Teaching Thinking Through Synthesis
According to Bloom’s Taxonomy Synthesis refers to the ability to put parts together to form a new whole. This may involve the production of a unique communication (theme or speech), a plan of operations (research proposal), or a set of abstract relations (scheme for classifying information). Learning outcomes in this area stress creative behaviors, with major emphasis on the formulation of new patterns and structures.
According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, one definition of synthesis can be:
a combination of thesis and antithesis into a higher stage of truth
What do these definitions mean for us in the training department? How can we teach thinking through synthesis?
Here are a few ideas:
- In relation to Bloom’s definition – ask your learners to read a case study, whitepaper or even an article on a topic and then distill it down to (options:) the most important idea, the most critical sentence, a sentence of their own making, three key words. If you are working with a group of trainees, give each of these assignments to different individuals or small-groups and then compare and contrast their responses. This process requires people to truly think about the content and how to express that content in a way that is easy to remember and agreed upon by all.
- In relation to Merriam Webster’s definition – have learners read two opposing articles, whitepapers, etc. and then come up with a new, balanced viewpoint or stance. Rarely are ideas completely opposed, so working with the ideas to identify their common ground is very useful in having a well-rounded understanding of a topic.