Bloom’s Taxonomy

Last Updated: October 9th, 2018

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The original Taxonomy of Educational Objectives is commonly referred to as Bloom’s Taxonomy, named after Benjamin Bloom who devised a system of categorizing and classifying student learning objectives (SLOs). Bloom’s work was originally published in 1956. Bloom’s framework divided educational objectives into three “domains”: cognitive, affective and psychomotor or skills-based objectives. Each domain contained six major levels of learning and learning at the higher levels is dependent on attaining skills at the lower levels of learning. The initial intent was for education to focus on all three of these domains for a more complex and holistic form of education.[1]

Bloom’s Taxonomy originally offered the six main categories of the cognitive orders as nouns and were termed and described as:[2]

  • Knowledge – “involves the recall of specifics and universals, the recall of methods and processes, or the recall of a pattern, structure, or setting.”
  • Comprehension – “refers to a type of understanding or apprehension such that the individual knows what is being communicated and can make use of the material or idea being communicated without necessarily relating it to other material or seeing its fullest implications.”
  • Application – refers to the “use of abstractions in particular and concrete situations.”
  • Analysis – represents the “breakdown of a communication into its constituent elements or parts such that the relative hierarchy of ideas is made clear and/or the relations between ideas expressed are made explicit.”
  • Synthesis – involves the “putting together of elements and parts so as to form a whole.”
  • Evaluation – engenders “judgments about the value of material and methods for given purposes.”

With the intent of updating for the sake of relevance, the taxonomy’s terminology was revised by a group of cognitive psychologists, curriculum theorists, instructional researchers and testing specialists in 2001. This revision changed the six categories from nouns to verbs but also changed “knowledge” to “remembering,” “comprehension” to “understanding” and “synthesis” to “creating.”[3] This is the more commonly known and used categories of the cognitive orders:

  • Remembering – recognizing, recalling, retrieving
  • Understanding – interpreting, exemplifying, classifying, summarizing, inferring, comparing, explaining
  • Applying – executing, implementing
  • Analyzing – differentiating, organizing, attributing
  • Evaluating – checking, critiquing
  • Creating – generating, planning, producing

[1] Wikipedia: Bloom’s taxonomy

[2] Vanderbilt: Bloom’s Taxonomy

[3] A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy: An Overview

Along with the revision the authors recognized that while knowledge is the basis of the six categories of cognitive thinking, there is another specific taxonomy of the types of “knowledge dimensions” used in cognition that are:

  • Factual Knowledge
  • Conceptual Knowledge
  • Procedural Knowledge
  • Meta-Cognitive Knowledge

These “knowledge dimensions” align together with the cognitive orders to form a grid that can be helpful when writing leaning objectives for students. See below in the resources section for a helpful interactive chart on how these align together.

Best Practices

  • Use Bloom’s Taxonomy of Verbs as a pedagogical tool to help you create Student Learning Objectives for the course and for each successive module to help you and the student understand what will be learned and assessed.
  • Be sure to align your verbs with your levels of learning and assessment type. Remember that quizzes, discussions, and case studies are all ways to assess the mastery of student understanding.


Accessibility Statement

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