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Biggs & Collis: Solo Taxonomy Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


SOLO stands for Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes. It was developed in 1982 by John B. Biggs and Kelvin Collis. It is essent­ially a hierarchy which has 5 stages or levels that attempts to assess the students learning based on the quality of their work. Like Bloom’s taxonomy it looks and structures many of the key verbs used in assessment into different levels.

SOLO can be used not only in assess­ment, but in designing the curriculum in terms of the learning outcomes intended, which is helpful in implem­enting constr­uctive alignment. SOLO can also explain why those who use low complexity arguments in political or marital disputes usually win – in the short term. But in politics that’s all you need

Solo Taxonomy shares simila­rities with the Modified Daggett’s Applic­ation Model, where the higher levels of learning are achieved when learning is applied in real world unpred­ica­table situat­ions, rather than just applying it to studies within a single unit of learning

Model - five levels of unders­tanding

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.

Solo Taxonomy

The diagram lists verbs typical of each such level.
Source: http:/­/ww­w.j­ohn­big­gs.c­­/so­lo_­gra­ph.html

SOLO has many advantages over Bloom's Taxonomy

1. SOLO is resear­ch/­evi­dence based on structure of student learning outcomes (versus Bloom's developed from proposal by a committee of educators)
2. SOLO is a theory about teaching and learning (versus Bloom's theory about knowledge)
3. SOLO is based on levels of ascending cognitive complexity (versus Bloom's questi­onable hierar­chical link between levels) This is powerful when giving feedback, feed-f­orward and feed-up. Enables proximate - hierar­chical - explicit feedback For example - Educators and students find it easy to determine what they are doing - the SOLO complexity of the task - Educators and students find it easy to reliably and validly determine how well it is going - SOLO differ­ent­iated success criteria - Educators and students find it easy to reliably and validly determine their next steps - plus one SOLO level
4. SOLO has high inter-­rater reliab­ility - educators and students tend to agree when moderating student work against SOLO levels - (versus Bloom's with low inter-­rater reliab­ility)
5. SOLO levels can be commun­icated through text, hand signs and symbols - across large and noisy learning enviro­nments (versus Bloom's where levels commun­icated by text alone)
6. SOLO allows task and outcome to be at different levels (versus Bloom's not design­ed/­cannot be used to level outcomes against each task)
7. SOLO has clarity of verb use for each level. Clarity of verb level is a powerful advantage when educators are planning and writing learning intentions using OBE and constr­uctive alignment - and when students are doing their own inquiry - see below. (versus Bloom's confused verb use across levels.)
8. SOLO can be used to look at levels of declar­ative knowledge and functi­oning knowledge including metaco­gnitive reflec­tion. Kinds of knowledge
9. SOLO is brutally and blissfully simple and can be used by students as young as five to look at their own learning outcome and the learning outcomes of their peers