Alignment of Assessment Objectives with Instructional Objectives Using Revised Bloom's Taxonomy—The Case for Food Science and Technology Education

Authors

  • V. A. Jideani,

    1. Author Jideani is with Dept. of Food Technology, Cape Peninsula Univ. of Technology, P.O. Box 1906, Bellville 7535, Cape Town, South Africa. Author Jideani is with Dept. of Food Science and Technology, School of Agriculture, Univ. of Venda, Private Bag X5050, Thohoyandou 0950, Limpopo Province, South Africa. Direct inquiries to author Jideani (E-mail: jideaniv@cput.ac.za or vjideani@yahoo).
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  • I. A. Jideani

    1. Author Jideani is with Dept. of Food Technology, Cape Peninsula Univ. of Technology, P.O. Box 1906, Bellville 7535, Cape Town, South Africa. Author Jideani is with Dept. of Food Science and Technology, School of Agriculture, Univ. of Venda, Private Bag X5050, Thohoyandou 0950, Limpopo Province, South Africa. Direct inquiries to author Jideani (E-mail: jideaniv@cput.ac.za or vjideani@yahoo).
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Abstract

Abstract:  Nine food science and technology (FST) subjects were assessed for alignment between the learning outcomes and assessment using revised Bloom's taxonomy (RBT) of cognitive knowledge. Conjoint analysis was used to estimate the utilities of the levels of cognitive, knowledge, and the attribute importance (cognitive process and knowledge dimension) for learning outcomes and assessments. Lecturers for these subjects produced learning outcomes for ability of students to Understand (4.935) Procedural (3.316) as well as Apply (4.491) Conceptual (3.083) knowledge. Lecturers’ expected students’ to move beyond mere recall and recognition of knowledge to higher order cognitive knowledge of apply, analyze, evaluate, and create. However, the assessments tested students’ ability to Understand (4.791) Conceptual (4.168) as well as Remember (3.217) Procedural (0.581) knowledge resulting in a misaligned teaching and learning exercise. For all the subjects, emphasis was more (52.9% to 72.9%) on the cognitive dimension than on forms of knowledge in formulating the learning outcomes, whereas emphasis placed on the cognitive (33.3% to 62.5%) dimension and the knowledge (37.5% to 66.7%) forms in the questions differed from subject to subject. The cognitive weight in the assessment was more for Understand (1.781)/Remember (0.787) Conceptual (1.416) knowledge. RBT provides an assessment framework that can be used to assist instructors in going beyond factual knowledge and comprehension to include academic skills such as application, analysis, evaluation, and creation.

Introduction

Learning outcomes are precise statements of what faculty expects students to know and to be able to do in some measurable way as a result of completing a program, course, unit, or lesson (Huba and Freed 2000; Anderson 2006). In this article, our focus is on learning outcome in relation to a lesson for food science and technology (FST). In addition to guiding teaching, learning, and assessment strategy, effective learning outcomes facilitate student orientation to the subject and communicate expectations (Chadwick 2004). For effective learning to take place, there is the need for constructive alignment of the curriculum, which ensures that an education program, the learning outcomes, teaching and learning approaches, assessment techniques, and course evaluation all complement each other (Chadwick 2004; Valsraj and Lygo-Baker 2006). Two aspects of the constructive alignment worth mentioning are (1) students construct meaning from what they learn, the teacher therefore needs to plan learning activities that will enable the set outcomes to be achieved and (2) implement assessment methods that truly evaluate the learning gained (Biggs ND).

Academic success is not in terms of what students can remember, but in terms of what students are able to do with their knowledge. Memorization and recall are lower order cognitive skills (LOCSs) that require only a minimum level of understanding. In contrast, the application of knowledge and critical thinking are higher order cognitive skills (HOCSs) which require deep conceptual understanding (Zoller 1993; Crowe and others 2008). Most students have difficulty performing at these higher levels (Bransford and others 2000; Bailin 2002). According to Napoleon and others’ (2006) concepts related to higher level understanding will require more creative curriculum integration to allow for a richness of knowledge and understanding making students to become collaborative, skilled, and engaged participants within our democratic society. If lecturers will help the learners attain HOCS the development of reliable tools that reinforce and assess these teaching strategies is essential. If classroom activities focus on concepts requiring HOCS but students are tested only on factual recall, they assume that they do not need to learn material at a high level. Similarly, if facts and details are discussed in class but test questions set at a HOCS, students often perform poorly on examinations because they have not been given enough practice to develop a deep conceptual understanding of the material (Crowe and others 2008). Either case of misalignment of teaching and testing leads to considerable frustration on the part of both instructor and student.

