Published in Proceedings of the 2009 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition: Austin, TX, June 14, 2009. 10 pages. Copyright © 2009 American Society for Engineering Education.
Engineering faculty and Architecture faculty both address student learning through the prism of Bloom’s taxonomy of the cognitive domain, but do so in diametrically opposite manners. Engineering faculty tend to assess student learning starting at the lowest taxonomy level, Acquisition of Knowledge, and progress in their curriculum and courses to the higher levels of Synthesis and Evaluation. Compare this to a studio environment in an undergraduate Architecture curriculum, where the faculty often begin with the highest levels, such as Evaluation in applying value judgments about the adequacy of the design and Synthesis, by putting disparate pieces of information together, and Analysis in solving large complex problems by reducing them to smaller pieces. Thus, the paper’s hypothesis is that Engineering faculty typically move up Bloom’s taxonomy of the cognitive domain, whereas Architecture faculty typically move down the taxonomy.
The implications of this hypothesis are interesting from both a pedagogical and practical point of view. Can we learn from each other and benefit from each other’s experience? Can we aid the students who seek larger global understanding, yet are often discouraged during their preliminary acquisition of fundamental factual knowledge?
This paper explores this thesis by studying the literature surrounding the Cognitive Domain in both Civil Engineering and Architecture, and gives some suggestions for providing engineering students with more opportunities to explore higher levels on Bloom’s taxonomy in the undergraduate curriculum.