Test Students on a Higher-Order Thinking Skill

Let us first see the concept of Bloom’s Taxonomy!

Bloom’s Taxonomy is a classification of the different objectives and skills that educators set for their students (learning objectives). The taxonomy was proposed in 1956 by Benjamin Bloom, an educational psychologist at the University of Chicago. The terminology has been recently updated to include the following six levels of learning. These 6 levels can be used to structure the learning objectives, lessons, and assessments of your course. Let’s look at different levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy –

It simply provides an order of cognitive processes of a learner, starting from “Remembering” to “Creating”. Here, “Creating” is at the highest level and represents the most complex thinking skill of a student, “Remembering” being the lowest level thinking skill.
It is used for writing questions and assessments, increasing the rigor of a lesson, and evaluating the complexity of assignments, among other applications.

Let us see a question that tests students on higher-order thinking skills on a Topic – Food-Web

Question: A detergent factory has been set up near a pond. Due to an increase in human activity, the amount of nitrates and phosphates in the pond increases.
Which of the following effects will it have on the food web?
A. Some producers benefit. The consumers are unaffected.
B. Some consumers benefit. The producers suffer.
C. Some producers benefit. The consumers suffer.
D. Some consumers benefit. The producers are unaffected.

Option C is the right answer. Due to excess energy supply, eutrophication would take place. Phytoplanktons would increase in number, restricting I.) nutrients, II.) dissolved oxygen and sunlight for other organisms in the food chain (the consumers).

If Option A is chosen, it is safe to assume that students have understood the first premise of the question appropriately but haven’t taken into account the fact that if the producers flourish, they take up space and other essentials from a living environment.

If option B and option D are chosen, it can be assumed that I.) the premises are not understood properly and II.) knowledge about where producers and consumers receive energy from is lacking because consumers do not use nitrates and phosphates.

Thus, the question requires students to analyze the effect of the increase in Phytoplankton on other organisms in the pond, energy flow in the food web, and the scenario itself as an ecosystem.
Here, as you can see, the question tests students’ higher-order thinking skill of “Analyse” (which is at level 4 in Bloom’s taxonomy).
Also, have you noticed that to be able to analyze i.e. to perform this higher-order thinking skill, one needs to first remember and understand the concepts of “Ecosystem”, “Food chains”, “Food webs”,” Producers” and “Consumers” in the food chain, and “process of Eutrophication” and apply them to the scenario in question (ex. to identify the consumers and producers in the pond, identify the food web in the given ecosystem, etc.)

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