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Teaching Architects And Engineers: Up And Down The Taxonomy

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Beneficial Case Studies in AEC Education

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1126.1 - 14.1126.10



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Paper Authors

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Edmond Saliklis California Polytechnic State University

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Robert Arens California Polytechnic State University

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Joseph Hanus United States Military Academy

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract



Engineering faculty and Architecture faculty both address student learning through the prism of Bloom’s taxonomy of the cognitive domain, but do so in diametrically opposite manners. Engineering faculty tend to assess student learning starting at the lowest taxonomy level, Acquisition of Knowledge, and progress in their curriculum and courses to the higher levels of Synthesis and Evaluation. Compare this to a studio environment in an undergraduate Architecture curriculum, where the faculty often begin with the highest levels, such as Evaluation in applying value judgments about the adequacy of the design and Synthesis, by putting disparate pieces of information together, and Analysis in solving large complex problems by reducing them to smaller pieces. Thus, the paper’s hypothesis is that Engineering faculty typically move up Bloom’s taxonomy of the cognitive domain, whereas Architecture faculty typically move down the taxonomy.

The implications of this hypothesis are interesting from both a pedagogical and practical point of view. Can we learn from each other and benefit from each other’s experience? Can we aid the students who seek larger global understanding, yet are often discouraged during their preliminary acquisition of fundamental factual knowledge?

This paper explores this thesis by studying the literature surrounding the Cognitive Domain in both Civil Engineering and Architecture, and gives some suggestions for providing engineering students with more opportunities to explore higher levels on Bloom’s taxonomy in the undergraduate curriculum.


The authors have acted as guest jurors in each other’s courses when students have made public presentations of the work, otherwise known as the critique (or final crit). A striking revelation was made to the engineer that in an architecture critique, many of the issues brought up by jurors and by the student peers appeared to touch on relatively high level concepts in Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning. The taxonomies are a language that is proposed to describe the progressive development of an individual’s cognitive understanding of material. Thus, this paper began as an exploration of the thesis that Architecture faculty are comfortable moving up and down the continuum of Bloom’s Taxonomy, whereas Civil Engineering faculty traditionally move up from the lowest levels of the taxonomy and they are challenged to reach the higher levels with their students. The purpose of this paper is to review the literature that might support this thesis, and to recommend how Civil Engineering faculty might learn to move up and down the taxonomy from their Architectural peers.

Saliklis, E., & Arens, R., & Hanus, J. (2009, June), Teaching Architects And Engineers: Up And Down The Taxonomy Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4498

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