Solo Taxonomy

Solo Taxonomy: Developing Student Thinking

Introduction to the SOLO Taxonomy

"The SOLO taxonomy is a model that describes levels of increasing complexity in students’ thinking and understanding. It was proposed by academics Biggs and Collis (1982) after classifying student’s thinking across a range of ages and a range of subjects. As thinking progresses across the levels, students move from factual, knowledge-based thinking to conceptual and abstract thinking and understanding.

Lynn Erickson’s Structure of knowledge (2002) is often used to illustrate how concepts and knowledge interact to help students form a principal generalization (similar to the “central ideas” in programmes of inquiry in the Primary Years Programme (PYP)). The foundations of being able to form these principal generalizations (or to think conceptually and understand a PYP central idea) are based on acquiring “essential” knowledge that will interact with chosen key and related concepts.

The SOLO taxonomy supports Erickson’s “structure of knowledge” as it starts with students collecting ideas, facts or knowledge before progressing to more sophisticated and demanding levels of thinking where they are required to process the information to make connections, conceptualize and transfer their understanding."


Source: IB PYP Resources

SOLO Taxonomy d

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SOLO Taxonomy's 5 Levels of Understanding

  1. Prestructural: at this level, the learner is missing the point

  2. Unistructural: a response based on a single point.

  3. Multistructural: a response with multiple unrelated points.

  4. Relational: points presented in a logically related answer.

  5. Extended Abstract: demonstrating an abstract and deep understanding through unexpected extension.


Source: Introduction to the SOLO Taxonomy

A Quick Gide to the SOLO Taxonomy

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Source: Tom Barrett's Blog

Solo Taxonomy Poster 1

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Solo Taxonomy Poster 2

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SOLO Taxonomy Explained

Aug 26, 2015 - Run Time: 10:11

Defining the Stages

Nov 11, 2011 - Run Time: 3:08

Sample Solo Workshop 1

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Source: Solo Taxonomy: An introduction by Jack Cassidy "SlideShare"

Solo Examples for Workshop

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Use this sorting exercise during a Solo Introductory Workshop

Sample Solo Workshop 2

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Source: Introducing Solo Taxonomy by Noel Jenkins - "SlideShare"

Sample Solo Workshop 3

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Source: Solo Explained by Susi Yanti - "SlideShare"

Solo PYP Example

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Source: IB PYP Resources

Sample Solo Rubric

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Source: Blogging Rubric SlideShare by Emma Watts

Tools & Strategies to Support Students Using Solo Taxonomy

Google Docs: Differentiated Thinking Tools and Strategies (Public).doc
Differentiated Thinking Tools and Strategies (Public)
Source: Michael Hughes @HughesT0KY0, Seisen International School, Tokyo. Updated March 2019.
Check out this learning story, developed by Michael Hughes and a team of teachers at Seisen International School, which demonstrates how they used the structure of observed learning outcomes (SOLO) taxonomy to design learning progressions to develop students’ conceptual understanding across units of inquiry. At Seisen International School, teachers use the SOLO taxonomy to support students to progress from a shallow to a deeper understanding. The SOLO taxonomy is also used when constructing success criteria for specific tasks.

Solo PYP UOI Gr 5 Rubric

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Source Seisen International SchoolSee other Solo UOI Grade Level Examples using Link

Solo PYP UOI Gr 3 Rubric

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Source Seisen International SchoolSee other Solo UOI Grade Level Examples using Link

SOLO Taxonomy Question Chain Example

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Source: Tom Barrett's Blog

This is an example of a SOLO Taxonomy Question Chain. A series of connected question that explores a subconcept.

  • Follow each row across and you will see each question using the language and verbs associated with the SOLO Taxonomy levels.

Here is some of the context for creating this set of questions:

Curriculum Focus

  • Daily and seasonal changes in our environment affect everyday life ACSSU004

Achievement Standard

  • By the end of Kindergarten they suggest how the environment affects them and other living things.

Sub-concepts to Explore

  • Types of weather + causes, seasons and seasonal weather changes, the impact of weather on human behaviour, clothes that we choose to suit the weather, the impact of weather on animals, environmental patterns.

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