SOLO Taxonomy

The Structure of Observed Learning Outcome (SOLO) taxonomy is a model of learning that:

  • “Provides a simple and robust way of describing how learning outcomes grow in complexity from surface to deep understanding” Biggs and Collin (1982)
  • Is similar to Bloom’s taxonomy but it has one major advantage: SOLO taxonomy provides a user friendly, common language of learning that enables the student and teacher to explicitly understand the learning process.

The 5 levels of understanding are:

  • Pre-structural – The task is not attacked appropriately; the student hasn’t really understood the point and uses too simple a way of going about it.
  • Uni-structural – The student’s response only focuses on one relevant aspect.
  • Multi-structural – The student’s response focuses on several relevant aspects but they are treated independently and additively. Assessment of this level is primarily quantitative.
  • Relational – The different aspects have become integrated into a coherent whole. This level is what is normally meant by an adequate understanding of some topic.
  • Extended abstract – The previous integrated whole may be conceptualised at a higher level of abstraction and generalised to a new topic or area.

To get you started please watch this short video (8 minutes) by David Didau that was filmed at a TeachMeet Clevedon earlier this year:

Also, here is a a great rubric and poster designed by Tait Coles that provides students (and teachers) with a simple visual on how SOLO taxonomy works along with the specific signs for each level (i.e the circle for prestructural and the single bar for unistructural):

Here is another great visual, this time in a comic book style.

Here are some great links to get you going with SOLO Taxonomy in the classroom:

1.  Pam Hook’s website has free resources to download for classroom use.  Also check out her two books on SOLO taxonomy here and here

2.  This is a link to Canons Broadside teaching and learning blog.  In this particular post, they explain the various ways SOLO can be utilised in the classroom including SOLO stations, interacting with GCSE mark schemes, using HOT (Hooked On Thinking) Maps, peer and self evaluation, written feedback and finally, successful planning.

A great starting point for any budding SOLO enthusiasts!!

3.  Matt Bebbington’s first SOLO experiment

4.  David Fawcett’s SOLO PE journey

5.  David Didau’s SOLO English experiences.  He also writes about SOLO in more detail in his book The Perfect Ofsted English Lesson

6.  Tait Coles’ Prezi explaining the five levels of  understanding that underpin SOLO Taxonomy

7. Matt Bebbington’s SOLO Taxonomy Workshop from Wilmlsow High School’s Learning Conference 2012

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