Understanding Psycho-motor domain

“Individual children frequently have capacities and skills which do not find adequate recognition in the school environment. Development and flourishing of these skills and capacities would not only enhance the individual’s life but also enrich the life of the community.” NCF 2005, Position paper on Aims of Education.

Education aims at the development of 3 Hs-Head, Heart and Hand. It is therefore important to know whether the schools as ‘Educational Institutions’ help students to become complete human beings by proper development of these 3 Hs. Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation envisaged is meant for schools to assess the students in totality as this ‘system of school-based evaluation covers all aspects of student development’. This in turn will check the effectiveness of teaching learning processes in the schools. Moreover evaluation is considered as an instrument to provide inputs to the learner for optimum development. Hence it is imperative that we equip ourselves with the mechanism and techniques of such a comprehensive evaluation. In 1956 Benjamin S. Bloom and others have identified three domains of human learning. According to Bloom human learning is considered to take place at three levels called Cognitive, Affective and Psychomotor domains. Cognitive refers to the intellectual domain and psychomotor domain deals with the manual or physical skills, whereas the affective domain deals with the emotional aspects of human learning.

In today’s world maximum emphasis is given to the cognitive domain. Bloom proposes Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation as a part of taxonomy in the cognitive domain. We specify the objectives of our lessons in terms of this taxonomy at the planning stage. While setting the question paper (for evaluation) we include questions to test the achievement of objectives in the cognitive domain. Thus we have different types of questions to test the knowledge, comprehension and application. The introduction of questions on H.O.T.S. (Higher Order Thinking Skills) takes care of evaluation in the highest levels of cognitive domain. Testing in the cognitive domain has been found to be comparatively easier and we have been doing the same for many years through our Formal Evaluation in schools and at the Board’s level. Moreover we tend to give more importance to the cognitive aspect leaving aside the affective and psychomotor aspects of human learning .A student who secures very good marks in the Board examination is our favorite, even if he/she lacks many skills and values.

knowing the importance of emotional aspects, some times we also test the attitude, aptitude etc at various stages of learning. Over the years various mechanisms and techniques have been evolved for testing the area of affective domain with the help of tools like attitude scales, aptitude testing etc. However we have to admit that psychomotor domain is totally neglected for any such methodical assessment. In general the psychomotor domain is considered to address skill development relating to manual tasks and physical movement. This domain includes physical movement, coordination, and use of the motor skill areas. However we should know that, it also covers modern day business and social skills such as communication skills and operation of IT equipment. Examples of such other skills are telephone and keyboard skills or public speaking. If our schools do not take care of such skill development, then we will not be able to create quality human resource in our country. For the sake of better instruction and objective assessment in the psychomotor domain one must know the taxonomy of educational objectives in this domain. Though Bloom has tried to categorize affective domain, little is said about psychomotor domain. Harrow, Simpson and Dave are the researchers who had given detailed taxonomy in psycho motor domain. Dave’s psychomotor domain is probably the most commonly referenced and used psychomotor domain interpretation

Dave’s taxonomy in this domain is as under.

  1. Imitation: This is the first stage of learning in this domain where a learner tries to imitate by observation. Here performance may be of very low quality. For example copying an art is a type of imitation.
  2. Manipulation: Here the learner shows some skills as per instruction or reading some instructions and practices the same. Example is creating work on one’s own after taking lessons, or reading about it.
  3. Perfection/Precision: The learner then modifies his action to correct his /her mistakes to be perfect. Though refined, few errors are apparent. Example is working and reworking on something to make it right.
  4. Articulation: After practice and proper co-ordination stability in action is achieved. After this stage there is consistency.
  5. Naturalization: This is the highest level where in the skill has become part of natural behaviour. He may not be conscious about his actions and performance is of very high standard. e.g. after learning to drive a vehicle we naturally change gears or feer the vehicle. The knowledge of the taxonomy in the psychomotor domain helps us in making proper lesson plans.

As teachers we need to understand that a child starts learning skills with imitation. Hence opportunities for students to observe good quality work should be made available. this we can always make use of audio visual aids for showing the performance of an expert in the field. We can also invite a good public speaker in the school to enhance public speaking skills or allow the children to participate in different competitions for exposure in the respective fields. We as teachers should demonstrate high quality performance in our field as children consider us as role models. Teacher’s role becomes much more important in the second stage of manipulation, where right inputs must be given in the form of instructions. More over a teacher should give positive feedback to correct the mistakes to achieve perfection. The formative evaluation helps us to give the right feedback at the right time. For attaining the last two stages proper guidance and motivation may be provided. If due care is taken in the earlier stages, the learner will definitely reach the stage of Naturalization.

