, Process, Evaluation, and Conclusion. The purpose of the Introduction is to engage the learner and reveal the essential question around which the WebQuest is based. The Task describes the end result of the learner activities. The Process outlines the steps the learners will follow to accomplish the task and may include scaffolding tools that assist learners in organizing information. The Evaluation describes the criteria needed to meet performance and content standards and is frequently presented in the form of a rubric. The Conclusion brings about closure and promotes reflection or further thought. (Building Blocks for WebQuests)
“The task is the single most important part of a WebQuest. It provides a goal and focus for learner energies and it makes concrete the curricular intentions of the designer. A well designed task is doable and engaging, and elicits thinking in learners that goes beyond rote comprehension.” (Dodge, 2002) Dodge classifies WebQuests based on their task type. Since the development of the WebQuest, twelve different task format categories have emerged. These categories are described and evaluated below. Table 3 summarizes the evaluation results of WebQuests.
Retelling tasks require learners to understand information about a topic and then show that they have understood it. They serve to provide a simple introduction to the use of the Internet as a source of information. Learners are most frequently asked to demonstrate their understanding by way of PowerPoint or HyperStudio presentations, posters, or short reports (Dodge, 2002). Due to their introductory nature, retelling tasks entail the lower level thinking skills of Knowledge and Comprehension.
A compilation task acquaints learners with a body of knowledge and gives them opportunities to reorganize and chunk information obtained from varying sources in an assortment of formats. Thinking skills required to complete compilation tasks vary can be raised to higher levels if learners are asked to transform the information. For example, compiling a list of websites on a specific topic requires less thought than gathering information presented in one format and transforming it into a different format (Dodge, 2002). Due to their varying difficulty, compilation tasks may fall into the lower levels of Knowledge and Comprehension but also the higher levels of Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation.
A mystery task requires the combination of information from many of sources to solve a puzzle or unknown. Well-written mystery tasks cannot be solved simply by locating the answer on a specific page. Instead, the task should require that learners use information from many sources, and then put the information together by making inferences or generalizations. The thinking skills required can be elevated by structuring the mystery in such a way that learners must eliminate false trails that seem to be probable answers (Dodge, 2002). Mystery task elicit the thinking skills of Application, Analysis, Synthesis and Evaluation.
Journalistic tasks require that learners act like reporters covering an event. It requires gathering facts and organizing them into an account within the genres of newspaper and magazine writing. Accuracy and lack of bias is desired and creative interpretation is not (Dodge, 2002). Journalistic tasks require the thinking skills of Knowledge, Comprehension, and Synthesis.
A design task calls for learners to create a product or plan of action that achieves a pre-established goal and works within specified limitations. For example, learners may be asked to design an ideal product and stay within a specified budget or other restrictions (Dodge, 2002). Design tasks address Bloom’s levels of Synthesis and Evaluation.
Creative product tasks, as do design tasks, lead to the construction of something within a specific format. However, they are more open-ended and unpredictable than design tasks. Creative product tasks encourage creativity and self-expression within the criteria of a specific genre. Sample products might be a play, journal, painting, or game (Dodge, 2002). Bloom’s levels of Application, Analysis, or Synthesis are addressed through creative product tasks.
Consensus Building Tasks
Consensus building tasks require that differing viewpoints concerning a specific topic be expressed, evaluated, and compromised. The topics are generally drawn from current events and recent history and must be based on opinions and facts surrounding the topic. Evidence of reaching consensus is embedded in the product (Dodge, 2002). Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation are the thinking skills fostered by consensus building tasks.
A persuasion task is similar to a retelling task, but it also requires learners to develop a convincing case that is based on what they've learned about a particular issue. Examples of persuasion tasks are presenting a speech at a mock city council hearing, writing a letter to the editor, or creating a videotaped ad with the intent sway opinions (Dodge, 2002). Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation are the thinking skills promoted by persuasion tasks.
Self-knowledge tasks require the learner to answer questions about him or herself that have no short answers. These tasks are built upon topics involving personal responses such as long-term goals, ethical and moral issues, self-improvement, or art appreciation. There are few examples of this type of WebQuest possibly due in part to the nature of the current curricula in schools (Dodge, 2002). Bloom’s level of Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation are reached through self-knowledge tasks.
In analytical tasks, learners are required to scrutinize one or more things to find similarities and differences between or among them. In addition they are asked to determine the consequences or relationships of those similarities and differences (Dodge, 2002). Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation are the levels of thinking skills utilized to complete an analytical task.
Judgment tasks require that learners order or evaluate items related to a specific topic. Judgment tasks may also require the learner to make an informed decision and choose among a limited number of choices. Learners must be prepared to explain and defend the system of evaluation that was used in making the decision (Dodge, 2002). Bloom’s levels of Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation are addressed through judgment tasks.
A scientific task requires that learners assume the role of a scientist. They are asked to make a hypotheses based on an understanding of background information, test the hypotheses by gathering data from selected sources, determine whether the hypotheses is supported and describe the results and possible implications in the form of a scientific report (Dodge, 2002). Application, Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation are the levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy that are utilized in scientific tasks.
