Structure of Observed Learning Outcome SOLO Taxonomy

Some thoughts on SOLO

Hexagons, linkage, relational, extended abstract, HOT Maps and lots more. Not all of these ideas are directly part of SOLO but they seem to have been associated with this taxonomy.

I like SOLO. I like SOLO a lot and as I explore more I can see lots of potential to improve the quality of learning in schools. SOLO allows a range of systems to be improved and these are enhanced if students are also allowed in on the secrets – in fact, I think that student engagement with SOLO, their understanding how to learn and how to assess the quality of their learning may well turn out to be the most powerful aspect of this system that has been around since the early 80s.

I copied the next bit from our favourite on-line encyclopaedia, Wikipedia.


Structure of Observed Learning Outcome – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: “Structure of Observed Learning Outcome
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Structure of Observed Learning Outcome (SOLO) taxonomy is a model that describes levels of increasing complexity in student’s understanding of subjects.[1] It was proposed by John B. Biggs and K. Collis[2] and has since gained popularity.[citation needed]
[edit]The model

The model consists of 5 levels of understanding [3][4]
Pre-structural (PS) – 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 (US)- The student’s response only focuses on one relevant aspect.
Multi-structural (MS)- The student’s response focuses on several relevant aspects but they are treated independently and additively. Assessment of this level is primarily quantitative.
Relational (RE)- 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 (EA)- The previous integrated whole may be conceptualised at a higher level of abstraction and generalised to a new topic or area.”


SOLO and Blooms

SOLO is a true taxonomy, unlike Bloom’s which struggles to be an ordered list, a hierarchy, while SOLO is built by one stage requiring input from the previous stage. Bloom’s is very valuable for teachers to help identify variety in questioning etc.  SOLO is different and has a wider appeal from planning lessons to student peer assessment.

If you go onto Twitter and search for the hashtag #solo then you will find lots of very interesting articles and lots of helpful advice that should allow you to begin to engage with SOLO and to explore some of its potential for quality learning. There are only, at the moment, three books dedicated to SOLO. Amazon and other good book sellers have details. Just search for solo taxonomy and your wishes will be met.

I do have some cautions, though.

Don’t be too keen to plan lessons that rush to Extended Abstract too quickly. Deep learning usually requires a quite extensive knowledge base and SOLO implies that the stages requiring a knowledge input are quite limited. In one text it refers to unistructural as being one piece of knowledge and multistructural as two facts. As with all “definitions” one has to think about what is good learning and not how one meets these definitions.

The Extended Abstract (EA) level, essentially use the learning in a novel way, is challenging so it can’t be met by just a cursory glance at something not yet covered in the lesson.

Also having completed a piece of work at EA level does that work then drop into the MS level as it is not known and therefore knowledge? As with Bloom’s evaluation is no longer evaluation if the student has learned the evaluation parrot fashion.

What do you think?

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