Bloom's Taxonomy

Introduction

Bloom's TaxonomyBloom's taxonomy was developed to provide a common language for teachers to discuss and exchange learning and assessment methods. Specific learning objectives can be derived from the taxonomy, though it is most commonly used to assess learning on a variety of cognitive levels. The table below defines each cognitive level from higher- to lower-order thinking.

The goal of an educator using Bloom's taxonomy is to encourage higher-order thought in their students by building up from lower-level cognitive skills. Behavioral and cognitive learning objectives are given to highlight how Bloom's taxonomy can be incorporated into larger-scale educational goals or guidelines. The key phrases can be used (e.g., Example Assessments) to prompt for these skills during the assessment process.

Knowledge

  • Definition
    Rote factual knowledge of specific terminology, ways and means (i.e., conventions, trends, classifications and categories, criteria, methodology), universal axioms and/or abstractions accepted by the field or discipline (principles and generalizations, theories and structures).
  • Behavioral Learning Outcome
    Ability to recall appropriate, learned information on command.
  • Cognitive Learning Outcome
    Lowest level of learning outcomes.
  • Key Phrases for Assessment
    arrange, define, duplicate, label, list, memorize, name, order, recognize, relate, recall, repeat, reproduce, state, describes, enumerates, identifies, matches, reads, records, selects, views, writes
  • Teaching/Learning Methods:
    Lecture
    Memorization
    Readings
    Podcast
    Video
    Web information
  • Formative Assessments
    Q & A using clickers or not (Questions are convergent, limited answers)
    Student recitations
    Jeopardy-like games
  • Summative Assessments
    Exam items of the form: define, label, list, reproduce.
    Items are convergent, limited answers.
  • Example Assessment
    Label the parts of the human eye.

Comprehension

  • Definition
    Understanding the meaning of information and materials.
  • Behavioral Learning Outcome
    Being able to translate materials from one form or format to another by explaining or summarizing and predicting consequences or effects.
  • Cognitive Learning Outcome
    Represents the lowest level of understanding and interpretation of rote factual information.
  • Key Phrases for Assessment
    classifies; cites; converts; describes; discusses; estimates; explains; generalizes; gives examples; makes sense out of; paraphrases; restates (in own words); summarizes; traces; understands. express identify indicate locate recognize report review select translate illustrates
  • Teaching/Learning Methods:
    Readings
    Graphic Organizers
    Demonstration
    Discussion
  • Formative Assessments
    Q & A (oral, clickers, one-minute papers) .
    Questions are convergent, limited answers.
    Student presentations or demonstrations within small groups (peer reviews); face to face, podcasts, videos, role play)
    Think-Pair-Share
  • Summative Assessments
    Exam items of the form: describe, explain, summarize, identify or select
    Items are convergent, limited answers.
    Student Presentations for instructor or evaluator (face to face, podcasts, videos, role play)
  • Example Assessment
    Trace the path the stimulus takes from the time light enters the eye to processing in the visual cortex.

Application

  • Definition
    Using information and materials to solve new problems or respond to concrete situations that have a single or best answer.
  • Behavioral Learning Outcome
    Applying learned material such as rules, methods, concepts, principles, laws, and theories.
  • Cognitive Learning Outcome
    Learning outcomes demonstrate a higher level of understanding of the mechanics of employing information to a purpose than comprehension.
  • Key Phrases for Assessment
    apply, choose, demonstrate, dramatize, employ, illustrate, interpret, operate, practice, schedule, sketch, solve, use, write, acts, administers, articulates, assesses, charts, collects, computes, constructs, contributes, controls, determines, develops, discovers, establishes, extends, implements, includes, informs, instructs, operationalizes, participates, predicts, prepares, preserves, produces, projects, provides, relates, reports, shows, teaches, transfers, uses, utilizes
  • Teaching/Learning Methods:
    Demonstrate problem-solving (Case Studies, text problems, scenarios)
    Demonstrate application of rules, laws, or theories (Case Studies, text problems, scenarios)
    Demonstrate methods or procedures
    Practice in multiple contexts
  • Formative Assessments
    Student demonstrations within small groups (peer reviews)
    Q & A (oral, clickers, one-minute papers) Questions may be convergent or divergent.
    Video student demonstrations and follow with self-evaluation
  • Summative Assessments
    Student presentation for instructor or evaluator. (Live, video, podcast)
    Exam items of the form: apply, use, solve, demonstrate, employ
    Problem set
  • Example Assessment
    Apply the Opponent Processes color theory to predict how the world appears to the major varieties of color blindness and color vision anomoly.

