The tower of Bloom: Modeling constructionism and active learning in preservice teacher education classrooms

Date of this Version


Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Details

Interim status: Citation only.

Williams, M. H. (2008). The tower of Bloom: Modeling constructionism and active learning in preservice teacher education classrooms. Paper presented at the Australian Teacher Education Association National Conference, University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. ISBN: 0977568512

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2008 HERDC submission

© Copyright Australian Teacher Education Association, 2008


Traditionally, the lecture-based format for instruction has been used extensively in teaching, especially in university courses. Although active learning and student-centered learning is being encouraged in the primary and secondary classrooms, university classrooms, in some cases, tend to remain very traditional, using direct teaching as a primary form of content delivery. This is a passive form of instruction, even when these lectures are supplemented with visual slides. This type of instruction has been shown to result in “decreased student engagement, frequent student inattention and exclusion of nonverbal learning modalities” (Sivilotti & Pike, 2007, p. 362). The traditional lecture appeals primarily to a single learning style, and research shows that a multimodal delivery is more effective (Sivilotti & Pike, 2007). University lecturers in teacher education courses need to model innovative and exemplary practice in the classroom to encourage the use of active learning and constructionist methods in pre-service teachers’ practice in the future. This paper reports a case study example of a pre-service teacher education class at Bond University on the Gold Coast of Queensland, in which the use of “The Tower of Bloom”, an interactive, team, and constructionist activity is used to synthesize and demonstrate the various levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Bloom’s Taxonomy, or the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy, is one of the basic models for good lesson planning and objective writing and is included as basic information in many preservice teacher education courses. The knowledge levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy are linear in content and are normally disseminated in a direct, lecture method. By using a very interactive and constructionist approach to Bloom’s Taxonomy, students’ comprehension and ability to apply this information can be greatly improved. Constructionism provides the opportunity for students to “learn by making” and allows them to work with concrete materials rather than strictly dealing with abstract concepts. The benefits of active learning and constructionist activities in the university setting will be reviewed and discussed. Good modeling of active learning strategies in the pre-service teacher education classroom is key to the successful transfer of the knowledge on how to successfully implement active learning, constructionist activities in other situations. The use of this type of active learning strategy in the university classroom has been surveyed and reviewed. Students’ attitudes regarding active learning in the university setting were varied and significant. The surveys identified the pre-service teacher’s intent to use active learning strategies in their own classroom in the future. A description and procedure section on how to replicate this activity will be provided as an example of how to activate learning in the university classroom through active learning/constructionist activities.

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This document has been peer reviewed.