My original circular representation of the interpersonal domain of educational ‘objectives’ is based on taxonomies articulated by Jeanette Atkinson (2014) and inferred from the work of Milton J. Bennett (1986) and considerable practice-based evidence. An explanation of why I have chosen to use the circular design and to use ‘active’ verbs is on the main taxonomy page.
The vast majority of employers ask that new employees, notably graduates, be effective communicators; that they should be able to work well within a team; that they take responsibility and that they are accountable for their actions. Increasingly in a global context, new employees are also expected to be culturally ‘aware’ or ‘sensitive’. A great many universities go to significant effort to promote their ‘graduate attributes’ that usually include things like ‘global citizenship‘ and ‘being an effective member of society‘.
These abilities or attributes, communication, conflict resolution, collaboration, and cross-culture communication, all fall within the educational taxonomy of educational objectives described as the interpersonal domain, with some overlap to an affective domain as it denotes personal value structures. The affective certainly underpins the interpersonal. Yet it is rare to find any institution in which interpersonal domain is adequately represented in their intended learning outcomes (ILO) with any notion of progression throughout a programme.
There will be elusions to ‘being able to work together in a team‘ or ‘communicate effectively‘ but these are rarely articulated in the form of an assessable ILO. Surely, given its importance as a personal attribute interpersonal skills should be the central feature of at least some modules within any given programme of studies. We know students pay more attention to those skills that are directly assessed so rather than having catch-all communication-lite style ILOs we should direct address and assess such attributes. My scholarship has derived an interpersonal domain taxonomy that maps the four facets of the interpersonal, communication, conflict resolution, collaboration, and cross-culture communication. Mapped within a single domain across five progressively complex levels of competence (articulate, argue, debate, translate, interpret) all four facets are represented.
As with all of my circular visual representations the boundaries between segments is fluid and can be breached by designers based on their personal needs. There may be reasons for articulating a ‘lower-level’ ILO for conflict resolution within an ‘articulate’ range whilst at the same time having an ILO addressing cross-cultural awareness from the highest ‘interpret’ segment in the same module. This visual representation is intended simply to prompt discussions within learning design teams as to the appropriate language for structural ILOs and associated assessment.
Bennett, M. J. (1986). A developmental approach to training for intercultural sensitivity. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 10(2), 179–196.
Bennett, M., J. (1993). Towards ethnorelativism: A developmental model of intercultural sensitivity. In M. Paige (Ed.), Education for the Intercultural Experience. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press.