Marzano's New Taxonomy: A model that assesses the learning objectives

Education is defined and modelled on the lines of targeted learning objectives and is centered on predetermined goals which focus on realisation of learning. Over the past decades, in order to improve the learning attributes in students’, educators are utilising various possible approaches, (one among which is educational taxonomies) and are contributing to students’ knowledge acquisition.

Uptil now, diverse taxonomies have been proposed by various educationalists, academicians, researchers, and other learned groups, among which Marzona’s New Taxonomy is gaining immense popularity among different fraternities. Simply put, it is a theory that responds to the shortcoming of Bloom’s taxonomy.

A glimpse of what this ‘new’ theory is all about; Robert Marzano, a highly respected educational researcher and trainer, proposed ‘A New Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (2000).’ Marzano’s this model of thinking includes an extensive range of elements that influence the students’ thought process and offers a much elaborated, research-based theory that enables the teachers to enhance the students’ thinking.

Marzano’s New Taxonomy consists of three systems and a knowledge domain, which are vital for the ‘thinking and learning’ process.

A detailed insight to the knowledge domain

In traditional learning environment, educators often focused on component of knowledge and hardly moved beyond the accumulation of knowledge, leaving learners with a mental file full of facts, of which majority concepts are forgotten after the final examination.

Marzano assumed that for successful learning process, students need a significant amount of knowledge even before beginning to think about a subject/topic.

To accomplish this, he segregated the knowledge a student acquires into:

Information - It includes organising ideas, including the generalisations, principles, and details like vocabulary facts and terms. Generalisations and principles are essential because they enable the user to store plenty of information with minimum effort by arranging concepts into categories. For instance, a learner would never have heard of Cucurbita, but once the learner knows that it is nothing but a Latin name for gourd, he/she would have some information about it.

Mental procedure - This category includes a range of complex processes, including crafting complex tasks into simple ones such as algorithms, single rules, tactics, etc. Tactics, such as reading a map, contains a set of activities which can be performed in random order. Algorithms, such as computing long division, follow a specific order which remains constant in all situations. Single rules, like covering capitalisation, are applied according to a specific occasion.

Physical procedure - In this category, the subject area determines the degree to which physical process figure varies. While the physical needs necessary for reading contain no more than eye movement and minimal coordination required to turn a page, vocational and physical education demand a comprehensive and sophisticated physical process. It must be noted that the contributing factors, including strength, balance, etc. affect the physical process.

3 vital systems contributing to the thinking & learning process

Cognitive system- The mental procedure in the cognitive system gives the individual access to the information as well as processes in their memory and assist the individual in manipulating and using the knowledge. Marzano segregates the cognitive system into four categories: knowledge retrieval, comprehension, analysis, and knowledge utilisation.

  • Knowledge retrieval - Similar to the knowledge component of Bloom’s Taxonomy, this category includes recalling data from permanent memory.
  • Comprehension - This category demands the determination of concepts important to remember and arranges those information into suitable categories.
  • Analysis - This section involves error analysis, classifying, generalising, and specifying.
  • Knowledge utilisation - This is the last level of the cognitive system and involves addressing of use of knowledge.

Metacognitive system - This system is regarded as mission control of the thinking events as it regulates all the other systems. This system defines a goal and makes decisions pertaining to which information is important and which cognitive procedure suits the goal. This is followed by monitoring the processes and making modifications as required. For instance, a college student contributing to a virtual museum about different stamps initially builds the goal of what his display will have on it and what it would look like. The student would then choose the strategies he would use to figure out the information he needs to know in order to create the display.

Self-system - Providing learners with instruction in cognitive techniques (even with metacognitive skills), isn’t sufficient to make sure that they will study the concept. A teacher may be surprised to discover that the task that was considered to be quite tricky is easily accomplished by the student. This scenario occurs as a result of self-system. This system comprises beliefs, attitudes, and feelings that identify the student’s motivation to achieve a task. The key elements that contribute to motivation include: importance, efficacy and emotions.

  • Importance - When a learner is assigned with a learning task, the first response of the student would be determining the importance of the task to the individual or is it the concept or subject the student believes he/she needs to learn.
  • Efficacy - Efficacy refers to people’s beliefs about their potential to successfully complete a task. Students with a greater degree of self-efficacy face challenging tasks, believing that they have the required resources to triumph the task.
  • Emotions - Undoubtedly, learners cannot control their emotions pertaining to a learning experience which have a huge influence on their motivation. Effective students utilise their metacognitive skills which assist them to take advantage of positive responses and handle their negative emotional ones.

A glimpse at real-time instance employing Marzano’s taxonomy to enhance the learning process

Arun, a middle-school student is thinking about a family outing when his teacher begins a chemistry lesson. Arun’s self-system decides to stop him from thinking about the outing and focus on the lesson. On the other hand, the metacognitive system asks him to pay attention and ask questions to complete the task assigned. Cognitive system offers thinking strategies required to make sense of his teacher’s instructions. The chemistry knowledge about procedures enables him to accomplish the assignment.

Each element of the Marzano’s Taxonomy increases the likelihood of Arun developing higher-order learning skills and ensures that he will be able to apply the chemistry concepts in the real-world situations.

Marzano’s New Taxonomy is being adopted by many owing to the fact that it is broadly a much more research-based theory or model in comparison to its counterparts. It offers enhanced knowledge about fundamental learning processes such as emotion, etc., improved precision in developing learning objectives and increase in number of suggestions to function with learning objectives.

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