December 22, 2020 |

Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning

Bloom’s Taxonomy is a classification system used to define and distinguish different the levels of human cognition i.e., thinking, learning, and understanding. It was developed in 1956 (later modified in 2000) as a framework to use in both teaching and creating lessons and assignments and remains a useful tool to consult for anyone who needs to impart knowledge or teach a new skill.  The levels on a sliding scale are remembering, understanding, applying, analysing, evaluating and finally creating.  While not all trainers, educators or instructional designers are aware of its existence as a formal concept, it is highly likely we use aspects of it unconsciously in creating our learning content.   I think it is also fair to say that depending on the length and depth of the knowledge we are seeking to impart, that not all levels will be moved through in a “lock step manner”. For example, teaching or developing a half day PowerPoint course you would be looking for remembering and understanding, definitely applying and if time allowed creating.  Just as an aside, it is good to remember that all course planning is done “backward”, starting with the development of required learning objectives which are hopefully measurable, realistic and achievable and for this Bloom’s Taxonomy can provide a good touchpoint for consideration during the planning process of learning events.

Most commonly, those teaching adults are concerned with learning in the cognitive domain. This domain measures the development of knowledge and intellectual abilities (Bloom, as cited in McDonald, 2007). Common performance indicators for this domain include multiple choice exams, true false exams, fill in the blank etc. If the learning objective is for students to master a motor skill, (e.g., change a tire), you would design a performance indicator for the psychomotor domain by requiring a demonstration of the skill or performance of a simulation. If you wish to measure learning in the affective domain (also known as the emotional domain), Bloom’s Taxonomy indicators should seek to measure the development of interests, attitudes, and values: examples include essay exams, reflective journal entries, or creative writing assignments.

The levels are commonly shown in a pyramid format as shown below, with Creation being the pinnacle and overall goal:

Blooms Taxonomy Pyramid

Anderson, L.W. & Krathwohl, D.R. (2001). A taxonomy for teaching, learning, and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives. New York, NY: Longman.
Bloom, B.S. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals. New York, NY: Longmans, Green.

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