Analysis

  • Definition
    Decomposing materials into their component parts so they can be examined and understood.
  • Behavioral Learning Outcome
    The student is able to develop multiple conclusions concerning the motives, causes, inferences and generalizations that can be derived from the material's component parts and organization.
  • Cognitive Learning Outcome
    Learning outcomes involve a comprehension and understanding of the content and structure of the material.
  • Key Phrases for Assessment
    analyze, appraise, calculate, categorize, compare, contrast, criticize, differentiate, discriminate, distinguish, examine, experiment, question, test, breaks down, categorizes, correlates, diagrams, focuses, illustrates, infers, limits, outlines, points out, prioritizes, recognizes, separates, subdivides
  • Teaching/Learning Methods
    Case Studies
    Simulations (Computer-based, mannequins, part task trainers, role plays)
    Discussion
    Labs
    Graphic Organizers
  • Formative Assessments
    Student presentation within small group (peer review)
    Q & A (oral, clickers, one-minute papers) Questions may be convergent or divergent.
    Graphic Organizers
  • Summative Assessments
    Exam items of the form: analyze, compare, distinguish, examine, test (Take home, online, or face to face)
    Portfolio entries focused on analyzing case studies or clinical experiences.
    Essays
    Student presentations
  • Example Assessment
    Compare and contrast Helmholtz's (1865) "Place Theory" to Rutherford's (1886) "Frequency Theory".

Synthesis

  • Definition
    Using new and creative applications of prior knowledge and skills.
  • Behavioral Learning Outcome
    The student’s ability to produce a new or original end product. Examples include a unique communication, plan of operations (research proposal), or abstract relations (information classification scheme).
  • Cognitive Learning Outcome
    Learning outcomes emphasize creativity and the creation of unique patterns or structures.
  • Key Phrases for Assessment
    arrange, assemble, collect, compose, construct, create, design, develop, formulate, manage, organize, plan, prepare, propose, set up, write, adapts, anticipates, collaborates, combines, communicates, compiles, devises, expresses, facilitates, generates, hypothesizes, incorporates, individualizes, initiates, integrates, intervenes, invents, models, modifies, negotiates, progresses, rearranges, reconstructs, reinforces, reorganizes, revises, structures, substitutes, validates
  • Teaching/Learning Methods
    Research/Labs
    Plan development
    Multiple Case Studies – Class or small group discussions assembling relevant information to produce a hypothesis, plan to address recurring problems
    Interviews with experts
  • Formative Assessments
    Small group discussions
    Student presentations in small groups
    Q & A (oral, clickers, one-minute papers) Questions may be convergent or divergent.
  • Summative Assessments
    Exam items of the form: develop, plan, prepare, propose, construct, design, formulate, create, assemble
    Portfolio
    Design and build a model
    Create a work of art
    Develop a unique plan to serve some purpose
    Student presentations
  • Example Assessment
    Choose a perceptual disorder and create a device that would mitigate its effects.

Evaluation

  • Definition
    Judging value of materials based on personal values/opinions or definite criteria. Concerned with evaluating material to determine if it fulfills given purpose. Criteria may be internal (organization; defined by student) or external (relevant to the purpose; provided to student).
  • Behavioral Learning Outcome
    Student is able to produce an end product that fulfills a given purpose rather than being right/wrong.
  • Cognitive Learning Outcome
    Learning outcomes highest because it contains all other categories and includes value judgments based on clearly defined criteria.
  • Key Phrases for Assessment
    appraise, argue, assess, attach, choose, compare, defend, estimate, judge, predict, rate, core, select, support, value, evaluate, contrasts, concludes, criticizes, critiques, decides, interprets, justifies, reframes
  • Teaching/Learning Methods
    Demonstrate process for evaluating research reports based on criteria
    Case Studies - Small group discussions of appropriateness of procedures, results
    Debates
  • Formative Assessments
    Small group discussions
    Q & A (oral, clickers, one-minute papers) Questions may be convergent or divergent.
    Debates
  • Summative Assessments
    Exam items of the form: evaluate, argue, assess, defend, judge, predict, rate, support
    Student presentations
  • Example Assessment
    Evaluate the ADA guidelines in light of what you have learned about blindness and critique its strengths and weaknesses. Do you believe the guidelines are effective? Why or why not?

Learning Objectives

Learning objectives are what the teacher wants his or her students to learn, either as a result of a specific lesson or on the grander, more general, scale of the entire course. Learning objectives target knowledge, skills or attitudes for change. Bloom's taxonomy specifically targets these by seeking to increase knowledge (cognitive domain), develop skills (psychomotor domain) or develop emotional aptitude or balance (affective domain). Learning objectives might be identified by someone outside the teacher, such as state-wide or departmental standards. The taxonomy provides a basis for developing sub-goals and assessment methodology to meet these goals. It is important to note that learning objectives are goals, and are not the activities performed to achieve those goals. Objectives can be categorized into broad, global objectives that may take many years to achieve and provide direction for education, educational goals that guide curriculum development over the weeks or months it takes to complete a specific course and instructional goals that narrowly focus on the daily activities, experiences and exercises used in a specific lesson plan.

