CAPS has become the buzzword among the stakeholders of the educational ecosystem, and the acronym characterizes the three interrelated domains of learning processes. Learning is not only about reading and memorizing, as was the case with the factory model of education of the early 20th century. It is a holistic process encompassing Cognitive, Affective, and Physical skills. The basic foundation and purpose of CAPS is to module a graduate who could apply the knowledge acquired during school or college days to create innovative feasible solutions to the existing and potential corporate or societal problems. CAPS also gaining importance because the corporate world (recruiters) are interested to hire graduates with relevant knowledge and the right attitude. CAPS applies to all levels of education and all streams of education. Today's multi-disciplinary approach, as prescribed by NEP of 2020, has roots grounded in the philosophy of CAPS which is needed for promoting a continuous learning attitude among all of us.
Continuous learning is essential for everyone as learning is not considered an event but a process. However, the learnings that happen during school or college days are much more critical. One of the prevalent myths among many stakeholders of academic processes is that education is synonymous with mental abilities (knowledge) alone. This is a myth because learning has to focus on the mind, emotions and body. This is why the popular acronym KASH illustrates the idea of Knowledge, Attitude, Skills and Habits. The student (participant) should be groomed to acquire mental abilities, emotional balance, physical abilities, and excellent habits so that (s)he can effectively perform career and life duties.
The concept of wholesome and measurable learning engagement is being advocated by almost all the accreditation agencies such as NAAC, NBA or AACSB in the form of Outcome Based Education (OBE), where the institution and teachers are required to define and achieve: Program Outcomes (POs) and Program Educational Outcomes (PEOs). The attainment of POs and PEOs is measured by the attainment of Learning Outcomes (LOs). The roots of framing and measuring the LOs are found in the learning domains. As a teacher (facilitator), it is the fiduciary duty to see that the student (participant) is exposed to different domains of learning such that LOs are achieved gracefully.
The teachers (facilitators) are required to design the course or module so that the necessary learning happens and the Assurance of Learning (AOL) can be provided to the stakeholders. In designing the course or module, the teacher has to be specific on the skills that are going to be imparted by suitable pedagogical tools. In doing so, the teacher has to specify the targeted domains of learning and learning goals that will be achieved over the delivery. The other important stakeholder, i.e., the student (participant), should also be in a position to understand the domains of learning, the complexity of learning and the assessment tools that will be used to assess the learning while getting involved in academic engagement. To achieve the dissemination of information on the learnings that are going to happen in a course, the essential tool is the 'Course Outline', which encompasses the syllabus (course content) also. The course outline is in a way a ‘Contractual Obligation’ between the teacher (facilitator) and the students (participants). The course outline defines What, When and How the learnings are going to happen along with the related assessment rubrics.
During the academic engagement, the learning would happen among three domains: a) Cognitive; b) Affective; and c) Psychomotor (CAPS), and these domains are related to three aspects of learning, i.e., thinking, emotions and physical or kinaesthetic. The initial research on learning domains was conducted from 1956 to 1972, and three educational researchers have contributed to the three learning domains. Benjamin Bloom (1956) popularised the cognitive domain, David Krathwohl (1964) gave validity to the affective domain, and the psychomotor domain has been popular due to the work of Anita Harrow (1970s). The work of these researchers has been documented as ‘Taxonomies’ of learning domains. While drafting a course outline the teachers (facilitators) are expected to follow these taxonomies.
Even though many scholars have conducted research in the area of learning domains, Dr. Bloom's work is still regarded as the foundation and could be referred to for CAPS. Due to its relevance and popularity, Bloom's original work was revised by David Krathwohl in 2001. In today’s academic world of Outcome Based Education (OBE), Bloom’s taxonomy on learning domains (Bloom’s Taxonomy) has become an essential tool. While designing the course/module, the teacher (facilitator) is expected to use 'Bloom's Verbs’ along with the expected course outcomes. The accreditation bodies would be looking at the success of any academic program based on the attainment of Bloom’s taxonomy as well as course outcomes attainment.
All three learning domains are equally important and must be acquired together. Among these three domains of learning, there are sub-domains (progressive levels) learning, and as the sessions progress, new levels of learning are introduced and the complexity increases. The levels of complexity are six in the case of the cognitive domain; five levels of affective complexity; and seven levels of psychomotor complexity.
Teachers and learners must be well-versed in the architecture of these three domains of learning (CAPS) and the inter-relationship between these three domains. It would be the responsibility of the teacher (facilitator) to design the course outline, pedagogy and evaluation/assessment (rubrics) such that all three domains of learning are embedded in the academic engagement. The teacher should be able to identify as many pedagogical tools as possible to meet the needs of all three learning domains. Along with the various pedagogical tools, assorted assessment tools/instruments are also needed for providing Assurance of Learning (AOL), But before that, a comprehensive understanding of these three domains is required for both teachers (facilitators) and students (participants). The role of the teacher would be fulfilled provided vast literature on the domains of learning, and the requirements of the accreditation agencies are appropriately understood.
Knowledge and application of CAPS would be helpful even in the executive grooming environment. For example, after conducting a preliminary assessment, if the trainer feels that there is a knowledge or skill gap, then job-specific training could be initiated, but if there is an attitude gap or demonstration of not-so-favourable habits happens, then coaching or mentoring may be initiated.
To sum up: Teachers (facilitators) would be required to see that module or course that (s)he is delivering should provide knowledge, attitude and skills in that particular functional area. In other words, the student (participant) should be able to think (cognitive domain), feel (affective domain) and work on (psychomotor domain) that particular concept that is being delivered. If the course material and evaluation/assessment rubrics are designed to cover all these three domains, the learning could be considered holistic. Apart from providing a holistic learning engagement, the teacher who fulfils the requirement of learning domains with proper planning and documentation would also help the Institute get excellent grades in the accreditation process. So, teachers (facilitators) should confirm that they and the students (participants) are wearing CAPS for better life-long learning.
Dr. Sirinicvasan Iyengar |
Dr. Srinivasan Iyengar, Director, JBIMS
Professor Parathasarathy Madusu, Associate Professor, DSIM, Hyderabad