Want to keep learning?

This content is taken from the Raspberry Pi Foundation & National Centre for Computing Education's online course, Programming Pedagogy in Primary Schools: Developing Computing Teaching. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 2 seconds The Structure of Observed Learning Outcome, or SOLO, is a possible alternative to Bloom’s Taxonomy. The five levels of SOLO consist of prestructural, the student doesn’t really understand the subject; unistructural, the student grasps one relevant aspect of the subject; multistructural, the student is able to understand multiple aspects of the subject, but doesn’t really join them up; relational, the students can tell how different aspects of the subject relate to each other and can use them together; extended abstract, the student can think about their knowledge of the subject at a higher level and apply it in other areas. So how can these levels be applied to programming? In a moment, you’ll see another clip of the students’ learning with the Bee-Bots.

Skip to 0 minutes and 48 seconds Can you identify the five levels of SOLO in relation to this programming task and the sequence of learning? After you’ve watched the clip, take some time to think about whether you have a preference for Bloom’s or SOLO. And do these taxonomies align with your teaching approach? Share your thoughts in the comments below. All right, 3, 2, 1, go. [WHIRRING] [BEEPS]

Skip to 1 minute and 18 seconds [BEEPING] Ooh, all right. Now, yours had a mistake in it, didn’t it? Now, could you tell which one was wrong? Should we watch it again? And I want you to try and work out which move was wrong I know which one– So just leave– press Go again when I say ready. Three, two, one, go. [WHIRRING] [BEEPS]

Skip to 1 minute and 42 seconds It’s the turn. Poppy, do you think you know which one it is? Can you show me in a second? And you think you know as well. So which one do you think was the mistake? The backwards. You show me. You show me which move it was. I think it’s the turn. On the cards. Show me on the cards. I think it’s this one. Ooh, which one do you think, Poppy? The turn. The turn. Show me which one. Which turn was it? This.

Skip to 2 minutes and 9 seconds I think it might be before that. Should we have another look? Put the cards back. I know too. Put the cards back as they were. Let’s look one more time. OK, three, two, one. Press go. Bumped-ed my head. Bumped my head. Oh, dear. [WHIRRING] [BEEPS]

Skip to 2 minutes and 32 seconds [BEEPING] I tell you what, let’s watch them. Poppy, let’s watch them one at a time. So we’ll watch this one first, because this one does it right, doesn’t it? [BEEP] It’s going to tell them. It goes forwards, left, right, forwards, left, backwards. Now, let’s watch what this one does. Let’s start here so we can see it. OK. So it goes forwards. Forward. Oh, then he goes backwards. Oh, it’s going on it own backwards So it’s– which one is it? So it goes forwards. Backwards. No. It is this one. It’s that one, isn’t it? Yeah, that one. What should that one have been? I did– What should that one have been? That should be turn left. It should be turn left.

Skip to 3 minutes and 15 seconds And it went backwards, didn’t it? So I did– –forwards, back– I got the question right! Yeah. –right, forwards, back. Backwards. Backwards. Go. [CLICK]

How does SOLO develop our understanding?

In their chapter in Computer Science Education (2018, eds. Sentance, Barendsen, and Schulte), Hubwieser and Sentance highlight SOLO (“structure of observed learning outcome”) as a possible alternative to Bloom’s taxonomy.

“Following a totally different approach, Biggs proposed his SOLO taxonomy. Based on his theory of meaningful learning, he put more emphasis on the learner and the actual learning outcome, instead of the learning material.”

Biggs and Collis (1982) initially defined the following five SOLO levels:

  • Pre-structural: the student doesn’t really understand the subject
  • Unistructural: the student grasps one relevant aspect of the subject
  • Multistructural: the student is able to understand multiple aspects of the subject, but doesn’t really join them up
  • Relational: the student can tell how different aspects of the subject relate to each other, and can use them together
  • Extended abstract: the student can think about their knowledge of the subject at a higher level, and apply it in other areas

SOLO taxonomy bar graph, y axis titled competence. On the x axis the bars are labelled from left to right as prestructural, unistructural, multistructural, relational, and extended abstract. There is an increase in the height of each bar from left to right, from a bar of zero height for prestructural.

Hawkins and Hedberg (1986) then applied these five levels to the programming patterns of beginner programmers drawing simple shapes:

  • Pre-structural response: immediate mode; commands are applied by trial and error until the result is acceptable
  • Unistructural response: immediate mode; the commands are entered in a planned and deliberated sequence
  • Multistructural response: programming mode; structured sequences
  • Relational response: functions are defined and control structures are used; code is reused
  • Extended abstract response: parameterised functions (eds. Sentance, Barendsen, and Schulte, 2018: p.227)

Discussion

How do the five levels of programming summarised above help you understand the sequence of learning? Do you have a preference for Bloom’s or SOLO taxonomy, and do they align with your teaching approach? Leave your comments below.

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

Programming Pedagogy in Primary Schools: Developing Computing Teaching

Raspberry Pi Foundation