Classification is a practice to bring order to the vagaries of natural phenomena studied by all scientists. Classification refers to a process where an object, event, idea is grouped and arranged by applying a logical or physical structure to the target phenomena. Well-known classifications occur throughout science. Examples include the famous Linnaean taxonomy, named after the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, which classifies and orders life. Biological life, at its broadest is the kingdom, of which or three. Kingdoms are then further divided into phyla, phyla into classes, classes into orders, orders into families, families into genus, and genus into species. The broadly encompassing and unifying system for classification imposes order that is fundamental for scientists to study and understand life.
Other well known classification systems are the geologic timescale with its classification and order of time and important events in the history of Earth (e.g., Cenozoic era > Paleogene period > Paleocene epoch). Astronomy has its stellar classification of stars ordering stars according to their temperatures. And chemistry classifies elements with the periodic table originally developed by Dmitri Mendeleev. Classification systems move the sciences forward. Precision Teaching is an applied science, like medicine, which also has different classification schemes aimed at bringing order to the main subject matter of education – behavior.
Precision Teaching orders behavior through different methods. First, all behavior we can name does not automatically qualify for analysis. Behavior must form a pinpoint which means it has to include a Movement Cycle (i.e., action verb + object like “turns page,” “taps button” and “squeezes hand”) and pass the “Dead man’s test” or represent authentic, active behavior that a dead man could not perform (e.g., a dead man can sit in a chair, a dead man cannot chew food). Also, we need to add learning channels so we have a “pinpoint+” (said pinpoint plus).
Let’s take the example of the verb “engages.” When we say a student engages in reading, what does that really mean? Using Movement Cycles, a Precision Teaching might say, “reads word,” “reads sentence,” or “reads book.” Both have an active present tense verb and an object that tells you how to count something. “Reads words” means a student reads one word and we record a count of one (assuming the student read it correctly). We could also count incorrects so if the student reads the word incorrectly we have a count of one incorrect.
The Movement Cycle (MC) changes into a pinpoint when we add context. “Reads word” + “from first grade must know list” is a pinpoint because we added context the MC. The context of a specified list, a first grade must know list, contextualizes the Movement Cycle. Let’s draw a comparison between “engages in reading” and “reads word from first grade must know list.” Do you have any question, any question at all, what the second behavior looks like when compared to the first? “Engages in reading” seems like it communicates information but it does so only with each person making assumptions. In a science where precision reigns supreme, we never ever want to make assumptions when defining the object under observation. Ever!!! (I added three exclamation marks just so you know I am serious 😉
Could you tell the difference between a sighted and visually impaired student with “engages in reading.” Precision Teaching further classifies behavior concerning learning channels. If we say child A used the learning channel set “see-say” and child B “touch-say” can you guess which one is sighted and which one is visually impaired? Of course you can! Can you guess which one is sighted and which one is visually impaired if I used “engages in reading” to describe both? Precision Teaching is an applied science that classifies behavior like no other field in education or psychology. Because Precision Teaching is meant to augment other curricula or learning methods, it can be used in conjunction with whatever the person is measuring.