A class of over 60 MBA students settle down as the professor walks in. The professor raises his voice and says “No question is a stupid question” – the most enticing line to bring questions out of students. As he starts teaching, a string of hands go up.
When I entered the business school in the US, I expected it to be far more interactive than what I had experienced during my undergraduate in India. After all, speaking and presenting are some of the core ingredients of an MBA program, but to see students asking and probing every single line uttered by professors wasn’t something I ever thought of! Professors continuously motivate students to gurgle their minds and question every single concept. Sometimes it feels annoying to see more time spent on answering those questions rather than on actual concepts. But, from my two months of the business school experience, I can definitely warrant that this has been an effective approach of learning, what is known as Bloom’s Taxonomy.
Bloom’s Taxonomy was created in 1956 by education psychologist Dr. Benjamin Bloom to promote higher level of thinking in education. Bloom’s Taxonomy divides learning into six categories from simplest to complex –
- Remembering: Recall facts, data, names, formula, etc.
- Understanding: Grasp the chief meaning of a concept and articulate relationship between data.
- Applying: Take a concept under study and use it in a new or hypothetical situation.
- Analysing: Break into component parts – look at individual items for trends or evidence for generalization.
- Evaluating: Present items or thoughts in new ways, based on presented criteria
- Creating: Design and formulate strategies, compile information in a different way by combining elements in a new pattern or proposing alternative solutions. It is the highest level of thinking.
A large part of my undergraduate education that I undertook in India was focussed around remembering and understanding. Most exams put emphasis on remembering and cramming complex formulas and equations. From chemical equations to mathematical derivations, memory had to be your best friend. Even though professors emphasized understanding the concepts, their exams seemed to be more focused on remembering than understanding. It was only during the internships and final year projects that students used application part of learning.
However, in the business school it is entirely different ball game. A major part of teaching is case based that forces students to analyse every single moment. The subsequent discussions with the teacher helps students develop their analytical and evaluation capabilities. Even all the assignments are framed to help students enhance their critical thinking abilities. From financial models to optimization, students are supported and nurtured to create new ideas. Tons of group activities and team-work ensure exchange of ideas and brainstorming.
“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it” – Henry Ford
From my over 16 years of experience in sitting in classrooms, I can say Bloom’s Taxonomy is a highly effective teaching approach that should be kept in mind while devising every single curriculum. It can help faculty and school staff design an appropriate learning methodology, creating a strong trajectory for students’ transcendental growth. Teachers can apply Bloom’s taxonomy by asking questions and delivering assignments that directly correlate with specific learning objectives in each stage of the process, making the objectives clear to the student.
Bloom’s Taxonomy can help not only academia but also in workplaces. Key Performance Indicators (KPI) should be framed in such a way that they encompass all levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Higher focus should be given to top tiers of the bloom’s pyramid to promote continuous improvement and innovative mindset. Bloom’s taxonomy is a wonderful model to battle thought the challenges of complex and interconnected global society. Follow this model in every task you undertake and let your tree bloom!
“Those who know how to think, need no teachers” – Mahatma Gandhi
Jay is a MBA student in the Mays Business School