One approach to ensure and assess the alignment of assessment methods to learning outcomes is to use Bloom's taxonomy of cognitive domains. It is a well-defined and broadly accepted tool for categorizing types of thinking into different levels: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation (Crowe and others 2008). Revised Bloom's taxonomy (RBT) further categorized the original and converted the different categories to their active verbs (Anderson and others 2001). The horizontal dimension, known as the cognitive process dimension (Table 1 and Figure 1), is a modification of Bloom's taxonomy, with Application, Analysis, and Evaluation replaced by their verb forms; Knowledge has become Remember; Comprehension, Understand, and Synthesis, Create. The relative position of Evaluate and Create was changed, with Create assuming the highest position on the cognitive process dimension (Krathwohl 2002; Anderson 2005). The vertical dimension (Table 1 and Figure 2), Knowledge dimension, consists of four general types of knowledge: Factual, Conceptual, Procedural, and Metacognitive. Anderson (2002) reported three important elements of the RBT, namely, (1) revised version contains 24 cells (Table 1) which teachers can use as framework to examine and enhance curriculum alignment; (2) since the alignment is estimated in terms of the relationships of objectives, instructional activities and materials, and assessments with the taxonomy table, rather than with each other, the alignment process focuses directly on student learning and yields reasonably valid estimates of alignment; and (3) the taxonomy table is generic in that by replacing topics with types of knowledge, the taxonomy table can be used with all subject matters. Our objective was to use the RBT taxonomy of cognitive domains to examine the learning outcomes and assessment questions set for some undergraduate courses with a view to determine (1) to what cognitive levels were learning outcomes written; (2) what cognitive levels were students assessed; and (3) the extent of alignment of learning outcomes with assessment.

Table 1–.  Revised Bloom's taxonomy table.
Knowledge dimensionCognitive process dimension
1.2.3.4.5.6.
RememberUnderstandApplyAnalyzeEvaluateCreate
  1. Source: Krathwohl (2002); Dalton (2003).

A. FactualRemember factsUnderstand factsApply factsAnalyze using facts, concepts, principles, and proceduresEvaluate using facts, concepts, principles, and proceduresCreate using facts, concepts, principles, and procedures
B. Conceptual/PrincipleRemember conceptsUnderstand conceptsApply concepts   
C. ProceduralRemember proceduresUnderstand proceduresApply procedures   
D. MetacognitiveRemember metacognitive strategiesUnderstand metacognitive strategiesApply metacognitive strategiesAnalyze metacognitive strategiesEvaluate metacognitive strategiesCreate metacognitive strategies
    
 KnowledgeSkillAbility
Figure 1–.

The Cognitive Process Dimension and their alternative names (Adapted from Krathwohl, 2002).

Figure 2–.

Major types and subtypes of knowledge dimension (Adapted from Krathwohl 2002).

Methodology

Mapping of learning outcomes and assessment onto RBT table

Both learning outcomes as well as assessments of nine randomly selected FST subjects (FOCF, FOCS, FOCH, FOPR, FOPG, FOTY, FOCO, FOQA, and FODT) from two universities were assigned to their appropriate cognitive process dimension and knowledge dimension according to RBT. Typical statements of learning outcomes consist of a verb or verb phrase—the cognitive process(es) and a noun or noun phrase—the subject matter content (Krathwohl 2002) usually in the order learner–verb–subject matter. Any objective could be classified with the RBT table (Table 1) in one or more cells that correspond with the intersection of the column(s) appropriate for categorizing the verb(s) and the row(s) appropriate for categorizing the noun(s) or noun phrase(s) (Krathwohl 2002). To see how this placement of objective was accomplished, consider the following 2 objectives from the subject FOPG (Table 2).

Table 2–.  Learning for FOPG mapped on RBT table.a
Knowledge dimensionCognitive process dimension
1.2.3.4.5.6.
RememberUnderstandApplyAnalyzeEvaluateCreate
  1. aLO1 = Demonstrate an understanding of the basic principles of food packaging; LO2 = Knowledge of operation of packing equipment and management of packinghouses; LO3 & LO4 = Classify and identify various food packaging materials; LO5 = Demonstrate understanding of shelf-life determination; LO6 = Knowledge on the management of packinghouses, as well as the operation and material of construction of the equipment used in the packinghouses for primary horticultural products. Q1A = Define food packaging and outline the information that a food label may contain; Q1B = Discuss in detail the functions of food packaging; Q1C = Outline at least four requirements for a food packaging material; Q2A = What is an oxygen scavenger?; Q2B = Discuss the role of oxygen scavengers in active food packaging technology; Q2C = Explain six requirements for the selection of the right type of an oxygen scavenger; Q3A = Explain how “intelligent” food packaging works; Q3B = Distinguish between “hermetic” and “nonhermetic closure in food packaging; Q3C = Use a flow diagram to explain a generalized pack house system; Q4A = Discuss glass and aluminum as packaging materials in the food industry; Q4B = Discuss labeling of food packaging, information it contains, and purpose; Q5A = Distinguish between modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) and controlled atmosphere packaging (CAP); Q5B = Governments normally regulate food and nutritional labeling for two general reasons. Discuss these reasons; Q5C = Briefly discuss environmental concerns in the use of food packaging materials; Q6A = Discuss the general operational sequence undertaken in a pack house such as Avodene and Mopani packers; Q6B = Outline five major components of a packhouse management.

