What is the SOLO Taxonomy?

SOLO stands for Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes.

It was developed in 1982 by John B. Biggs and Kelvin Collis to outline a hierarchy with 5 levels that attempts to assess the students learning based on the quality of their work.

With SOLO taxonomy, teachers and students are able to:

  • thoughtfully design learning intentions and learning experiences
  • identify and use effective strategies and success criteria
  • provide feedback and feed forward assessment of learning outcomes
  • reflect meaningfully on what to do next

Here’s a simplified version of SOLO taxonomy:

Here’s the technical version:

Let’s break it down to understand what each level means:

  • Prestructural – Lower Order
    • Students acquires unconnected information.
    • The information is not organised amd makes no sense.
    • Students respond with “I don’t know, I’m parroting what I am supposed to say”, or write an irrelevant comment.
  • UniStructural
    • Simple connections are created between ideas.
    • Students may be able to give a vague or general answer, know some terms relevant to the topic, not able to explain the terms in depth when pushed.
    • Keywords: Identify, name.
  • MultiStructural
    • More connections are being created, but lacks the meta-connections between them.
    • Students’ knowledge remain at the level of remembering, memorizing and parroting what they have learned.
    • Students have surface level understanding. They are like builders without their tools – all the pieces are there, but they don’t know how they connect.
    • They cannot use a concept in new and innovative ways because they simply don’t understand it well enough.
    • Keywords: Combine, describe, list, order
  • Relational
    • Student sees the significance of the various pieces of information and can develop relationships between them.
    • Students can identify patterns, explain how parts of a topic link together, compare and contrast different elements of a topic, view a topic from several perspectives.
    • Keywords: Analyse, apply, argue, debate, compare, contrast, check, judge, critique, explain, moderate, relate, integrate, justify
  • Extended Abstract – Higher order
    • Students can make connections beyond the problem, Can generalise and apply to new situation, Can transfer learning and make links between subject areas.
    • Students may learn something in the classroom and apply it in their lives outside in a different context.
    • Students may also be able to develop theoretical ideas and use them to make assumptions about future events.
    • Keyword: Reflect, evaluate, create, hypothesis, design, invent, conceptualise, theorise, project, abstract

Here’s an example of how the SOLO taxonomy can be applied to a learning objective “Who is the best footballer, Ronaldo or Bale?”:

Like Bloom’s taxonomy, verbs are used to identify what actions take place at each level.

Here are samples to illustrate how the SOLO taxonomy can be used to create a differentiated success criteria for functioning knowledge outcomes:

Source – http://pamhook.com/solo-apps/functioning-knowledge-rubric-generator/
Source – http://pamhook.com/solo-apps/functioning-knowledge-rubric-generator/

Examples of primary school students using SOLO taxonomy:


Hook, P. (2021). Hooked on Thinking. Taken from http://pamhook.com/solo-taxonomy/

Hook, P.(2021). Hooked SOLO functioning knowledge rubric generater. Taken from http://pamhook.com/solo-apps/functioning-knowledge-rubric-generator/

Biggs, J. (2021). SOLO Taxonomy. Taken from http://www.johnbiggs.com.au/solo_taxonomy.html

Understanding Bloom’s Taxonomy

Boom’s Taxonomy was developed by Benjamin Bloom to provide categories of thinking skills that help educators formulate questions and provoke learners with different levels of thinking to stimulate their learning. The six thinking skills are:

Bloom's Taxonomy | Center for Teaching | Vanderbilt University

Example learning objectives and activities for each thinking skills:

  • Remember/Knowledge
    • Learning objectives – By the end of the lesson, students will be able to label different parts of the human brain, list various kinds of loops in javascript.
    • Activities – memorize a poem, recall state capitals or remember math formulas.
  • Understand/Comprehension
    • Learning objectives – By the end of this lesson, students will be able to recognize different types of number sequences, distinguish between mass and weight.
    • Activities – Organize the animal kingdom based on a given framework, illustrate the difference between a rectangle and square, summarize the plot of a simple story.
  • Apply/Application
    • Learning objectives – By the end of this lesson, students will be able to compute their annual pocket money using this mathematical formula, use this accounting software for their annual family budget, demonstrate how to work in a diverse culture.
    • Activities – Use a formula to solve a problem, select a design to meet a purpose, reconstruct the passage of a new law through a given government/system
  • Analyse/Analysis
    • Learning objectives – By the end of this lesson, students will be able to differentiate between static and relative positioning, compare and contrast warm and cold-blooded animals, analyze how leaves change colors during the fall season.
    • Activities – Identify the ‘parts of’ democracy, explain how the steps of the scientific process work together, identify why a machine isn’t working.
  • Evaluate/Evaluation
    • Learning objectives – By the end of this lesson, students will be able to assess the environmental impact of coal mining, appraise the practice of social media advertising in business, defend their proposed solutions.
    • Activities – make a judgment regarding an ethical dilemma, interpret the significance of a given law of physics, illustrate the relative value of a technological innovation in a specific setting—a tool that helps recover topsoil farming, for example.
  • Create/Synthesis
    • Learning objectives – By the end of this lesson, students will be able to develop an application for the Google play store, create financial statements in MS Excel, come up with the innovative ideas to tackle climate change.
    • Activities – design a new solution to an ‘old’ problem that honors/acknowledges the previous failures, delete the least useful arguments in a persuasive essay, write a poem based on a given theme and tone.

Let’s apply Bloom’s taxonomy to a popular topic to develop questioning:

Goldilocks & the Three Bears

Remember/Knowledge – Who was the biggest bear? What food was too hot?

Understand/Comprehension – Why didn’t the bear eat the porridge? Why did the bear leave their house?

Apply/Application – List the sequence of events in the story. Draw 3 pictures showing the beginning, middle and ending of the story.

Analyse/Analysis – Why do you think Goldilocks went for a sleep? How would you feel if you were Baby Bear? What kind of person do you think Goldilocks is and why?

Evaluate/Evaluation – Write a review for the story and specify the type of audience that would enjoy the book. Why has this story been told repeatedly throughout the years? Act out a mock court case as though the bears are taking Goldilocks to court.

Create/Synthesis – How could you re-write this story in a different setting such as a city or a foreign country? Write a set of rules to prevent what happened in the story.

More examples of Bloom’s taxonomy used to develop learning:

Schrock's Guide- Revised Bloom's Taxonomy: PowerPoint ...
Source – https://www.schrockguide.net/bloomin-apps.html
Pin on Education
Source – https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/78250112252315481/
22 Ways To Use Twitter For Learning Based On Bloom's Taxonomy
Source – https://www.teachthought.com/technology/22-ways-to-use-twitter-for-learning-based-on-blooms-taxonomy/

Integration of Bloom’s taxonomy in activities with digital tools:

Integrating Technology with Bloom's Taxonomy - TeachOnline
Source – https://teachonline.asu.edu/2016/05/integrating-technology-blooms-taxonomy/

Integration of Bloom’s taxonomy using G suite apps:

Source – https://www.schrockguide.net/bloomin-apps.html

Android Apps that support Bloom’s taxonomy:

Source – https://www.schrockguide.net/bloomin-apps.html

Online tools that support Bloom’s taxonomy:

Source – https://www.schrockguide.net/bloomin-apps.html

References (APA Style 7th edition):

TeachThought. (2021). What Is Bloom’s Taxonomy? A Definition For Teachers. Taken from What Is Bloom’s Taxonomy? A Definition For Teachers

Watson, S. (2019). Asking Better Questions With Bloom’s Taxonomy. Taken from https://www.thoughtco.com/asking-better-questions-with-blooms-taxonomy-3111327