Students’ perceptions regarding the usefulness of explicit discussion of the ‘Structure of the Observed Learning Outcomes [SOLO]’

E.S.Prakash*, K.A.Narayan** and K.R.Sethuraman***,
Departments of Physiology*, Medical Education** and Medicine***,
Faculty of Medicine, AIMST University, 08100 Bedong, Kedah, Malaysia.
Correspondence to dresprakash at gmail dot com

Advances in Physiology Education 2010 [Free full text at]

Abstract: One method of grading responses of the descriptive type is using the Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes [SOLO] Taxonomy. The basis of this study is the expectation that if students were oriented to the SOLO taxonomy, it would provide them an opportunity to understand some of the factors that teachers consider while grading descriptive responses, and possibly develop strategies to improve scores. We first sampled the perceptions of 68 second-year undergraduate medical students’ doing the Respiratory System Course regarding the usefulness of explicit discussion of the SOLO taxonomy. Subsequently, in a distinct cohort of 20 second year medical students doing the Central Nervous System course, we sought to determine whether explicit illustration of SOLO taxonomy combined with some advice on better answering descriptive test questions (to an Experimental Group) resulted in better student scores in a Continuous Assessment test, compared to providing advice for better answering test questions but without any reference to SOLO taxonomy (to a Control Group). Students’ ratings of the clarity of the presentation on SOLO taxonomy appear satisfactory to the authors, as is students understanding of our presentation. A majority of participants indicated that knowledge of SOLO taxonomy would help them study and prepare better answers for questions of the descriptive type. Although scores in the Experimental and Control group were comparable, this experience nonetheless provides us with the motivation to orient students to SOLO taxonomy early on in the medical programme and further research factors that affects students’ development of strategies based on knowledge of SOLO taxonomy.

Appendix to SOLO Manuscript_2010_ESP et al