A. FactualLO2, LO4 (16.7%)Q1B, 2B, Q4A,4B, 5B, Q1A, 1C (12.5%)  
 Q1A,Q2A (12.5%)5C (37.5%)    
B. Conceptual/Principle LO1, LO3 (33.3%) 3B, 5A, 6B (18.8%)  
  2C, 3A, 3C (18.8%)    
C. ProceduralLO2, LO6 (33.3%)LO5 (16.7)    
  Q6A (6.2%)    
D. Metacognitive      
  • LO1: Demonstrate an understanding of the basic principles of food packaging.
  • LO2: Knowledge of operation of packing equipment and management of packinghouses.

Placement of learning outcome (LO1) along the Knowledge dimension (Table 1) requires a consideration of the noun phrase “basic principles of food packaging.” Basic principles of food packaging require knowledge of principles and generalizations so that we would classify the noun component as an example of  B, Conceptual Knowledge. The placement of the objective along the cognitive process dimension (Table 1 to 6) will require placement of the verbs: demonstrate an understanding (Figure 1). Both verbs call for the learners to construct meaning from instructional messages and as such will be placed as an example of Understand. Thus, LO1 was then placed in B2 cell of the RBT: Understand Conceptual Knowledge (B2). Following the same procedure, the noun phrase (operation of packing equipment and management of packinghouses) of LO2 is a subject-specific technique; hence, it belongs to C, Procedural Knowledge as well as A, Factual knowledge. The verb “knowledge” (Figure 1) will be placed as an example of retrieving relevant knowledge from long-term memory, Remember. Hence, this objective will be placed in 2 cells A1 and C1 corresponding to Remember Factual and Procedural Knowledge (Table 2). Similarly, other LO for this subject was mapped (Table 2) as well as other subjects (tables not shown).

Table 3–.  Plan and data file indicating learning outcomes, assessment questions frequency, and cognitive for the subject described inTable 2a.
Plan file (24 Profiles)Data file (Dummy coded)   
CognitiveKnowledgeRemUndAppAnaEvaCreateFactConProcMetaLO (%)Questions (%)Cog score
  1. aRem = Remember; Und = Understand; App = Apply; Ana = Analyze; Eva = Evaluate; Fact = Factual; Con = Conceptual; Proc = Procedural; Meta = Metacognitive; LO = Learning outcome; Cog score = Cognitive score.

