Differentiation by task design
Bloom’s Taxonomy and Task Design
Participants will be able to:
• see how differentiation can be achieved by careful task design
• amend tasks that they presently set students, so as to achieve better differentiation
• explain and appreciate the importance of setting a mix of achievable (mastery) and stretching (developmental) tasks.
Bloom’s Taxonomy is a spectrum of task difficulty. It goes from easy tasks such as recalling knowledge to harder tasks such as evaluating an argument. It deals with cognitive learning*, but a similar approach can be used in other sorts of learning.
• ‘Tasks’ include everything you ask students to do: verbal question and answer, tasks set in the lesson; and full blown assignments or projects. It also includes tasks for work inside and outside the class.
• In order to differentiate there should be a mix of:
• Mastery Tasks that can be mastered by all learners in a short period of time regardless of their prior learning. This allows weaker learners to succeed. Without this success they will probably give up.
• Developmental tasks that stretch the more able, develop the skills required for academic success, and for the world of work. These tasks develop the skills required for progression to the next educational level. They also create deep learning, that is, real understanding.
• It is important to realise that the full spectrum of Bloom’s Taxonomy should appear at every academic level. Entry level students need simple developmental tasks such as ‘which of these is best’ or ‘plan how you are going to…’ Similarly, level 4 students need mastery tasks such as to recall the key points in a lesson.
*Other domains of learning are psychomotor learning (practical skills such as serving at tennis) and affective learning (learning attitudes beliefs values etc).
Mastery and Developmental Tasks