Table 3: Evaluation of WebQuest formats with Bloom’s Taxonomy
Requires students to understand information about a topic and then show that they have understood it
Will the Volcano Spoil Our Party:
Acquaints students with a body of knowledge and requires reorganizing and chunking of information obtained from many sources in different of formats
Requires that learners make a hypotheses, test it, determine whether it is supported, and describe the results in a scientific report
Finding the Lighthouse Diamond Thief by Using the Scientific Method:
The Journey North:
Description and Analysis of MiniQuests Formats
The MiniQuest format is an online instructional module developed by Internet Innovations, Incorporated. MiniQuests are designed to promote critical thinking and knowledge construction and are to be completed by learners in one or two 50-minute class periods. There are three distinct instructional designs for the MiniQuest: the Discovery MiniQuest, the Exploratory MiniQuest, and the Culminating MiniQuest (Building a MiniQuest, 2002). They can be identified by the placement within instructional units. All MiniQuests contain three components: Scenario, Task, and Product. The scenario describes the situation and is used to create a real-world context for answering the essential question. The task is comprised of a set of questions designed to obtain the factual information that is necessary to answer the essential question. The product provides a description of what the learners will produce that embodies their answer to the essential question. The product must necessitate that learners demonstrate understanding. (MiniQuest Instructional Design, 2002)
Discovery MiniQuests occur at the beginning of an instructional unit. They are designed to introduce learners to particular information (MiniQuest Types, 2002). The tasks involved in this introductory format generally involve the lower order thinking skills of Knowledge, Comprehension, and Application.
Exploratory MiniQuests occur within the unit and deal with acquiring information required for the understanding of a particular concept or curricular objective. These may be used in conjunction with Discovery MiniQuests or alone (MiniQuest Types, 2002). Although this format rates higher than the Discovery format, the tasks entail the lower order thinking skills of Comprehension and Application.
Culminating MiniQuests occur at the end of an instructional unit and may require the use of information obtained by doing other types of MiniQuests or from other instructional methods. Due to the fact that Culminating MiniQuests are completed at the end of a unit of study, it is assumed that learners will have a larger knowledge base. (MiniQuest Types, 2002) Therefore, in-depth questions are a part of Culminating MiniQuests. The higher order thinking skills of Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation are utilized in the completion of Culminating MiniQuests.
Table 4: Evaluation of MiniQuest formats with Bloom’s Taxonomy
Used at the beginning of an instructional unit.
Introduce learners to a particular information unit.
Used within an instructional unit.
Deals with acquiring content required for the understanding of a specific concept or objective.
May be used in conjunction with Discovery MiniQuests or alone.
Requires the use of previously learned information.
Contains essential questions that require learners to build an answer that focuses on decision-making or development of a plan of action.
Analysis of web-based “quest” type instructional design formats using Bloom’s Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain was the rationale of this paper. Examination of the twelve unique task formats of Dodge’s WebQuests reveal that all formats, with the exception of retelling tasks, engage learners in the higher level thinking skills of Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation. Conversely, only one of the three MiniQuest formats, the culminating format, consistently engages students in higher level thinking skills.
It is evident that the task, or what learners are asked to do, is the single most important factor in determining whether a quest elicits higher or lower level thinking skills. The task provides a purpose and direction for learner activities. It solidifies the curricular goals and objectives and can engage learners in thinking that exceeds mere knowledge and comprehension.
(2002). Building a MiniQuest. Retrieved March 02, 2003, from Internet Innovations Incorporated: http://www.biopoint.com/miniquests/miniquests.html 2002). MiniQuest Instructional Design. Retrieved March 02, 2003, from Internet Innovations Incorporated: http://www.biopoint.com/miniquests/instrucdesign.htm (2002). MiniQuest Types. Retrieved March 02, 2003, from Internet Innovations Incorporated: http://www.biopoint.com/miniquests/mq_types.htm
Bloom, B.S. (Ed.) (1956) Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals: Handbook I, cognitive domain. New York ; Toronto: Longmans, Green.
Bo-Linn, C. Levels and Types of Questions. Retrieved March 17, 2003, from University of Illinois: http://www.oir.uiuc.edu/Did/docs/QUESTION/quest1.htm Building Blocks for WebQuests. Retrieved March 09, 2003, from San Diego City Schools Ed Tech Dept.: http://projects.edtech.sandi.net/staffdev/buildingblocks/p-index.htm Dodge, B. (1995, revised1997). Some Thoughts About WebQuests. Retrieved Mar. 12, 2003, from The Educational Technology Department at San Diego State University: http://edweb.sdsu.edu/courses/edtec596/about_webquests.html Dodge, B. (2002). WebQuest Taskonomy: A Taxonomy of Tasks. Retrieved March 18, 2003, from The Educational Technology Department at San Diego University: http://webquest.sdsu.edu/taskonomy.html
Lane, Ed.D. , C. (2000). Bloom's Taxonomy. DLRN's Technology Resource Guide , Chapter 4. Retrieved March 4 2003, from http://www.dlrn.org/library/dl/guide4.html McKenzie, J. (1987). Making Change in Education: Preparing Your Schools for the Future. Westbury, NJ: J. L. Wilkerson.
Starr, L. (2000). Meet Bernie Dodge -- the Frank Lloyd Wright of Learning Environments!. Education World. Retrieved March 10 2003, from http://www.education-world.com/a_tech/tech020.shtml