What is SOLO?
SOLO is a true hierarchic taxonomy – increasing in quantity and quality of thought
  • SOLO identifies five stages of understanding. Each stage embraces the previous level but adds something more.
  • SOLO is a powerful tool in differentiating curriculum and providing cognitive challenge for learners
  • SOLO allows teachers and learners to ask deeper questions without creating new ones
  • Solo is a powerful metacognitive tool

Why use SOLO?
  • Unistructural and multistructural questions test students’ surface thinking (lower-order thinking skills)
  • Relational and extended abstract questions test deep thinking (higher-order thinking skills)
  • Use of SOLO allows us to balance the cognitive demand of the questions we ask and to scaffold students into deeper thinking and metacognition

Solo Taxonomy

(Condensed from a transcript by Mike Whiteman: Waitomo ICT Cluster )
SOLO stands for Structure of the Observed Learning Outcomes and was developed by John Biggs and Kevin Collis. In simple terms, the taxonomy presents a systematic way to describe how learner performance grows in complexity when mastering tasks . It defines levels of increasing complexity in a learners understanding of an idea. Learners may not exhibit all stages. Biggs describes it as “a framework for understanding understanding.” It seeks to provide a way to identify connections that learners make, with each level adding more.
Helping learners to look at their own work in relation to this taxonomy can help in two ways: * an assessment framework independent of ‘content knowledge’ * a model to help show how a piece of work can be improved.

If you are using rubrics and/or success criteria, then use of the SOLO Taxonomy may provide better understanding of ideas than the listing of specific knowledge.
  1. Pre - Structural the point hasn’t been understood.
  2. Uni - Structural one aspect of a task is picked up and used maybe a simple, obvious connection.
  3. Multi - Structural several aspects of a tasked picked up and used, but not linked aspects, they are treated independently. .
  4. Relational integration of ideas/aspects of the task.
  5. Extended Abstract connections are made not only within a topic, but beyond.

Resource Links

There has been a lot of discussion in the cluster about Solo Taxonomy and its use in planning and assessment. Here Waikowhai Primary School students discuss SOLO Taxonomy and HOT visual mapping as a framework for questioning in student inquiry.

Waikowhai Primary School students reflect on how their understanding about "learning" has changed since they were introduced to SOLO Taxonomy