Tip #8: Clarify the desired levels of learning.

It is essential to clearly identify the desired level of learning we want the participants to attain. This means that we need to decide whether our aim during the course of the workshop is for the participants to: know the information, but not understand it [KNOWLEDGE]; know and understand it [COMPREHENSION]; or know, understand, and use it [APPLICATION]. These are the first three of six progressive building blocks of learning (otherwise known as Bloom’s Taxonomy of Behavioral Objectives).

It is unlikely that a trainer will ever intentionally aim only for the lowest rung, or KNOWLEDGE. At the very least, we want participants to both know and understand what they are taught [COMPREHENSION]. If our intention is to change attitudes, then COMPREHENSION may be the highest level of learning we can accomplish. However, if our intention is to build or strengthen specific skills, APPLICATION must be our minimum desired learning level.

APPLICATION is the launching pad for all higher-level thinking. Once our participants have demonstrated that they know, comprehend, and can apply new information or skills, they are ready for the last three building blocks of learning: ANALYSIS, SYNTHESIS, and EVALUATION.

If the participants will need to organize and reorganize information into categories, the desired level of learning is ANALYSIS. If they will need to create something new, the desired level is SYNTHESIS. If they will need to make judgments when there is no one answer, then the desired level of learning is EVALUATION.

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