I previously posted about the UK driving theory test and why I think that memorising practise questions is an over-rated form of revision. Since then they have updated their test:
The reason behind the move is to stop candidates from simply memorising theory test questions and answers and learning by rote. – Driving Standards Agency
My point was that actually learning the rules of the highway code is substantially less effort than memorising close to a thousand practise questions, but this is a good opportunity to talk about a study skills VIP: Benjamin Bloom.
In the 1950s, Benjamin Bloom created a scale to measure different stages of learning. This is called ‘Bloom’s Taxonomy’.
You will sometimes see this mentioned in the syllabus for an exam, so that you know what depth of knowledge is required on each topic. For our purposes we can simplify this scale to three basic levels:
They changed the driving test to ensure that level one learning is not enough to get a pass. The question is, how do you move from one step on the scale to the next? In the case of moving from remembering to understanding, the answer is ‘why?’.
From remembering to understanding
Q: What should you do if you see a big box of bananas fall off a lorry and land on a lane of the motorway?
A: Stop at the next emergency telephone and notify the police.
Based on the UK Highway code (Breakdowns and incidents, rule 280)
Let’s say that you have memorised the answer. Great. Now ask why. Why not move the box of bananas out of the road yourself? Stage two means understanding that, because traffic moves very fast on a motorway, running out into the middle of it could get you killed.
Unfortunately this doesn’t work for dry facts such as the stopping distance for a car. With this kind of information you develop understanding by comparing or restating the information.
From understanding to application
Bring back the practise questions! Once you understand the rules or principles involved, practise questions are an ideal opportunity to apply your understanding to different situations.
Crucially, this stage isn’t about memorising the answers to practise questions, but about using them to develop your ability to apply knowledge. Once you reach this level, you can use your knowledge of an underlying principle to answer any questions that are based on it.