RemMeta1000000001000
EvaFact0000001000000
AnaProc0001000010000
CreateProc0000000011000
UndMeta0100000001000
AppFact0010001000000
EvaMeta0000100001000
UndProc0100000010 6.2516.7 0.94
AnaCon000100010018.750 4.69
EvaProc0000000010000
RemCon1000000100016.7 1.50
CreateCon0000000100000
EvaCon0000100100000
AnaFact000100100012.5 00
AppCon001000010000 0.25
AnaMeta0001000001000
UndFac010000100037.5 12.50
AppMeta00100000010018.75
CreateMeta0000010001000
RemFact000010000112.50 6.30
UndCon010000010018.75500
RemProc100000001000 4.13
CreateFact0000011000000
AppProc0010000010000
Table 4–.  Utility scores for learning outcomes based on the cognitive process and knowledge dimension for each subject.
Cognitive and knowledgeUtility
FOCFFOCSFOCHFOPRFOPGFOTCFOCOFOQAFODTOverall
 (Constant)4.1674.1673.8134.1714.1653.8504.1674.1584.5504.134
CognitiveRemember−4.167−4.167−3.813−2.5968.33−3.850−4.167−4.158−4.550−2.571
 Understand−1.667−1.667−3.81317.7048.347.70017.633−2.0832.2754.935
 Apply10.83310.8338.688−4.171−4.1651.925−0.9678.3429.1004.491
 Analyze−1.667−1.6670.337−2.596−4.165−1.925−4.167−0.008−2.275−2.015
 Evaluate0.8330.833−1.737−4.171−4.1650.000−4.167−2.083−4.550−2.134
 Create−4.167−4.1670.337−4.171−4.165−3.850−4.167−0.008−4.441E-15−2.706
KnowledgeFactual−4.167−4.167−3.812−1.037−1.387−2.5673.950−4.158−3.033−2.264
 Conceptual2.5002.5004.5045.2121.3855.1330.9675.5420.0003.083
 Procedural5.8335.8333.121−0.0044.1681.283−0.7502.7757.5833.316
 Metacognitive−4.167−4.167−3.812−4.171−4.165−3.850−4.167−4.158−4.550−4.134
Importance (%)Cognitive60.060.060.070.060.056.272.956.352.9  60.9
 Knowledge40.040.040.030.040.043.827.143.747.1  39.1
Table 5–.  Utility scores for examination questions based on the cognitive process and knowledge dimension for each subject.
Cognitive and knowledgeUtility
FOCFFOCSFOCHFOPRFOPGFOTCFOCOFOQAFODTOverall
 (Constant)4.1674.1674.1674.1673.9763.9764.1674.1674.1674.232
CognitiveRemember0.833−4.16711.1114.5282.8657.8665.0435.043−4.1663.217
 Understand0.8332.0831.3889.96510.6776.5493.7283.7284.1664.791
 Apply−1.6672.083−1.389−3.080−4.948−3.9762.4132.413−1.389−1.060
 Analyze3.3332.083−2.777−3.0801.302−2.486−2.852−4.167−4.166−1.423
 Evaluate0.8332.083−4.167−4.167−4.948−3.976−4.167−4.1671.389−2.365
 Create−4.167−4.167−4.167−4.167−4.948−3.976−4.167−2.8524.166−3.160
KnowledgeFactual−0.833−4.1671.388−1.2694.4271.287−0.658−0.658−4.166−0.517
 Conceptual5.8330.0006.0186.7031.3023.1572.8522.8528.7954.168
 Procedural−0.8338.333−3.240−1.267−0.781−0.4681.9731.973−0.4630.581
 Metacognitive−4.167−4.167−4.167−4.167−4.948−3.976−4.167−4.167−4.166−4.232
Importance (%)Cognitive42.933.360.056.562.562.456.856.839.152.2
 Knowledge57.166.740.043.537.537.643.243.260.947.8
Table 6–.  Utility scores for cognitive score based on the cognitive process and knowledge dimension for each subject.
Cognitive and knowledgeUtility
FOCFFOCSFOCHFOPRFOPGFOTCFOCOFOQAFODTOverall
 (Constant)1.0131.0411.1941.0811.2611.1131.3200.7680.8261.069
CognitiveRemember0.067−1.0412.276−0.234−0.8864.9952.2970.440−0.8260.787
 Understand−0.0681.0411.8414.4294.694−1.1122.5751.4901.1411.781
 Apply0.405−0.521−0.549−0.994−1.261−0.720−1.1350.317−0.729−0.576
 Analyze0.6770.521−1.179−1.039−0.026−0.938−1.095−0.768−0.826−0.519
 Evaluate−0.0681.041−1.194−1.081−1.261−1.112−1.320−0.768−0.151−0.657
 Create−1.013−1.04−1.194−1.081−1.261−1.112−1.320−0.7101.391−0.816
KnowledgeFactual−0.293−1.0410.938−0.9082.156−0.397−0.285−0.290−0.826−0.105
 Conceptual1.1490.3471.4412.6940.2092.4811.6100.8471.9641.416
 Procedural−0.4731.735−1.184−0.705−1.104−0.971−0.0040.210−0.311−0.312
 Metacognitive−0.383−1.041−1.194−1.081−1.261−1.112−1.320−0.768−0.826−0.999
Importance (%)Cognitive51.042.956.859.363.563.057.158.344.355.1
 Knowledge49.057.143.240.736.537.042.941.755.744.9

The RBT table assists in mapping the assessment that is linked with particular types of objectives. Consider, for example, the following two questions from the question paper for FOPG (Table 2):

  • Q1A: Define food packaging and outline the information that a food label may contain.
  • Q1B: Discuss in detail the functions of food packaging.

The nouns in Q1A “food package and information on food label” are both examples of Factual Knowledge (A, Table 2). The two verbs in Q1A “define and outline” are examples of Remember and Analyze cognitive processes (1, 4, Table 2). Hence, this question was placed in two cells Remember Factual Knowledge (A1) and Analyze Factual Knowledge (A4). Following this method, the remaining questions for this subject and the other subjects were mapped on to RBT table.

Following mapping on RBT table of the learning outcomes as well as the assessment questions, appropriate frequency (in percent) of occurrences in each cell was estimated (Table 2) for each subject. Each individual item on the assessment paper was weighted according to the number of points attributed to the overall score on the assessment paper. Cognitive score was calculated for each question by dividing the associated mark by the total mark allocated. The cognitive weighted score was therefore calculated by multiplying the marks by the cognitive score.

Data analysis

Conjoint analysis was used to develop a model to describe the subject lecturers’ choice for cognitive process dimension (Remember, Understand, Apply, Analyze, Evaluate, and Create) and knowledge dimension (Factual, Conceptual, Procedural, and Metacognitive) in formulating learning outcomes and assessments. The conjoint procedure requires two files—a data file and a plan file. The plan file consists of the set of cognitive versus knowledge profiles to be used to assess the learning outcomes and question was generated using the Generate Orthogonal Design procedure (IBM SPSS 2010). The cognitive process dimension (Remember, Understand, Apply, Analyze, Evaluate, and Create) and the knowledge dimension (Factual, Conceptual, Procedural, and Metacognitive) of the RBT table were variables for a 6 × 4 factorial design generated using IBM SPSS version 19 with reset random number seed set to 200000. The random number seed was used to ensure repeatability of the design. The plan files generated are indicated in the first column of Table 3.

