Assessment and Learning in the Virtual World: Tasks, Taxonomies and Teaching for Real


  • Michael Vallance Future University Hakodate
  • Stewart M. Martin University of Hull



virtual, Bloom, taxonomy, Japan, UK


Many educational institutions make use of assessment schemes based on an ordered hierarchy of cognitive activity, where the judgments of educators on the learning progress of students are expressed using marks or grades. These have high face-validity because they appear to represent intuitively sound descriptions of learning development. The language found in many such assessment structures and their protocols reflects the hierarchy within a revised Bloom's Taxonomy where, in the cognitive domain, evaluation and synthesis is regarded as superior to analysis or application, which are themselves rewarded above memory or understanding. Virtual worlds provide an opportunity to explore new educational contexts for analyzing and measuring cognitive processes that support learning. The present research used the Second Life virtual world as a medium for remotely located students to communicate in the collaborative construction and programming of robots. Iterative tasks were used to explore several neo-Bloomian cognitive processes and knowledge dimensions. Analysis of 60 hours of video from classroom activity, transcribed data and in-world interaction suggests that the hierarchy of descriptors and associated ratings that are used within assessment schemes based on neo-Bloomian taxonomies may not accurately correspond to the 'higher order' cognitive ability development of students.

Author Biographies

Michael Vallance, Future University Hakodate

Michael Vallance is a Professor in the Department of Media Architecture at Future University Hakodate (FUN), Japan. He has a Doctorate in Education from Durham University and a Masters Degree in Computer Assisted Learning from Stirling University, UK. He has been involved in educational technology design, implementation, research and consultancy for over fifteen years, working closely with Higher Education Institutes, schools and media companies in UK, Singapore, Malaysia and Japan. Website is http://www.mvallance.netWebsite

Stewart M. Martin, University of Hull

Stewart M. Martin is Senior Lecturer in Education at the University of Hull, UK. His current research involves the development of immersive virtual environments for the exploration of identity, culture and citizenship. His other research examines the use of digital technology in education, where he has worked with schools and higher education institutions to innovate in this field for over forty years in the UK, Europe, China and Japan. Website is






Research Papers