It’s thanks to the Education Act of 1880 that each new academic year starts in September. By this time of year the harvest had been collected so the children could be spared from their work on the land for a few hours a day to attend school. This has endured – even in 2020! – and although we might not have been to school for a while, we associate this time of year with a re-set. Along with that, the feeling of a new start provides an opportunity to set objectives for ourselves and our development.
Whilst the objectives might be near-term rather than long term, and our ways of working may still be evolving and not yet firmly fixed in place, by now, as we reach the end of the ‘back to school’ month of September, a feeling of ‘normal’ is starting to return. I truly hope it lasts.
This framework, based on ‘Bloom’s Taxonomy’, provides a helpful system for setting learning objectives that are clear and measurable, even in challenging circumstances. It represents a learning process, from recognising and recalling information right through to applying what has been learned to build something new (though learners may not need to get to all levels). Like all great processes, it includes measurable, observable verbs to support the identification of achievement.
Here are the different levels of the framework:
Remembering – finding, recognising and being able to recall information, for example remembering what DMAIC stands for. Measurable verbs: define, list, label, describe, recognise
Understanding – explaining ideas or concepts, like being able to describe Lean Six Sigma in your own words. Measurable verbs: explain, describe, summarise, discuss, identify, tell
Applying – using the knowledge – to complete a SIPOC or a project plan for example. Measurable verbs: use, practice, demonstrate, solve, execute, apply, complete
Analysing – identifying and analysing patterns, being able to recognise trends and organise ideas. For example, using statistical tools to compare data sets. Measurable verbs: appraise, differentiate, critique, debate, quantify, theorise
Evaluating – judging the value of new ideas / being able to critically examine information and make judgements, e.g. determining how the use of agile can support the rapid delivery of benefits. Measurable verbs: justify, assess, defend, select, conclude, compare
Creating – using the concepts to create new ideas, like bringing the learning to life through the delivery of a project or the design of a more effective process. Measurable verbs: develop, design, establish, manage, revise, modify, compose
While setting our objectives at this time we should be mindful of the advice “be stubborn about your goals and flexible about your methods” as further changes, challenges and opportunities are presented. We should also remember that if change is constant, so too is learning.