The data file contains the scores of those cognitive versus knowledge profiles based on the learning outcomes and question papers. Dummy coding was used to assign values “1” and “0” to reflect the presence and absence, respectively, of a cognitive versus knowledge level (Table 3). For example, the 6.25% in Table 3 under LO(%) for this subject was the frequency of occurrence of learning outcomes aimed at learners’ understanding procedural knowledge. Hence, a “1” was assigned to understand and procedural, while a “0” was assigned to the other cognitive and knowledge levels. Further analysis with conjoint required that the plan file profiles are the columns given 24 columns and the learning outcome frequency (LO%), Questions (%), or the Cognitive score are the row values for each cell.

Conjoint analysis syntax (IBM SPSS 2010) was used to analyze the data resulting in a utility score, called a part-worth, for each cognitive and knowledge level. Part-worths (expressed in a common unit) provides a quantitative measure of the preference for each cognitive and knowledge level by the subject lecturers, with larger part-worth values corresponding to greater preference (IBM SPSS 2010). The range of the utility values (highest to lowest) for each factor (cognitive and knowledge) provides a measure of how important the factor was to overall preference. More significant role is played by factors with greater utility ranges. The ranges are used to provide a measure of the relative importance of cognitive and knowledge dimensions known as an importance score or value expressed in percentage.

Results and Discussion

Cognitive and knowledge dimensions for learning outcomes

Table 4 summarizes the utilities (part-worth) scores for the learning outcomes for the nine subjects. The utilities pattern shows the most preferred level of cognitive and knowledge attributes. Levels with positive utility are preferred by the subject lecturers over those with negative utility. Conjoint analysis provides an approximate decomposition of the original scores. The utility for cognitive and knowledge dimensions considered in setting the learning outcomes is the sum of the intercept and the part-worth utilities (IBM SPSS 2010). The most considered cognitive/knowledge combination in formulating learning outcomes for FOCF is Apply (10.833) Procedural (5.833) knowledge (Intercept (4.167) + 10.833 + 5.833 = 20.8%) followed by Evaluate (0.833) Conceptual (2.500) knowledge (7.5%). This means that 20.8% of the learning outcomes for this subject was formulating for the ability of the students to apply procedural knowledge. Similar trend was observed for the second subject FOCS. For FOCH, the lecturer considered most the learners’ ability to Apply (8.668) Conceptual (4.504) knowledge (17.0%) followed by Analyze (0.337) or Create (0.337) Procedural (3.121) knowledge (7.3%). The implication is that majority (17.0%) of the learning outcomes for the subject was the ability of learners to Apply Conceptual knowledge. The most important cognitive and knowledge expected from the learner for FOPR was their ability to Understand (17.704) Conceptual (5.212) knowledge. This suggests that 27.1% of the learning outcomes for this subject was the ability of learners to understand conceptual knowledge. For FOPG, the main consideration was the ability of learners to Understand (8.335) Procedural (4.168) knowledge followed by Remember (8.327) Conceptual (1.385) knowledge. Hence, the majority (16.7%) of the learning outcomes for this subject was formulated for the learners’ ability to understand procedural knowledge followed by 13.9% for remembering conceptual knowledge. The form of knowledge remember is low cognitive forms of knowledge. However, the reversals indicate that at least two learning outcomes were formulated at the higher cognitive level. The subject FOTC learning outcomes were pitched on the learners’ ability to Understand (7.700) Conceptual (5.133) knowledge followed by Apply (1.925) Procedural (1.283) knowledge. This translates to 16.7% of the learning outcomes focusing on Understand Conceptual knowledge and 7.1% on Apply Procedural knowledge. The subject FOCO was more on learners’ ability to Understand (17.633) Factual (3.950) and Conceptual (0.967) knowledge translating to 25.8% of the learning outcomes formulated to Understand Factual knowledge. Factual knowledge includes terminology, details, and elements that students must know to be acquainted with a particular subject matter. There is little abstraction to factual knowledge (Anderson and Krathwohl 2001). The objective of the subject FOQA was formulated for learners to Apply (8.342) Conceptual (5.542) with a proportion of 18.0% as well as Procedural (2.775) knowledge. Apply (9.100) Procedural (7.583) with a proportion of 21.2% and Understand (2.275) Conceptual knowledge (6.8) was the focus of FODT.

The importance value was computed from the utility range for each attribute (cognitive and knowledge). The factors with the largest utility ranges are the most important in determining choice. For all the subjects, emphasis was more (52.9% to 72.9%) on the cognitive dimension (Remember to Create) than on forms of knowledge (Factual to Metacognitive) in formulating the learning outcomes.