Applications of the Taxonomy

Taxonomies are developed to provide a framework for organizing a continuum along an underlying structure. For example, languages may be classified as Romantic, Germanic, etc. based on their underlying grammatical structure and origin. Bloom’s taxonomy primarily provides instructors with a focus for developing their course learning objectives. There are a number of reasons why a teacher would want to use Bloom's taxonomy. Initially, it can be used to increase one's understanding of the educational process. Teachers can see and understand complex cognitive development and how lower-level skills build into higher-order thinking (e.g., recalling facts and comprehending previous problems allows a student to apply their experience to similar problems). Using this understanding facilitates the prioritizing of material and can steer the organization of lessons to maximize class time. For example, lower-level skills (e.g., memorizing factual knowledge) can be developed before higher-level skills are introduced (e.g., analysis of relationships). Current educators frequently face a confusing array of standards and curriculum requirements. Bloom's taxonomy offers a guiding framework for breaking these criteria down into accessible chunks which can be used to direct day-to-day lesson plans and can be easily compared to their own goals for the class. Just as different levels require different instructional delivery methods, they also require different assessment methods. Bloom's taxonomy can be used as a checklist to ensure that all levels of a domain have been assessed and align assessment methods with the appropriate lessons and methodologies. In this way, the taxonomy also makes it easier for instructors to maintain consistency between assessment methods, content and instructional materials and identify weak areas.

Benjamin Bloom's Background

Benjamin S. Bloom (1913-1999) worked for over fifty years as an educational psychologist dedicated to developing ways of describing, assessing and encouraging higher-order thinking in children and adults. Working with a group of college and university examiners in Boston in 1948, Bloom attempted to formulate a common language for curriculum and assessment to reduce the amount of time and effort needed to develop meaningful and effective tests by facilitating communication between instructors. The result of this meeting, Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook I: The Cognitive Domain published in 1956, was never intended to be the complete and final word on learning and assessment. Bloom’s taxonomy, often referred to as the Handbook, was intended to be a tool that could flexibly change with the times. Because of this, the original publication focused exclusively on the cognitive domain, though Bloom and later researchers expanded the taxonomy to include the affective and psychomotor domains. In higher education, the cognitive domain receives more emphasis; however, the affective and psychomotor domains find their application in counseling, sports and physical therapy. It remains one of the most influential works in curriculum development written in the twentieth century (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001).

Update to Bloom's Taxonomy (2001)

Originally, Bloom's taxonomy was one-dimensional with an exclusive focus on the knowledge domain. The current updated version developed by Anderson and Krathwohl (2001) reorganizes, and highlights the interactions between, two dimensions: cognitive processes and knowledge content. Anderson and Krathwohl identify two reasons for updating the original handbook. They emphasize a refocusing of educational objectives back to the original handbook, which was ahead of its time and can still offer assistance to modern educators and to incorporate new findings in psychology and education into the framework. In their revision, cognitive processes are presented as verbs and the knowledge content are presented as nouns. Along with exchanging the levels of Evaluation and Synthesis (which they rename to Creation), Anderson and Krathwohl redefine the knowledge dimension to include four types:

  • Factual Knowledge: Basic elements of a discipline that a student must know and be able to work with to solve problems including basic terminology and specific details and elements.
  • Conceptual Knowledge: Interrelationships between basic factual knowledge that demonstrate how elements work together, for example, classifications and categories, principles and generalizations and theories, models and structures.
  • Procedural Knowledge: How something is done including the methods of inquiry, skills, algorithms techniques and methods needed to investigate, apply or analyze information.
  • Metacognitive Knowledge: Awareness and knowledge of one's own cognition including strategies for learning, contextual and conditional knowledge about cognitive tasks and self-knowledge.

References:

Bloom, B. S. (1969). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals : Handbook I, Cognitive domain. New York: McKay.
Anderson, L. W., Krathwohl, D. R., & Bloom, B. S. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom's taxonomy of educational objectives. New York: Longman.

 

Faculty Spotlight View Other Award Winners

Iryna Malendevych
College of Health and Public Affairs Iryna  Malendevych My teaching philosophy is predicated on the basis that regardless of the type of personality, learning style, or level of pre-existing knowledge, each student can master a reasonable understanding of any concept. Motivation and personal example are the keys to successful learning. It is very important to addre...

Tison Pugh
College of Arts and Sciences Tison   Pugh The one common feature of all medieval literature, despite differences in authors, cultures, and genres, is that it is very, very old. When beginning my courses, I often face resistant students who have predetermined that, because of its age, the literature under examination is useless, if not altogether d...

Constance Goodman
College of Education & Human Performance Constance Goodman Each semester I approach my classroom in the spirit of the late James Baldwin, "For these are all of our children. We either profit by or pay for whatever they become." Education is a life or death situation for many children in our public schools. The young boys to your right represent the real impact of teaching...