Marzano’s New Taxonomy is made up of three systems and the Knowledge Domain, all of which are important for thinking and learning. The three systems are the Self-System, the Metacognitive System, and the Cognitive System.
When faced with the option of starting a new task, the Self-System decides whether to continue the current behavior or engage in the new activity; the Metacognitive System sets goals and keeps track of how well they are being achieved; the Cognitive System processes all the necessary information, and the Knowledge Domain provides the content.
Traditionally, the focus of most instruction has been in the component of knowledge. Students were assumed to need a significant amount of knowledge before they could think seriously about a subject. Unfortunately, in traditional classrooms, instruction rarely moved beyond the accumulation of knowledge, leaving students with a mental file cabinet full of facts, most of which were quickly-forgotten after the final test.
Knowledge is a critical factor in thinking. Without sufficient information about the subject being learned, the other systems have very little to work with and are unable to engineer the learning process successfully. A high-powered automobile with all the latest technological features still needs some kind of fuel to make it fill its purpose. Knowledge is the fuel that powers the thinking process. Marzano identifies three categories of knowledge: information, mental procedures, and physical procedures. Simply put, information is the “what” of knowledge and procedures are the “how-to.”
Information consists of organizing ideas, such as principles, generalizations, and details, such as vocabulary terms and facts. Principles and generalizations storie more information with less effort by placing concepts into categories.
Mental procedures can range from complex processes, such as writing a term paper to simpler tasks such as tactics, algorithms, and single rules. Tactics, like reading a map, consist of a set of activities which do not need to be performed in any particular order. Algorithms, like computing long division, follow a strict order which does not vary by situation. Single rules, such as those covering capitalization, are applied individually to specific instances.
The degree to which physical procedures figure into learning varies greatly by subject area. The physical requirements necessary for reading may consist of no more than left-to-right eye movement and the minimal coordination needed to turn a page. Conversely, physical and vocational education requires extensive and sophisticated physical processes, such as playing tennis or building a piece of furniture. Contributing factors to effective physical processing include strength, balance, manual dexterity, and overall speed of movement.
Cognitive System - Four Components
The mental processes in the Cognitive Domain take action from the Knowledge Domain. These processes give people access to the information and procedures in their memory and help them manipulate and use this knowledge. Marzano breaks the Cognitive System down into four components: knowledge retrieval, comprehension, analysis, and knowledge utilization. Each process is composed of all the previous processes
Like the knowledge component of Bloom’s Taxonomy, Knowledge Retrieval involves recalling information from permanent memory. At this level of understanding, students are just recalling facts, sequences, or processes exactly as they were stored.
Comprehension requires identifying what is important to remember and placing that information into appropriate categories. Therefore, the first skill of comprehension, synthesis, requires the identification of the most important components of the concept and the deletion of any that are insignificant or extraneous.
More complex than simple comprehension, the 5 cognitive processes in Analysis are matching, classifying, error analysis, generalizing, and specifying. By engaging in these processes, learners can use what they are learning to create new insights and invent ways of using what was learned in new situations.
The final level of cognitive processes addresses the use of knowledge. Marzano calls these processes Knowledge Utilization, or Using Know
ledge. The processes of using knowledge are essential components of thinking for project-based learning since they include processes used by to accomplish a specific task.
The metacognitive system is the “mission control” of the thinking process and regulates all the other systems. This system sets goals and makes decisions about which information is necessary and which cognitive processes best suit the goal. It then monitors the processes and makes changes as necessary.
Providing students with instruction in cognitive strategies, even with Metacognitive skills, is not always enough to ensure that they will learn. Teachers are often pleasantly surprised to discover that a student has accomplished a task that they considered to be far too difficult. These situations occur because at the root of all learning is the Self-System.
Self System is comprised of the attitudes, beliefs and feelings that determine an individual’s motivation to complete a task. The factors contributing to motivation are: importance, efficacy, and emotions.