The overall statistics suggests that the lecturers formulated the learning outcomes with more emphasis on the ability of learners’ to Understand (4.935) Procedural (3.316) knowledge, a proportion of 12.4% as well as Apply (4.491) Conceptual (3.083) knowledge corresponding to (11.7%). This means that most of the verbs used in formulating the learning outcomes contain one or more of the verbs under “Understand and Apply,” as depicted in Figure 1. More cognitive processes (interpreting, exemplifying, classifying, summarizing, inferring, comparing, and explaining) are associated with “Understand” than any other category. Understand is to construct meaning from instructional messages, including oral, written, and graphic communication and is most represented in national and international standards as it is critical for all further learning. Apply (executing and implementing) is to carry out a procedure to a familiar task or use a procedure to an unfamiliar task. Conceptual knowledge is more complex than factual knowledge and includes (1) knowledge of classifications and categories, (2) knowledge of principles and generalizations, and (3) knowledge of theories, models, and structure (Anderson and Krathwohl 2001). Knowledge of classifications and categories of concepts form the basis for principles and generalizations (Chamberlain and Cummings 2003); which, in turn, form the basis of theories, models, and structures (Whitehead 2005). Classification, principle, and theory capture the greatest amount of intellect within widely different disciplines (Anderson and Krathwohl 2001) as it translates to knowing the interrelationships among the basic elements within a larger structure that enable them to function together. Conceptual knowledge is acquired when students can explain the concepts in their own words and transfer information to new situations. Procedural knowledge involves knowing how to make or do something. It includes methods, techniques, algorithms, and skills as well as criteria one uses to determine when to use appropriate Procedural knowledge (Anderson 2005). Procedural knowledge is acquired when a student devises a way of achieving a goal by reformulating the problem into a more familiar form, recognizing the similarity and applying a learned procedure to solving a problem.

Cognitive and knowledge dimensions for assessment questions

Table 5 summarizes the utilities (part-worth) scores for the assessment questions based on cognitive process and knowledge dimension for the nine subjects. The most considered cognitive/knowledge combination in setting the questions for FOCF is Analyze (3.333) Conceptual (5.833) knowledge. This means that 13.3% of the questions for this subject was to assess the ability of the students to analyze conceptual knowledge. Analyze (differentiating, organizing, and attributing) is to break material into its constituent parts and distinguish relevant parts from irrelevant, determine how elements fit or function within a structure or determine a point of view, bias, values, or intent underlying presented material (Anderson and Krathwohl 2001). For FOCS, the emphasis was more on Understand/Apply/Analyze/Evaluate (2.083) Procedural (8.333) knowledge (14.6%). Evaluate (checking and critiquing) makes judgment based on criteria and standards, including detecting inconsistencies within a process or product; between a product and external criteria (Anderson and Krathwohl 2001). For FOCH, the lecturer considered most the learners’ ability to Remember (11.111) Conceptual (6.018) knowledge (21.3%) followed by Understand (1.388) Factual (1.388) knowledge (6.9%). The implication is that majority of the questions for the subject (21.3%) assessed the ability of learners to Remember Conceptual knowledge. Remember is closely related to retention and the other five cognitive processes (Understand, Apply, Analyze, Evaluate, and Create) are increasingly related to transfer of knowledge (Mayer 2002). Such low cognition will encourage rote learning in learners. The most important cognitive and knowledge assessed from the learners for FOPR was their ability to Understand (9.965) Conceptual (6.703) knowledge. This suggests that 20.8% of the questions for this subject was assessing the ability of learners to understand conceptual knowledge. For FOPG, the main consideration was the ability of learners to Understand (10.677) Factual (4.427) knowledge followed by Remember (2.865) Conceptual (1.302) knowledge. Hence, the majority (20.1%) of the questions for this subject was formulated to assess the learners’ ability to understand factual knowledge followed by 9.1% for remembering conceptual knowledge. The subject FOTC questions were on the learners’ ability to Remember (7.866) Conceptual (3.157) knowledge followed by Understand (6.549) Factual (1.287) knowledge. This translates to 15.0% of the questions focused on Remember Conceptual knowledge and 11.8% on Understand Factual knowledge. The subject FOCO assessed more the ability of learners to Remember (5.043) Conceptual (2.852) knowledge translating to 12.0% of the questions was expected to assess Remembering Conceptual followed by Understand (3.728)/Apply (2.413) Procedural (1.973) knowledge (9.9%/8.6%). The questions for FOQA aimed at assessing the learners to Remember (5.043) Conceptual (2.852) knowledge with a proportion of 12.1% as well as Understand (3.728)/Apply (2.413) Procedural (1.973) knowledge. Understand/Create (4.166) Conceptual (8.795) knowledge with a proportion of 17.1% and Evaluate (1.389) were the emphasis on the questions for FODT.