The categories proposed by Simpson will also help us to understand other aspects of this important domain. According to Simpson a learner uses sensor cues to guide motor activity. For example a person estimates where a ball will land after it is thrown and then moving to the correct location to catch a ball. It is important that a learner must have the right ‘Set’ for learning .By Set Simpson means the readiness to act. It includes mental, physical and emotional sets. These three sets are dispositions that predetermine a person’s responses to different situations. This is closely related to the affective domain. Therefore it is important for a teacher to create interest in the activity for effective learning. In the early stages in learning a complex skill, people use imitation and trial and error. Adequacy of performance is achieved by practicing. Then learned responses become habitual and movement can be performed with some confidence and proficiency. Proficiency is indicated by a quick accurate and highly co-ordinated performance requiring a minimum of energy. In this stage a person performs without hesitation. In the last stage skills are well developed and the individual can modify movement patterns to fit special requirements. Finally the individual creates new movement patterns to fit a particular situation or specific problem. This is the stage which is referred by Dave as Naturalization. During this stage, learning outcomes emphasize creativity, based upon highly developed skills.

Harrow is another renowned researcher who has studied the psychomotor domain in detail. According to Harrow the basis of psychomotor learning is reflex movements. These reactions are not learned and are inborn in any individual. Apart from this there are some basic movements like walking, grasping etc. It is important that a child correctly respond to stimuli such as visual auditory, kinesthetic or tactile. Hence children should be given opportunities to develop these skills. Stamina must be developed for further advancement, such as strength and agility .Practice will help the person to have skilled movements as one would find in sports or acting. In the last stage of ‘non discursive communication’ the person expresses and conveys feeling and meaning though movement and actions. From the above discussions we understand that psychomotor domain does not function in isolation. For development of various skills, we also need to give importance to affective and cognitive aspects of a child’s learning. Therefore we need to adopt proper strategies for creating learning situations and for formative and summative evaluation in the psychomotor domain. As with any learning activity, assessment begins with the learning objectives. Objectives in this domain are created under the same criteria as objectives in the other domains. While writing the objectives, we express the same in behavioral terms.

Because of wide usage, we may stick to Dave’s taxonomy of educational objectives. Key words connected to each category are as given under. The objectives should be written using these key words for clarity in evaluation

1) Imitation: copy, follow, replicate, repeat, adhere, observe, identify, mimic, and try , re enact, and imitate.

2) Manipulation: re creates, build, perform, execute and implement

3) Precision: demonstrate, complete, show, perfect, calibrate, control, and practice

4) Articulation: construct, solve, combine, coordinate, integrate, adapt, and develop, formulate, modify, master, improve and teach

5) Naturalization: design, specify, manage, invent, and project-manage Using these key words ,objectives may be written in behavioral terms. E. g, student demonstrates effective technique while performing 20 ‘Surya Namaskar’ within 10 minutes. It is important that we understand the stage and accordingly the objectives are set .The above objective is meant for the stage of Precision.

For objective assessment, it is better to create a checklist so that instructor assesses the mastery of the student in meeting these objectives. Based on this a rating scale can be prepared like the one given below: 5——- Excellent: Performs the Surya Namaskar flawlessly. Does not need to check Position, does not pause. Completes 20 Surya Namaskar without Pausing within the 10 minutes 4 ——- Very good: Performs the Surya Namaskar but is somewhat unsteady but completes in 10 minutes 3 —— Good : Performs the Surya Namaskar but is somewhat unsteady. May pause one or more times. Takes more than 10 minutes to Complete 20 Surya Namaskars 2——Above average: Performs the Surya Namaskar but is very unsteady, may pause one or more times and or takes more than 10 minutes 1——Needs to improve: Cannot complete Surya Namaskars correctly. October-December, 2009 19 It is very important that we need to set clear cut objectives as per the stage of learning for assessment in the psychomotor domain as in any other domain. This will help us in proper planning of the lessons and objective assessment of various skills. More over these assessments (even summative at the end of a session) should be viewed as formative in nature as the purpose of evaluation must be to improve the performance. At the same time, care should be taken while setting objectives in this domain as it is not possible for all children to have same physical maturity or ability to perform a task for various reasons. It is better to set individual goals or objectives as far as possible and the performance should be viewed against achievement of individual goals. Due care should be taken while dealing with differently abled children.

Record keeping is another important aspect of any such objective evaluation. Teachers should keep the records regularly and the same should be used for grading. It is also important to prepare descriptive indicators for grading and involve all teachers as these measures reduce any subjectivity in evaluation. The Teachers’ Manual published by the Board will be of immense use for such an objective assessment. In conclusion we need to understand that there is lot of planning and efforts required for any Comprehensive Evaluation. Teachers should be given opportunity to learn from their peers and should be given right kind of training for the success of CCE. In the coming times when schools are going to be more and more ‘Independent’ in Evaluation, the enhancement of core competencies of teachers will decide the success of evaluation at the school level.

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