Using Bloom's Taxonomy in Learning

Why is it Needed

Bloom’s Taxonomy provides a systematic way of describing how a learner’s ability in knowledge, skills, performance and behaviours grow in complexity when mastering learning tasks. They are arranged in order of increasing awareness, thinking, reasoning and understanding.

It was developed to provide a common language for educators, trainers and facilitators to discuss and exchange learning and assessment methods. The goal of an educator/trainer/ facilitator using Bloom’s Taxonomy is to encourage higher-order thinking in their participants by building up from lower-level cognitive skills.

What is it

Bloom’s Taxonomy is a powerful tool in the design of learning experiences because it explains the process of learning:

  • Before you can understand a concept, you must know and be able to remember it.
  • To apply a concept, you must first understand it.
  • In order to evaluate a process, you must have analysed it.

What are the Six Levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy? Originally, the following levels were developed:

  1. Knowledge – remembering, being able to recall – list, define.  Lower level thinking skills.
  2. Comprehension – understands, can restate, describe, provide an example, summarise.
  3. Application – apply, calculate, solve, operate, demonstrate – theoretical to practical.
  4. Analysis –makes sense of how things are connected, analyse, compare and contrast.
  5. Synthesis – design, invent, create, compose, rewrite, rearrange, plan; and,
  6. Evaluation – rate, critique, make judgements appraise.  Higher-level thinking skills.

Over time and with new evidence, more refined models have become available and are widely used. These revised models more clearly show the bottom-up approach from lower-level thinking development to higher-order thinking skills and development.


Revised Blooms’ Taxonomy Model
How is it used

Each level allows educators, trainers and facilitators to develop learning opportunities with appropriately set objectives that start with lower-level thinking learning experiences and progressively developing experiences towards higher-level thinking skills.

So, as explained, before you can understand a particular concept, you must remember it. In order to evaluate a process, you must have analysed it. To create an accurate conclusion, you must have undertaken an evaluation. However, it is not necessary to always start with the lower-level skills and step up each time through the complete taxonomy. That approach would be quite tiresome, dull and perhaps boring for the educator/facilitator and the participants. Although there may be times when that process needs to be done. A better approach is to consider the level of the participants in the training/ session/course. 

Examples

For example, are a lot of the participants new to Scouting and are they undertaking an Introductory Course? If so, many of the learning experiences may target the lower-level Bloom’s skills, because the participants are building basic knowledge and skills. However, even in this situation it would be appropriate to develop experiences through learning objectives that move into the apply and analyse levels. Though going too far towards the top of the taxonomy pyramid too quickly is likely to create some unease and unachievable goals.

Another example, are most of the participants undertaking an Advanced Course where there are already well-developed knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours among the group? That is, the basics are solid in theory and practice. If so, then the remember and understand level experiences need not be too many. There will be a need to have a few, but realistically speaking, these more advanced adult participants should be able to master higher-level skills through appropriately set learning objectives. Providing experiences where there is a need to create a solution to a particular problem should give a chance to develop higher-level skills, where both analyse and evaluate also feature. Having too many of the lower-level skills may cause boredom or lack of interest at this level of adult experience.


The following ‘Bloom’s Taxonomy Table’ can provide specific details.

Bloom’s Taxonomy Action Verbs (Revised*)
DefinitionRememberingUnderstandingApplyingAnalysingEvaluatingCreating
Bloom’s DefinitionExhibit memory of previously learned material by recalling facts, terms, basic concepts, and answers.Demonstrate understanding of facts and ideas by organizing, comparing, translating, interpreting, giving descriptions, and stating main ideas.Solve problems to new situations by applying acquired knowledge, facts, techniques and rules in a different way.Examine and break information into parts by identifying motives or causes. Make inferences and find evidence to support generalizations.Present and defend opinions by making judgments about information, validity of ideas, or quality of work based on a set of criteria.Compile information together in a different way by combining elements in a new pattern or proposing alternative solutions.
VerbsChoose
Define
Find
How
Label
List
Match
Name
Omit
Recall
Relate
Select
Show
Spell
Tell
What
When
Where
Which
Who
Why
Classify
Compare
Contrast
Demonstrate
Explain
Extend
Illustrate
Infer
Interpret
Outline
Relate
Rephrase
Show
Summarize
Translate
Apply
Build
Choose
Construct
Develop
Experiment with
Identify
Interview
Make use of Model
Organize
Plan
Select
Solve
Utilize
Analyse
Assume
Categorize
Classify
Compare
Conclusion Contrast
Discover
Dissect Distinguish Divide
Examine
Function
Inference
Inspect
List
Motive
Relationships
Simplify
Survey
Take part in
Test for
Theme
Agree
Appraise
Assess
Award
Choose
Compare
Conclude
Criteria
Criticize
Decide
Deduct
Defend
Determine
Disprove
Estimate
Evaluate
Explain
Importance
Influence
Interpret
Judge
Justify
Mark
Measure
Opinion
Perceive
Prioritize
Prove
Rate
Recommend
Rule on
Select
Support
Value
Adapt
Build
Change
Choose
Combine
Compile
Compose
Construct
Create
Delete
Design
Develop
Discuss
Elaborate
Estimate
Formulate
Happen
Imagine
Improve
Invent
Make up
Maximize
Minimize
Modify
Original
Originate
Plan
Predict
Propose
Solution
Solve
Suppose
Test
Theory

* Anderson, L. W., & Krathwohl, D. R. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing, Abridged Edition. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.


See also:

Adult training

A taxonomy for Learning, Teaching and Assessing


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