The questions differed from subject to subject in cognitive (33.3% to 62.5%) dimension (Remember to Create) and the knowledge (37.5% to 66.7%) forms (Factual to Metacognitive). The overall statistics suggests that the lecturers’ questions assessed more the ability of the students to Understand (4.791) Conceptual (4.168) knowledge, a proportion of 13.2% as well as Remember (3.217) Procedural (0.581) knowledge corresponding to (8.0%). Remembering (recognizing and recalling) is the retrieving of relevant knowledge from long-term memory. Remembering is essential for meaningful learning and problem-solving, but, however, results to rote learning. Rote learning requires students to remember what they learned. All other cognitive category results in meaningful learning (transfer), which requires students to remember but also make sense of what they have learned (Krathwohl 2002). Although some of the subjects assessment tool indicated that higher cognitive than “Understand” were assessed, the overall statistics indicated that the assessment tools did not go beyond “Understand.” RBT provides a framework for going beyond factual knowledge and comprehension to include academic skills like application, analysis, evaluation, and creation (Nusche 2008).

No learning outcomes or the assessments were formulated for metacognitive knowledge. Metacognitive knowledge is difficult to measure via paper and pencil tests. It is best done through classroom discussion, portfolios, reflective diaries, or examination of individual student work (McMahon 2006). Metacognitive knowledge is the knowledge of cognition in general as well as awareness and knowledge of one's own thinking (Anderson 2005; Pickard 2007). It includes strategic knowledge, task knowledge, and self-knowledge. Marzano and others (2001) suggested a way in which students can be helped to develop their metacognitive knowledge; asking students to log the amount of effort they make in completing assignments and studying for tests. This will enable them to reflect on how much effort they have made, which may result in awareness of less than optimum achievement as a result of failure to make the necessary effort in their study.

Cognitive weighted score in relation to the knowledge and cognitive dimensions

Table 6 summarizes the utilities (part-worth) scores for the cognitive weighted scores for each of the nine subjects in terms of cognitive process and knowledge dimension. The most considered cognitive/knowledge combination in setting and allocating marks to the questions for FOCF is Analyze (0.677)/Apply (0.405) Conceptual (1.149) knowledge. This means that more weight (2.8 score) was allocated to questions assessing the ability of learners to Analyze Conceptual knowledge. For FOCS, the emphasis was more on Understand/Evaluate (1.041) Procedural (1.735) knowledge (3.8 score) followed by Analyze Conceptual knowledge. For FOCH, the lecturer allocated more weight to questions that assessed learners’ ability to Remember (2.276) Conceptual (1.441) knowledge (4.9 cognitive score) followed by Understand (1.841) Factual (0.938) knowledge (4.0 cognitive score). Allocating high cognitive weighting to questions assessing remembering concepts will encourage rote learning rather than deep learning. The most important cognitive and knowledge assessed based on cognitive score for FOPR was their ability to Understand (4.429) Conceptual (2.694) knowledge. This suggests that 8.2 cognitive score was allocated to questions assessing learners’ ability to Understand Conceptual knowledge. For FOPG, the most cognitive score was allocated to questions assessing the ability of learners to Understand (4.694) Factual (2.156) knowledge. Hence, 8.1 cognitive score was awarded to questions assessing Understand Factual knowledge. The subject FOTC cognitive score was more on questions assessing the learners’ ability to Remember (4.995) Conceptual (2.481) knowledge with a cognitive score of 8.6. The subject FOCO allocated more cognitive score to questions assessing the ability of learners to Understand (2.575) Conceptual (1.610) knowledge translating to a cognitive score of 5.5. The lecturer for FOQA gave higher cognitive score to questions assessing Understand (1.490) Conceptual (0.847) knowledge followed by Remember (0.440) Procedural (0.210) knowledge with a cognitive score of 3.1 and 1.4, respectively. Create (1.391)/Understand (1.141) Conceptual (1.964) knowledge received higher cognitive score 4.2 and 3.9, respectively, on the questions for FODT.

Based on estimated importance value (Table 6), emphasis placed on the cognitive (42.9% to 63.5%) dimension (Remember to Create) and the knowledge (37.0% to 57.1%) forms (Factual to Metacognitive) in allocating marks differed from subject to subject. However, overall statistics indicate that more emphasis was placed on the cognition (55.1%) compared to knowledge (44.9%). The overall statistics suggests that the lecturers allocated more cognitive score to questions assessing the ability of the students to Understand (1.781)/Remember (0.787) Conceptual (1.416) knowledge, with cognitive score of 4.3 and 3.3, respectively.

