Gas station without pumps

2012 October 4

Circuits course as flipped Bloom’s

Filed under: Circuits course — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 21:00
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Inverted Bloom’s Pyramid.
(copied from http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/files/2012/05/bloom_pyramid-2-300×321.png, I’m not certain where the original is from, but Ms. Wright cites Chris Davis, Powerful Learning Practice LLC)

I just read Shelley Wright’s article, Flip This: Bloom’s Taxonomy Should Start with Creating, in which she advocates flipping Bloom’s taxonomy and starting with creating, rather than remembering.

I realized that the design of the circuits course has been guided somewhat by this principle. The reason we were creating the course is because we (and the students!) were not satisfied with the traditional EE circuits course, which basically does remembering and understanding, with a tiny bit of applying and analyzing.  We wanted a course with design content, which is Creating and Applying (I generally consider application higher on Bloom’s taxonomy than analysis, but perhaps I have a different idea of what “application” means).

So we are designing the course starting from the labs and the design exercises, and working backwards from that to figure out exactly what tools (physical and mental) the students will need to be able to do the designs. We’re going to try to have students doing design from the first week of class, when they have very few tools in their toolkit, so it is essential that we create design tasks that are gradually more complex, and provide the students with the intellectual tools they need as they need them.

We are also trying to include the skills that the students will need to be able to do real work afterwards, not just theoretical foundations which will eventually allow them to do something.  For example, we decided that students needed to learn how to solder, because breadboarding is too unreliable for anything that has to last more than a few hours.  This in turn required us to design a prototyping board that would allow the students to do design and still solder their designed circuit onto a PC board.

We’ve been guided throughout by what we want students to create, both during the class and after the class is over, rather than what we want them to “know”, “understand”, or “analyze”.

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