Adaptation of Dave’s Psychomotor Domain

December 7, 2014

I have received some interesting feedback and critique of my circular representation of Ravindra H. Dave’s psychomotor domain of educational objectives. I have been asked why I have chosen to use the circular design, to alternative verbs and to expand the definition of psychomotor activity.

Firstly the representation of the domain as a circle, which I have done across four domains elsewhere, I believe serves to make the subcategories more fluid. It contains the proto-verbs at the centre, next circle contains active verbs which also represent teaching and learning activity and the outer circle contains the nature of evidence (or assessment forms) that might demonstrate the active verbs. Using the circle one also has an inherently clock-face like visual which makes the dialling-up from the basic to more sophisticated concepts as you travel around clockwise. Maybe its most powerful function is to encourage lateral thinking on the part of learning designers, encouraging them to explore learning and teaching activities as assessment or evidence examples at the same time.

Psychomotor Domain - Taxonomy Circle - after Dave (1969/71)

Psychomotor Domain – Taxonomy Circle – after Dave (1969/71)

Secondly, I have chosen to use active verbs to describe the subcategories of the domain and so there is a clear change from:

Dave’s Original  Atkinson’s Adaptation  Descriptor
Imitation Imitate ability to copy, replicate the actions of others following observations.
 Manipulation  Manipulate ability to repeat or reproduce actions to prescribed standard from memory or instructions.
Precision  Perfect ability to perform actions with expertise and without interventions and the ability to demonstrate and explain actions to others.
Articulation  Articulate ability to adapt existing psychomotor skills in a non-standard way, in different contexts, using alternative tools and instruments to satisfy need.
 Naturalisation  Embody ability to perform actions in an automatic, intuitive or unconscious way appropriate to the context.

This is to articulate more clearly the need to describe learning outcomes as things that the students will actually ‘do’ in line with the principles of constructively aligned learning and teaching design.

The third, more less obvious change, is that I have chosen to expand the definition of psychomotor activity to incorporate a wider range of physical activities that perhaps Dave had not envisaged, particularly those involved with the manipulation of computer software, laboratory and fieldwork equipment and a range of technical equipment. I felt this was necessary because I have seen so many University courses make light of the skills developed in acquiring such expertise, as though such skills are incidental, when clearly it is the primary outcome valued by most students and employers.

For example, the specifics of the volume of water flowing through the Mississippi delta in November (Knowledge) will prove less useful than the ability to master the GIS and computational software used to document those specifics (Psychomotor).

I believe that the majority of what in the UK further and higher context is described as ‘transferable skills’ fall into the psychomotor domain and are worthy of careful attention.

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Updated: Taxonomy Circles – Visualisations of Educational Domains

November 13, 2012

Since October 17th when I shared the most recent work on visualising taxonomies in a circular form, and aligning these active verb patterns to particular assessment forms, I have had some great feedback – for which thank you. As a consequence I have made a few clarifications which I hope will help those of you of who want to use these visualisations in your conversations with peers or in academic educational development sessions. The biggest change has been to ‘turn’ the circles through 72′ clockwise so that the vertical denotes a “12 noon” start. I hesitate about this because it perhaps over stresses our obsession which mechanical process which isn;t my intention, but many said they would prefer this and so here it is. The second change has been to review, in the light of my own use, and some literature sources (noted on the images themselves) some of the active verbs and  evidence.

I am very grateful for the feedback and hope to receive more. In answer to the question about citing this work; there is a journal article and a book chapter in the works, in the meantime please feel free to cite the blog posts. Or indeed personal correspondance at simonpaulatkinson@gmail.com if you would like to share how these may be working for you in practice.

Click on the images to get a decent quality print version – please email if you would like the original PowerPoint slide to amend and modify.


Cognitive Domain – Circle – Taxonomy – Version 4 – November 2012 (Intellectual Skills)

Cognitive Domain – Taxonomy Circle

Affective  Domain – Circle – Taxonomy – Version 4 – November 2012 (Professional and Personal Skills)

Affective Domain – Taxonomy Circle

Psychomotor Domain – Circle – Taxonomy – Version 4 – November 2012 (Transferable Skills)

Psychomotor Domain – Taxonomy Circle – after Dave (1969/71)

Knowledge Domain – Circle – Taxonomy – Version 2 – November 2012 (Subject/Discipline Skills)

This representation is perhaps the most ‘controversial’ as it represents the ‘knowledge dimension’ articulated by Anderson and colleagues as a separate domain. For the purposes of working with subject-centric academics within their disciplines as they write intended learning outcomes and assessment, I have found this a useful and sensible thing to do. I have separated out the notion of ‘contextual knowledge’ which is also not going to please everyone.

Knowledge Domain – Taxonomy Circle

I hope these representations are of some use to you in your practice. Simon (13 Nov 2012)


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