Alignment of learning outcomes with assessment

A good teaching environment is created when teaching and assessment practices are aligned to the aims of the teaching and all aspects of teaching and assessment tuned to support high-level learning (Biggs ND). Such system is exemplified in problem-based learning (PBL), the aim of which is to produce graduates who can solve professional problems. The main teaching method is to get the students to solve professional problems; the assessment is judging how well they have solved those (Biggs ND). The learning outcomes for subject FOCF were for learners to apply procedural and evaluate conceptual knowledge (Table 4). The assessment was expected to mirror this outcome and students assessed on how well this was achieved. However, the learners were assessed for ability to analyze, remember/understand/evaluate conceptual knowledge (Table 5) rather than assessing the learners application of procedural knowledge. Hence, the learning outcomes and the assessment did not align. FOPR, FOPG, FOTC, and FOCO all intended learners to understand either conceptual or procedural knowledge (Table 4). The assessment was based on remembering conceptual or factual knowledge. The students were assessed for understanding in some subjects but for factual (Table 5) rather than for conceptual or procedural knowledge stated in the learning outcomes. This form of misalignment is clearly illustrated in Table 2 for FOPG. Majority (33.3%) of the learning outcomes was the ability of students to remember procedural knowledge, but this outcome was not assessed as no questions were allocated for it. Furthermore, questions were set to assess ability to analyze factual and conceptual knowledge, but no learning outcome was formulated for that. If no learning outcome was formulated for this, it means that no learning activity was set to enable students analyze the facts and concepts. The result will be students’ failure particularly for slow learners. FOQA and FODT require students to apply either procedural or conceptual knowledge. However, majority of the assessment was based on remembering/understanding conceptual/procedural knowledge. In the case of FODT, higher order cognition, Evaluate, was required, whereas this was not indicated in the learning outcome. In majority (55.6%) of the subjects (FOCH, FOTC, FOCO, FOQA, and FODT), the learning outcomes were completely not aligned.

The overall statistics indicate that the learning outcomes were mainly requiring students to understand procedures and apply concepts. Two of the most important educational goals are to promote retention and transfer of knowledge, which when it occurs results in meaningful learning (Mayer 2002). Retention is the ability to remember material at some later time in similar way it was presented during instruction. Transfer is the ability to use what was learned to solve new problems, answer new questions, or facilitate learning new subject matter (Mayer and Wittrock 1996). Retention therefore requires that students remember what they have learned, whereas transfer requires not only remembering but also to make sense of and be able to use what was learned (Bransford and others 1999). In other words, retention focuses on the past; transfer emphasizes the future (Mayer 2002). At this stage, a learner is truly educated and can use what he or she has learned previously to learn new things and to solve a variety of academic and nonacademic problems. Educational objectives for promoting retention (remembering) are easy to construct, more difficulty is encountered in formulating, teaching, and assessing objectives aimed at promoting transfer (Baxter and others 1996). When the goal of instruction is to promote retention, the most important cognitive process is Remember, but when the goal is to promote transfer, the focus shifts to the other five cognitive process categories, Understand through Create. Hence, the learning outcomes of the nine subjects overall were aimed at promoting knowledge transfer as they indicated higher order thinking through the learning. However, the assessments were mainly on understanding concepts and remembering procedural knowledge, demonstrating expectations for students to perform at lower cognitive level. This is a misalignment that may impact negatively on the students’ performance. It is known that information obtained during the assessment process is influenced by what has preceded it during the instructional process as both processes are aligned with the stated learning outcomes. If the three components are not well aligned, the assessment result will lack validity (Airasian and Miranda 2002). Most approaches to teaching in FST can be aligned more effectively than they are already by consciously employing RBT in the formulation of learning outcomes, teaching methods, and assessment methods. In aligned teaching, the assessment reinforces learning (Biggs ND). Verbs incorporated in learning outcomes act as markers throughout the teaching and learning activities. The same verbs need to be embedded in the teaching/learning activities and in the assessment as they keep us on track (Briggs ND). Hence, aligned teaching and assessment is important irrespective of the course level. Most lecturers think that because a subject is at the first level, the cognition required for the students should only be to remember facts, concepts, and procedures. Whatever, the learning outcome for whatever level, the aim of the learning exercise is to move students from retention to transfer of knowledge according to their level. If this transfer is not achieved early, the students may not be able to utilize their earlier knowledge in the previous level to the next level, let alone applying their knowledge in real-world situation. FST education is an essential discipline for global food security (Jideani and Jideani 2010); hence, methods enabling students to move from retention to transfer of knowledge should be promoted.

Conclusion

In general, the learning outcomes for the subjects emphasized more (52.9% to 72.9%) on the cognitive dimension (Remember to Create) than on forms of knowledge (Factual to Metacognitive). The assessment questions differed from subject to subject on the emphasis placed on the cognitive (33.3% to 62.5%) dimension (Remember to Create) and the knowledge (37.5% to 66.7%) forms (Factual to Metacognitive). In general, the learning outcomes were formulated to enable learners’ Understand Procedural and Apply Conceptual knowledge. Hence, the lecturers’ expected students’ to move beyond mere recall and recognition of knowledge to higher order cognitive knowledge (apply, analyze, evaluate, and create). However, the assessment examined students on their ability to Remember Procedural knowledge resulting in a misaligned teaching and learning exercise. RBT can be an effective tool for FST educators to assess alignment of learning outcomes, assessment strategies, and learning activities. This would be of particular use as FST lecturers and instructors strive to focus on increasingly more complex cognitive processes, particularly Analyze, Evaluate, and Create and to move beyond the three traditional knowledge types (factual, conceptual, and procedural) to metacognitive knowledge.

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