Medical student education: SOLO taxonomy (Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes)


The old didactic method of lecturing in front of passive listeners has changed. There has been a drive to get students more involved in the communication aspects surrounding education in in that process develop a better understanding of the inter-relational aspects of knowledge accumulation.

John Biggs and Kevin Collins describes 5 levels of understanding

  • Prestructural: understanding of the content is minimal or absent
  • Unistructural: there is some understanding of one aspect
  • Multi-structural: There is some understanding of multiple aspects, but the student can not draw the relationship between these aspects
  • Relational: there is some understanding of multiple aspects and the student is able to link these aspects to form a whole
  • Extended abstract; the student understands multiple aspects, understands their inter-relatedness and is able to transfer these concepts to other areas of their learning. The goal is to get final year medical students to SOLO level 5, where they can integrate their knowledge and skills reasonably independently