SOLO Taxonomy Resources for Secondary Schools

SOLO Taxonomy is a powerful model for learning. It supports students to shift their level of understanding from surface to deep to conceptual.  

Explore our secondary school resources to bring this reliable and robust model to your classroom. You will find SOLO Taxonomy symbols, graphic organisers, templates and writing frames for academic language (verbs and connectives) and hexagonal thinking. The SOLO rubrics make student learning visible, encouraging feedback and student agency.  

Additionally, SOLO Taxonomy can be applied across curriculum areas, from physical education to mathematics.  

Design learning experiences that support students to become critical thinkers and allow you to see the impact of your teaching.  


How many levels are there in SOLO Taxonomy? 

There are five levels in SOLO Taxonomy. 

As described by Pam Hook in her resource, First Steps with SOLO Taxonomy, the five stages of SOLO Taxonomy are: 

  • prestructural – no idea where learning outcomes show unconnected information 
  • unistructural – one idea where learning outcomes show simple connections, but the importance is not noted 
  • multistructural – many ideas where learning outcomes show connections are made, but the significance to overall meaning is missing 
  • relational – related ideas where learning outcomes show connections and parts synthesised with overall meaning 
  • extended abstract – extended ideas where learning outcomes go beyond the subject and make links to other concepts. 

The SOLO Taxonomy levels represent two changes in learning outcomes.  

Firstly, a quantitative increase in understanding, in other words, knowing more. This is seen when students move from unistructural to multistructural.  

Then, a qualitative change in understanding. For example, a deepening of understanding is seen when progressing from multistructural to relational to extended abstract.  

What are some examples of SOLO Taxonomy verbs? 

The examples of SOLO Taxonomy verbs are associated with the levels of understanding. Pam Hook says in her resource, SOLO Taxonomy: A Guide for Schools

“Associating the levels in SOLO with “declarative knowledge verbs” in the process of “constructive alignment” is fundamental to building clarity, competence and confidence into the process of writing learning intentions.” 

Examples of verbs for the SOLO levels can be seen below: 

  • unistructural – define, identify, name, draw and label 
  • multistructural – describe, list, combine and outline 
  • relational – sequence, classify, apply, organise and relate 
  • extended abstract – generalise, predict, evaluate and construct.  

How is SOLO Taxonomy different to Bloom’s? 

SOLO Taxonomy is different to Bloom’s Taxonomy in that it can be taught to students, whereas Bloom’s tends to be used more by teachers. In this way, SOLO encourages students to delve deeper when answering questions. 

Professor John Hattie explains the other differences between Bloom’s Taxonomy and SOLO Taxonomy: 

  • Bloom’s Taxonomy is more content-orientated, whereas SOLO Taxonomy aims to measure the learner’s quality of understanding.  
  • Unlike SOLO Taxonomy, Bloom’s Taxonomy has been subject to little research and evaluation. 
  • Bloom’s Taxonomy distinguishes “knowledge” from the intellectual abilities or processes that are involved in utilising that knowledge. On the other hand, SOLO Taxonomy is based mainly on the processes of understanding used by students. As a result, knowledge is present at all levels of SOLO Taxonomy.  
  • In Bloom’s Taxonomy, questions and answers must all be at the same level. SOLO Taxonomy allows for differing levels. 
  • Bloom’s Taxonomy lacks criteria for judging outcomes. SOLO Taxonomy provides an explicit means for assessing learning outcomes.