Friday, August 06, 2021

Marzano - taxonomy, instructional strategies and discipline

Robert Marzano is a strong believer in evidence-based practice. He has researched and recommends practical strategies for teaching and learning in schools. Although he has a general instructional framework and is quite precise in his recommendations, he also recognises that actual teaching requires a high degree of fluidity and integration. The teacher must let lessons flow and momentum must be maintained, where the teacher observes, adapts and varies strategies. Above all they must keep discipline by spotting disruption and taking practical steps to dampen it down. He had published many books on both theory and practical teaching.


A New Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (2000) is an attempt to move beyond Bloom’s simplistic taxonomy, with a more researched and practical taxonomy. He proposes three systems:

1. Self-System is about motivation and deciding to move forward therefore involves what emotions and beliefs the learner has about the importance and efficacy of knowledge.

2. Metacognitive System is where one reflects on one’s learning strategies, such as goal setting, being aware of and improving your own learning process and whether you are progressing.

3. Cognitive System then deals with the actual taxonomy of knowledge, retrieval comprehension, analysis, and knowledge utilization.

  • Knowledge Retrieval is the first level where you recognise, recall or do a task.

  • Comprehension moves forward where you summarise, respond, clarify or describe how or why.

  • Analysis is where you categorise, classify, assess, critique claims and develop cogent arguments.  This has five mental processes: match, classify, analyse errors, generalise, and specify.

  • Knowledge Utilization is where you problem-solving, possibly with experimental inquiry.  You must discuss, debate, critique and put ideas to the test.

Nine learning strategies

Marzano’s also gets very specific on practical learning strategies, which appeared in Classroom Instruction That Works (2001):

  1. Identifying similarities and differences

  2. Summarizing and note taking

  3. Reinforcing effort and providing recognition

  4. Homework and practice

  5. Non-linguistic representations

  6. Cooperative learning

  7. Setting objectives and providing feedback

  8. Generating and testing hypotheses

  9. Cues, questions, and advance organizers

Student behaviour

Aware of the often sidelined issue of poor student behaviour and discipline, recognising that up to half a teacher’s time is on discipline, he also provides practical advice on managing behaviour:

Clear rules and procedures

Effective disciplinary interventions

Fostering positive student-teacher relationships

Developing an effective mental set

Instilling student responsibility


Although primarily known in the US, where his influence on US teacher training has been considerable. His evidence-led theory is translated into practical recommendations. Marzano widens out from a general taxonomy to specific recommendations, not only on instruction but also, and deliberately, while controlling disruptive student behaviour. He also recognises that specific tactics must be seen within the content of the holistic flow of a successful lesson. This is what gives his theories real traction.


Marzano, R.J. and Kendall, J.S. eds., 2006. The new taxonomy of educational objectives. Corwin Press.

Marzano, R.J., Pickering, D. and Pollock, J.E., 2001. Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement.

Marzano, R.J., 2007. The art and science of teaching: A comprehensive framework for effective instruction.

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