Basic levels of learning Domains of Learning

Besides the four basic levels of learning, educational psychologists have developed several additional levels. These classifications consider what is to be learned. Is it knowledge only, a change in attitude, a physical skill, or a combination of knowledge and skill? One of the more useful categorizations of learning objectives includes three domains: cognitive domain (knowledge), affective domain (attitudes, beliefs and values) and psychomotor domain (physical skills). Each of the domains has a hierarchy of educational objectives.

The listing of the hierarchy of objectives is often called a taxonomy. A taxonomy of educational objectives is a systematic classification scheme for sorting learning outcomes into the three broad categories (cognitive, affective and psychomotor) and ranking the desired outcomes in a developmental hierarchy from least complex to most complex.

Learning is progressive and occurs at several basic levels.

Fig. 14.4: Learning is progressive and occurs at several basic levels.

Cognitive Domain

Fig. 14.5: Cognitive Domain

Cognitive Domain

The cognitive domain, described by Dr. Benjamin Bloom, is one of the best known educational domains. It contains additional levels of knowledge and understanding and is commonly referred to as Bloom's taxonomy of educational objectives.

In aviation, educational objectives in the cognitive domain refer to knowledge which might be gained as the result of attending a ground school, reading about aircraft systems, listening to a preflight briefing, reviewing meteorological reports, or taking part in computer-based training. The highest educational objective level in this domain may also be illustrated by learning to correctly evaluate a flight maneuver, repair an airplane engine, or review a training syllabus for depth and completeness of training.

Affective Domain

Fig. 14.6: Affective Domain

Affective Domain

The affective domain may be the least understood and in many ways, the most important of the learning domains. A similar system for specifying attitudinal objectives has been developed by D.R. Krathwohl. Like the Bloom taxonomy, Krathwohl's hierarchy attempts to arrange these objectives in an order of difficulty.

Since the affective domain is concerned with a student's attitudes, personal beliefs and values, measuring educational objectives in this domain is not easy. For example, how is a positive attitude toward safety evaluated? Observable safety-related behavior indicates a positive attitude, but this is not like a simple pass/fail test that can be used to evaluate cognitive educational objective levels. Although a number of techniques are available for evaluation of achievement in the affective domain, most rely on indirect inferences.

Psychomotor Domain

There are several taxonomies which deal with the psychomotor domain (physical skills), but none are as popularly recognized as the Bloom and Krathwohl taxonomies. However, the taxonomy developed by E.J. Simpson also is generally acceptable.

Psychomotor or physical skills always have been important in aviation. Typical activities involving these skills include learning to fly a precision instrument approach procedure, programming a GPS receiver, or using sophisticated maintenance equipment. As physical tasks and equipment become more complex, the requirement for integration of cognitive and physical skills increases.

Practical Application of Learning Objectives

The additional levels of learning definitely apply to aviation flight and maintenance training. A comparatively high level of knowledge and skill is required. The student also needs to have a well-developed, positive attitude. Thus, all three domains of learning, cognitive, affective and psychomotor, are pertinent.

Psychomotor Domain

Fig. 14.7: Psychomotor Domain

These additional levels of learning are the basis of the knowledge, attitude and skill learning objectives commonly used in advanced qualification programs for airline training. They also can be tied to the practical test standards to show the level of knowledge or skill required for a particular task. A list of action verbs for the three domains shows appropriate behavioral objectives at each level (Fig. 14.8).

Instructors who are familiar with curricula development will recognize that the action verbs are examples of performance-based objectives.

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