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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October 12, 2020 |

Learning Assessment

In-house training sessions in the workplace typically tend not to have an assessment component, with formal assessment tending to be more a hallmark of an e-learning event or some type of certification training.  However their may come a type when you as a trainer will be called upon to create an assessment tool.

Assessment stress

When assessment is done, the objectives of the learning event will govern the type of types of assessment actions chosen with the assessment ensuring they are appropriate to your specific situation. As a broad principle, concentrate on the learners’ ability to apply content rather than their ability to recall facts when creating assessment items. In the type of most IT based/technical training that I deliver this tends to be the most common way of achieving this.  For example, if it is a PowerPoint course, the latter part of the session will be asking the attendees to put their new skills to use in creating a specific type of presentation.  This is basically a free form activity that allows the learner to assess their own abilities and gives them a chance to work out if there are any gaps.  The activity is not “scored” or judged, but instead is a litmus test to help the learner self-assess their progress. This is non-confrontational for adult learners to experience some feedback and assessment and fits in with the principles of Adult Learning Theory (Malcolm Knowles,1970) as it allows for a more self-directed than didactic approach.

But, if an assessment instrument is necessary (e.g. for an e-learning module), then the following should be kept in mind:

The assessment itself should be valid. To achieve this need to write test questions which accurately assess the knowledge and skills specified in the learning objectives. The assessment questions should obviously be clearly written and easy to understand. If the question is poorly worded and the learners (through no fault of their own) misinterpret the intended meaning of a test question, the results would no longer be valid. To improve validity, you should write assessment items that focus on the application of knowledge rather than just comprehension levels. As you create the questions you should consider having professional colleagues (e.g. SMEs, other L&D professionals or instructional designers) review them for you and then if necessary, they can be revised based on the reviewers’ feedback.

The most common types of assessment questions are:

  • multiple choice: probably the most popular type of assessment in eLearning. Multiple choice questions require learners to choose the best response from several options.
  • true/false: typically measures understanding of facts such as names, dates, and definitions.
  • fill-in-the-blank, also known as completion items. This type of question requires learners to finish a sentence by filling the correct word or phrase in a blank.
  • matching: consists of a list of questions or statements and a list of responses, with learners required to find a match or association between each question and response, and
  • free responses or short answers or essays: not as commonly used, this type requires learners to understand the content in order to answer the question. and require a higher level of thinking, analyzing, and logically presenting information.


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May 8, 2019 |

How Modern Workers Learn

This info graphic is taken from a recent report by the  Towards Maturity group in February 2019called The Transformation Journey (

A survey of over 10,000 workers shows there is more in common with the learning needs of both younger and more mature learners than usually assumed. Like the millennial, the older worker is also self-directed and tech-savvy and this research bucks the commonly held misconception of the older worker not keeping up with their and learning trends.

how modern workers learn

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August 31, 2011 |

Retaining Learning

When giving IT classes, I’ve always worked with the premise repetition fosters retaining the skills learned.  This is not a fashionable view, as rote or repetition learning is considered old-fashioned and behaviorist. However I can tell it works- and works beautifully –  particularly when it is done in a fun and creative way; for example by getting individuals to complete exercises, work in collaboration with the other learners to create something to model it on how they would use it in the workplace.  So,  it was interesting for me to read this blog post in The Training Zone by Gary Platt on Herman Ebgginhaus’s work , a small excerpt as below:

Ebbinghaus discovered that even with this simple task memory failed at analarming rate. His findings are often illustrated by a graph showing how memoryand recall deteriorates over a short space of time. The X axis (horizontal)measuring time and the Y axis (vertical) measuring recall.

But again these figures do not represent the research that Ebbinghausproduced, but do represent the concept he was proposing in chapter eight of hiswork, Retention as a function of repeated learning. Put simply: each revisitingof learnt material reinforces its retention.

Read Gary Platt’s full article here :… it is pretty obvious to me that the smartest things that trainers can do is to creatively work towards  increasing retention by allowing time in the day for the revisiting of learning and allowing people the opportunity to think and play –  and therefore remember.  Many trainers simply focus on getting through the material and therefore consider that to be a success, however if the learners cannot remember and then apply what they have learned one day, two days or two weeks after attending the training event there is hardly any point to the trainer patting him or herself on the back because they ‘delivered the content’.