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  • Writer's pictureDr. Scott Dueker

Semester's End and Bloom's Taxonomy

I just finished my first semester as faculty in the ABA master’s program at Ball State University. Literally, I just finished grading everything. That’s the bad part about teaching. I love imparting knowledge though. So, now I’m going to vent a bit about the two classes I taught. Maintaining confidentiality, of course.

I taught the introductory course to the degree sequence. An introduction to basic behavioral concepts. I loved teaching the course and had taught similar ones as part of my doctoral program. But given that this was the first course in the sequence, I had students just moving up to graduate level work. The number of emails I received over the course of the semester complaining about the change in difficulty was amazing. They seemed to expect to regurgitate information rather than apply the concepts.

Bloom’s Taxonomy gives us a great way to think about how we teach. At the lowest level is basic regurgitation: remembering facts. That is like teaching to the test. In a master’s level class that is preparing students to become practitioners of ABA, we need to aim a bit higher. Students here need to be able to at least Apply and Analyze to be successful. And that’s where the breakdown seemed to occur for some of the students. By the end of the semester, many of them “got it.” But not all. And that was disappointing.

The biggest disappointment, however, was how many students simply did not turn in assignments. Discussion boards, in particular, are a super easy way to get points. But a group of students in one section of my class just didn’t participate. They started okay, but about 2/3 through the semester, just stopped posting. And some also randomly did not turn in assignments. I’m not sure if they thought it wouldn’t affect their grade, but each one has an impact. Not only do the assignments add to your grade, but they are designed to build upon each other toward the final project. If you don’t get that feedback on your earlier assignment, you’re asking for problems.

So, I leave the semester with mixed feelings about my students. Some were amazing and others really need to evaluate if this program is right for them. I think next semester, I’m going to start out with a video on Bloom’s Taxonomy and where the course fits to lay out the expectations. They didn’t seem to get it with the current materials.


Bloom, B. S. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives. Vol. 1: Cognitive domain. New York: McKay, 20-24.

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