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Aug 20 2008

Domains of Learning and the MCAT-The Cognitive Domain


Author: Dr. James L Flowers
Category: MCAT Prep Tips

The pertinent literature makes it clear the MCAT is pretty good at predicting early medical school success, only fair to poor at predicting late medical school success and virtually worthless in predicting success as a physician (Evolution of the MCAT, Validity of MCAT).

Beginning in the late 1940’s an extensive effort was undertaken to try to classify education goals and objectives and how learning occurs. This effort resulted in three domains (or see domain details) of how students learn. How do these relate to the MCAT and the prediction of who will become a successful physician?

First, lets focus on the Cognitive Domain.

The Cognitive Domain was finalized by the work Dr. Bloom in the mid 1950’s. His derivations became known as Bloom’s Hierarchy. His dimensions from simple to the complex:

  1. Knowledge(recalls or recognizes information,ideas, and principlesin the approximate form in which they were learned),
  2. Comprehension(translates,comprehends, or interprets information based on prior learning),
  3. Application(selects, transfers, and uses data and principles to complete a problem or task with a minimum of direction),
  4. Analysis(distinguishes,classifies, and relates the assumptions,hypotheses, evidence,or structure of a statement or question),
  5. Synthesis(originates,integrates, and combines ideas into a product, plan or proposal that is new to him or her),
  6. Evaluation(appraises,assesses, or critiques on a basis of specific standards and criteria).

Refer To: Why MCAT Fails to Predict Physician Success, MCAT and Affective Domain, MCAT and Psychomotor Domain, MCAT Validity in Perspective