Assessment and Learning in the Virtual World: Tasks, Taxonomies and Teaching for Real

Michael Vallance, Stewart M. Martin


Many educational institutions make use of assessment schemes based on an ordered hierarchy of cognitive activity, where the judgments of educators on the learning progress of students are expressed using marks or grades. These have high face-validity because they appear to represent intuitively sound descriptions of learning development. The language found in many such assessment structures and their protocols reflects the hierarchy within a revised Bloom's Taxonomy where, in the cognitive domain, evaluation and synthesis is regarded as superior to analysis or application, which are themselves rewarded above memory or understanding. Virtual worlds provide an opportunity to explore new educational contexts for analyzing and measuring cognitive processes that support learning. The present research used the Second Life virtual world as a medium for remotely located students to communicate in the collaborative construction and programming of robots. Iterative tasks were used to explore several neo-Bloomian cognitive processes and knowledge dimensions. Analysis of 60 hours of video from classroom activity, transcribed data and in-world interaction suggests that the hierarchy of descriptors and associated ratings that are used within assessment schemes based on neo-Bloomian taxonomies may not accurately correspond to the 'higher order' cognitive ability development of students.


virtual; Bloom; taxonomy; Japan; UK

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