SOLO and Theory of Effective Learning Part 1

Information Processing and Learning

Research indicates that effective learning takes place when the individual actively processes the information taken in through the various senses:

The average learners for not perform according to expectation mainly due to inadequate processing of the sensory information through the memory process. Alutu (2006)

Therefore, if this is the case, teachers need to understand information processing and endeavour to provide opportunities to improve the quality of processing in order to promote higher attainment:

Constructivist-oriented instruction helped low achievers develop more extended  and connected cognitive structures than traditional teaching. Wu and Tsai (2005)

What Teachers Can Do

There are many factors which may influence depth of learning including environment, attitude and epistemological beliefs.Teachers can have an impact on some of these factors, through teaching methods  and dealing with those environmental factors within their control. Bischoff and Anderson (2001) highlighted the importance of providing students with tasks which actively involve them:

Neuronal networks are actively constructed as neuronal connections are made, or reorganised, to form new knowledge representations. These representations and larger organising frameworks…are activated when stimulated through learning experiences that promote active involvement by the learner.

However, setting tasks which involve the students is only part of what a teacher can do to enourage learning. How information is presented to the students can be key to whether the student is involved. In ‘The Art of Changing the Brain’, Zull (2002) warns about the use of explanation – a frequently used piece of teacher talk:

Explanation transfers the power from the learner to the teacher. But neuroscience tells us that the positive emotions in learning are generated in the parts of the brain that are used most heavily when students develop their own ideas.

From my experiments with SOLO taxonomy and, in particular, the use of hexagons (as well as the fantastic blogs of @Learningspy, @Totallywired77 and @lisajaneashes ), this is where SOLO has its strength. As the hexagons allow students to explore and create their own links, they are active in creating their own ideas and interpretations of the material.

Students’ understanding of learning is key to how they learn and the quality of that learning, and this is often an aspect of education which is overlooked by schools. If a student believes that learning is quick and easy, their learning is likely to be more shallow than a student who believes that learning is complex and takes time. Dweck’s (2006) ‘growth mindset’:

The belief that your basic qualities are things that you can cultivate through your efforts.

– therefore, is something that educators need to try to develop in their students, if they are to achieve their full potential.


Alutu, A. N. (2006). The Guidance Role of the Instructor in the Teaching and Learning Process. Journal of Instructional Psychology, Vol. 33, No. 1, pp. 44-49.

Bischoff, P.J. and Anderson, O.R. (2001). Development of Knowledge Frameworks and Higher Order Cognitive Operations Among Secondary School Students Who Studied a Unit on Ecology. Journal of Biological Education, 35 (2), pp.81-88.

Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Random House.

Wu, Y-T. and Tsai, C-C. (2005). Effect of Constructivist Oriented Instruction on Elementary School Students’ Cognitive Structures. Journal of Biological Education, 39 (3), pp.113-119.

Zull, J. (2002). The Art of Changing the Brain: Enriching the Practice of Teaching by Exploring the Biology of Learning. USA: Stylus Publishing.

3 responses to “SOLO and Theory of Effective Learning Part 1

  1. Thank you a bunch for sharing this with all people you really know what you are speaking about! Bookmarked. Please also discuss with my website =). We could have a link exchange contract between us

  2. Thanks, I’m glad you found it useful.

  3. Pingback: Summary of SOLO Posts | Data Fiend

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