The hierarchical approach, as pictured in figures 4.1 - 4.4 in the book, is used to analyze the individual steps in the analysis of goals involving intellectual or psychomotor skills. At this point you want to focus on one goal step at a time, starting with the first one. Look at each goal step and think about what skills and knowledge a learner must possess to be able to perform that step. Gagn� suggests beginning with the question, "What must the student already know so that, with a minimum amount of instruction, this task can be learned?" The answer will likely be one or more subordinate skills. These subordinate skills are what the learners will need to know to be able to perform that step. It may be best at first to write them down in bulleted or outline form, much like you did when you were first identifying your original goal steps.
After you have identified the initial subordinate skills for a step, you should then examine each of those subordinate skills and determine if there are any additional skills or knowledge that the learners must possess in order to learn those skills. This will result in the identification of additional subordinate skills. This process should continue until you reach the very basic level of performance, such as "identifying nouns and verbs". This does not mean that you will have to teach these skills to the learners. Eventually you will determine which of these skills should be classified as Entry Behaviors and not be taught. But for right now, you should include all the relevant subordinate skills. After you have finished analyzing your first goal step, continue on this way, analyzing each succeeding goal step to identify subordinate skills, and then analyzing those subordinate skills to identify more subordinate skills. In this way you will be building a hierarchy of skills that are required to attain each main goal step.
If you remember Gagn�'s five categories of learning from the last lesson, intellectual skills are skills that require the learner to perform some unique cognitive activity. Gagn� divides Intellectual Skills into the following subcategories, depending on the complexity of the mental processing involved. Here's a listing of those categories once again:
• Discrimination - The ability to distinguish one feature of an object from another based on one or more physical dimensions. Discrimination is a very low-level skill. It does not include the ability to name the class of objects; if the learners can do that, they have acquired a concept. Examples of discrimination include:
o Hearing a difference between two notes played on the piano.
o Distinguishing among different colors of socks in a drawer by pulling out a matched pair.
o Distinguishing between the symbols < and >.
• Concrete Concepts - Concrete concept learning involves learning to identify a stimulus as a member of a class having some characteristic in common. Examples of concrete concepts include:
o Identifying the middle of a group of objects.
o Arranging a group of different sized straws from largest to smallest.
o Marking all the squares on a paper showing circles, triangles, and squares.
• Defined Concepts - Concepts that cannot be identified by pointing them out and must be defined. Examples of defined concepts include:
• Rules - Rules make it possible for us to do something, using symbols, and for us to respond to a class of things with a class of performances. Examples of rules include:
o Applying Ohm's law, E = I x R (not just stating it).
o Showing that force equals mass times acceleration.
o Creating a sentence such as, "The boy went to the store."
• Higher-order Rules - Involves applying complex combinations of simpler rules in order to solve problems, perform tasks, or explain, describe, and predict phenomena or events. Examples of higher-order rules include:
o Planning a balanced budget, given fixed income and fixed expenses.
o Planning a lesson plan, given certain class objectives, activities, time, and resource constraints.
This categorization of intellectual skills is a hierarchy, which means that each higher-level skill requires the lower skills as a prerequisite. Because of this, if you are trying to analyze a higher-order skill, the subordinate skills will likely be lower-order intellectual skills. After all, if you look at what higher-order rules are, you see that they are combinations of simpler rules. Since rules are made up of concepts and discriminations, your subordinate skills for a problem-solving activity could fall into any of these sub-categories.
In the process of determining your subordinate skills you may discover that some of the knowledge required to learn a particular goal step is not an intellectual skill but instead simply verbal information. In fact, with any goal you are likely to have subordinate skills that represent several of Gagn�'s domains of learning, even if your original goal falls only into one domain. If it is relevant to achieving a particular goal step then you should include it in your analysis.
When you think you have identified all of the relevant subordinate skills (subskills) for each goal step, you will want to add these to your instructional analysis diagram. Each subordinate skill should be represented by its own box, and should be connected to the goal step it supports. In addition, it should state the skill that the learner must be able to do at that step. Also, notice that the arrows on the lines connecting each subordinate skill box to the steps and skills above it points up from the subordinate skill towards the higher skills. In a hierarchical analysis, it is traditional to place superordinate skills above the skills upon which they are dependant in order for the reader to automatically recognize the implied learning relationship of the subskills. This means that the lower-order skills will end up at the bottom. When working with these skills, it may be useful to work your way up from the bottom, starting with very basic or foundational skills and then working your way up to the skills most closely connected to the goal step they support.
If your intellectual or psychomotor goal has subordinate skills that involve verbal information, you can still include it in your hierarchical flowchart, even though that verbal information is not part of the intellectual hierarchy. It is suggested that these skills be connected to the main hierarchical analysis using a connector like this:
If your goal falls in the domain of verbal information there will probably not be any specific sequence inherent in the information. In other words, it may not involve going from one step to the next. With verbal information you are not identifying a sequence of steps, but mainly you are just identifying the information that is needed to achieve your goal. In this case a cluster analysis is generally used. This involves identifying and grouping major categories of information that are implied by the goal, and then deciding how the information can be clustered together best.
Diagramming a cluster analysis can be achieved by using the hierarchical technique with the goal at the top and each major cluster as a subskill. Because your information is in clusters, and there is no explicit sequence, it is not considered a hierarchy.
Combination approach for attitudinal goals
As you learned in the last lesson, attitudinal goals also require a slightly different approach. It generally involves asking the following two questions:
1. What must learners do when exhibiting this attitude?
2. Why should they exhibit this attitude?
First you should identify the behavior that you will look for to determine if the attitude is being demonstrated. What would people be doing if they were demonstrating that they were following the desired attitude? This will most likely be an intellectual skill or a motor skill. From there you should determine the goal steps and the accompanying subordinate skills just like you do for any other intellectual or psychomotor goal. You will then end up with a hierarchical analysis of skills that represent what learners will be doing if they choose to exhibit the desired attitude.
The second part involves explaining to a learner "why" they should make the choice to exhibit that attitude. The answer to this usually involves verbal information. For an attitudinal goal, it's not enough that you teach a learner how to do it; they have to choose to do it, and this is the information that will assist them in making that choice. The verbal information can be arranged in its own separate cluster analysis, or integrated into the overall hierarchical analysis.
On an instructional analysis flowchart, attitudinal goals are represented by attaching the attitudinal box to the intellectual or psychomotor skill that learners will choose to demonstrate. This is done using an "A" connector. From there you then list the necessary steps and skills necessary to achieve the desired skill. For the supporting verbal information (the "why"), you can either provide a separate cluster analysis, or integrate it into the hierarchical analysis by attaching each verbal "skill" in a box beside the psychomotor or intellectual skill that it supports. This is done using the triangular "V" connectors described earlier.
At the bottom of page 67, Dick and Carey give an example of what a diagram of an attitudinal goal might look like.
The techniques described in the preceding sections should allow you to ascertain and arrange the subordinate skills for each category of goal. In the end, it is important to review your analysis several times to make sure you have properly identified all of the subordinate skills required for students to master your main instructional goal. Also, be on the lookout for skills that could be classified as "nice to know", but are not necessarily required for learners to learn the goal. It may be best to leave them out of the analysis.