Finding the Right Taxonomy

After reviewing the three taxonomies presented this week, I see they are very similar and different approaches. Blooms taxonomy is hierarchal and is a very western approach. Even though they added a metacognitive domain within the knowledge section, it is still very lifeless and it is missing the humanness to learning. The UbD taxonomy is very straightforward and black and white. The concepts described in the taxonomy are layers of understanding but they seem to come from a western approach as well. When I say “western approach’ I mean anything from mainstream university. When I read these levels of understanding I see western scientists conducting studies using concepts of objectivity and hierarchal processes. There isn’t anything wrong with these ways of knowing, it is just not how I think.

When reviewing Fink’s Taxonomy of Significant Learning, I was quite surprised. I think this taxonomy is useful for my course and purpose. It is interesting that the course could look very different depending on the taxonomy that is used. When reflecting on the course I would like to develop, I would like my students to get out of the course a sense of responsibility to the knowledge presented. It is not only that they learn the knowledge presented and memorize it. But I want them to internalize it and reflect on how it relates to their identity. This will hopefully develop a sense of responsibility to the knowledge presented and the community it represents. When reviewing the Blooms taxonomy, if that were the only taxonomy that described ways of thinking, I don’t think I could get to my goal. The knowledge domain discusses how students get acquainted with the knowledge, identify interrelationships, learn methods of inquiry, and self-reflect. If I used UbD’s taxonomy I don’t think I would reach my goal either. This taxonomy describes how students explain concepts, interpret data, apply contexts, display empathy, and self-reflect.

After reviewing Fink’s Taxonomy of Significant Learning, I think there are connections between the intent of the course and what is presented in his non-hierarchal taxonomy. Foundational knowledge is presented, the human dimension is a part of learning, and the caring section is where I would want to direct the lessons. The caring section of this taxonomy is almost a transformative domain, which is what I hope course does. I hope students will come out of this course aware of their inherent rights and defend them in situations outside of the classroom.

  1. (Foundational Knowledge) Identify and name inherent rights present in traditional knowledge systems as they are introduced in the course.
  2. (Foundational Knowledge) Identify acquired rights that exist in federal policy as it relates to Native people.
  3. (Human Dimension) Identify inherent and acquired rights present in their community as they relate to their identity.
  4. (Caring) Develop a sense of responsibility to the knowledge presented and defend that knowledge is everyday situations.
  5. (Application) Prepare a research paper exhibiting effective communication skills and Indigenous research concepts.


2 thoughts on “Finding the Right Taxonomy

  1. Lexie – your post is fascinating and lines up perfectly with what I am studying in my Alaska Native Ed. class – the problems with the intersections between Western specializations and holistic Indigenous Knowledge systems. I agree that the taxonomies are too linear, and they don’t seem to reflect a lot of the more recent and holistic studies in Western education. I’m sure that’s only compounded by having administrators with no background in education. Might be even worse for you if they’ve got no background in Indigenous studies of any kind…I hope that’s not the case!

    When I look at your map in the “Acquired Rights” (side note: “acquired rights” is the most polite sounding colonial phrase ever) section, and how it’s positioned, I wonder are you teaching the course linearly? Or relationally? Because it seems (obviously) that a lot of the things in that section have parallels in the Inherent Rights section, and it would be pretty interesting to see students go through those categories one by one and have to relate them to each other (education in one vs traditional education in the other, etc.). That could be some pretty high-level (Western taxonomy-wise) objectives to aim for.

  2. Hi Lexie,

    I’d like to hear more about how you think these taxonomies are linear. I can see Bloom’s being hierarchical, and to some extent 6 Facets is that way as well. Fink’s however, I think, is designed to be neither linear nor hierarchical. Or so I thought? I think of Fink’s taxonomy of significant learning as being more cumulative, perhaps. We all want our learners to learn how to learn, we seek to change their world view or values, but we seldom design activities to address these objectives.

    When you ask your students to read Coyote and Raven Go Canoeing, what is your objective? It seems you might be exactly trying to aim for the left side of Fink’s pie-shaped diagram. “Learning about oneself and others, developing new feelings, values, and interests, and learning how to learn, becoming a better student, and inquiring about a subject.”

    I’m curious as to how you see this as linear and different than Indigenous ways of knowing, teaching, and learning.

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