Bloom's Taxonomy

Benjamin Bloom (1913-1999) was an educational psychologist who was interested in improving student learning. In the late 1940s, Bloom and other educators worked on a way to classify educational goals and objectives, which resulted in three learning categories or "domains" and the taxonomy of categories of thinking:

  • Cognitive domain (knowledge): verbal or visual intellectual capabilities
  • Affective domain (attitudes): feelings, values, beliefs
  • Psychomotor domain (skills): physical skill capabilities

Each of the three domains requires learners to use different sets of mental processing to achieve stated outcomes within a learning situation. Thus, instructional goals and objectives should be designed to support the different ways learners process information in these domains.

Each of the three domains requires learners to use different sets of mental processing to achieve stated outcomes

Original and Revised Taxonomies

The "original" Bloom's taxonomy is still widely used as an educational planning tool by all levels of educators. In 2001, a former student of Bloom published a new version the taxonomy to better fit educational practices of the 21st century. At that time, the six categories were changed to use verbs instead of nouns because verbs describe actions and thinking is an active process. Both models are portrayed as hierarchical frameworks where each level is subsumed by the higher, more complex level—students who function at one level have also mastered the level(s) below it. Using the revised taxonomy, for example, a student who has reached the highest level, "Creating," has also learned the material at each of the five lower levels. Thus, a student has achieved a high level of thinking skill.

Bloom’s Taxonomy 1956

Evaluation
Synthesis
Analysis
Application
Comprehension
Knowledge

Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy 2001

Creating
Evaluating
Analyzing
Applying
Understanding
Remembering 

Why Use Bloom’s Taxonomy?

Bloom’s Taxonomy can be useful for course design because the levels can help you move students through the process of learning, from the most fundamental remembering and understanding to the more complex evaluating and creating (Forehand, 2010).

The taxonomy can assist you as you develop assessments by helping you match course learning objectives to any given level of mastery. When teaching lower-division, introductory courses, you might measure mastery of objectives at the lower levels, and when teaching more advanced, upper division courses, you would likely be assessing students’ abilities at the higher levels of the taxonomy.

Using Bloom's Taxonomy to plan instruction

Instructional objectives are more effective if they include specific verbs that can tell students what they are expected to do. The verbs listed in the table below are linked with each level of thinking.

To develop effective and meaningful instruction further, design activities and assessments that challenge students to move from the most basic skills (remembering) to more complex learning which leads to higher order thinking (creating). 

The table below demonstrates the connections between the levels of thinking, verbs you might use in a learning objective, sample questions or prompts to generate thinking at that level, and 

Verbs and Products/Outcomes Based on the Six Levels of Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy
Adapted from "Bloom's Bakery, an Illustration of Bloom’s Taxonomy" by Argiro, Forehand, Osteen, & Taylor (2007) and Extending Children’s Special Abilities: Strategies for Primary Classrooms by Dalton & Smith (1987, pp. 36-37)
Level of Thinking
(Highest to Lowest)
Verbs Sample Question / Statement Stems Activities, Products, Outcomes

Creating

Making Something New

change
combine
compare
compose
construct
create
design
devise
formulate
generate
hypothesize
imagine
improve
invent
plan
predict
propose

  • Design a… to…
  • How would you improve…?
  • Formulate a theory for…?
  • Predict the outcome of…?
  • How would you test…?
  • How would you estimate the results for…?
  • If you had access to all resources how would you deal with…?
  • What would happen if…?
  • How many ways can you…?
  • Develop a new proposal which would…
  • Create new and unusual uses for…
  • Construct a new model that would change…
  • Design a computer lab for your program
  • Invent a machine to
    do a specific task
  • Imagine a new product
    and plan a marketing campaign
  • Design a cover image for a film
  • Formulate a hypothesis for…
  • Compose a musical
    score for …
  • Devise a problem set for…
  • Plan a system of governance for a utopian society

Evaluating

Making Judgments Based on Criteria

argue
appraise
assess
check
debate
decide
defend
determine
dispute
editorialize
judge
justify
prioritize
rate
recommend
select
support
verify

  • What is your opinion of…?
  • How would you prove or disprove...?
  • Would it be better if…?
  • What would you recommend…?
  • How would you rate the…?
  • What would you cite to defend the actions…?
  • How could you determine…?
  • How would you prioritize…?
  • Based on what you know, how would you explain…?
  • What data were used to make the conclusion?
  • How would you compare the ideas …?
  • How would you compare the people?
  • How would you justify...?
  • Debate the merits of…
  • Write a letter to… defending your views on …
  • Write an end-of-the-year report in which you appraise…
  • Recommend a solution to the problem of…
  • Justify a proposal for…
  • Select the most useful products for…
  • Prioritize spending for local government
  • Assess the credibility of sources

Analyzing

Distinguishing Different Parts of a Whole

advertise
analyze
appraise
attribute
categorize
compare
contrast
differentiate
distinguish
examine
identify
infer
investigate
organize
outline
separate
sequence
test
  • What are the parts or features of …?
  • How is ___ related to …?
  • What is the theme …?
  • List the parts …
  • What inferences can you make …?
  • How would you classify …?
  • How would you categorize …?
  • What evidence can you find …?
  • What is the relationship between …?
  • What is the function of …?
  • What motive is there …?
  • Differentiate the distinct parts of …
  • Analyze data according to …
  • Troubleshoot problems with lab equipment
  • Arrange a conference and sequence all necessary steps
  • Make an organizational chart of your unit or department (categorize)
  • Write an ad campaign for your organization (advertise)
  • Distinguish between ethical and unethical behavior

Applying

Using Information in New Situations

classify
construct
complete
demonstrate
dramatize
examine
execute
illustrate
implement
practice
show
solve
use
  • How would you use…?
  • What examples can you find to?
  • How would you solve ___ using what you’ve learned?
  • What approach would you use to…?
  • What would result if…?
  • What elements would you choose to change …?
  • What questions would you ask in an interview with …?
  • Construct a marketing strategy for your organization
  • Develop a storyboard of digital images to demonstrate a process
  • Draw a flow chart that illustrates a system
  • Perform the scene
  • Practice the task
  • Use the tool to…
  • Graph the parabola

Understanding

Explaining Information and Concepts

calculate
compare
define
describe
discuss
distinguish
expand
explain
identify
interpret
locate
outline
predict
report
restate
translate
  • How would you classify the type of...?
  • How would you compare or contrast…?
  • How would you rephrase the meaning of...?
  • What facts or ideas show…?
  • Which statements support…?
  • What can you say about…?
  • Which is the best answer to…?
  • How would you summarize…?
  • Explain what you think is the main idea
  • Identify what you think are the most important supporting details
  • Restate the story in your own words
  • Compare the events leading up to the two wars
  • Interpret the artwork
  • Translate the passage into English
  • Calculate the solution using the appropriate formula

Remembering

Recalling or Recognizing Information

describe
duplicate
find
list
locate
name
recall
recognize
reproduce
state
tell
underline
write
  • What is…?
  • Where is ?
  • How did ___ happen?
  • How would you describe…?
  • Who was…?
  • Who were the main…?
  • When did…?
  • Recall…
  • List the main events
  • Write a timeline of events for…
  • Recite a poem
  • Locate the parts of __ on a diagram
  • Underline all the adverbs
  • Define the scientific terms
  • Describe the Fourth Amendment

 

Summary

Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy is one of many tools that faculty can use to create effective and meaningful instruction. Use it to plan new or revise existing curricula; test the relevance of course goals and objectives; design instruction, assignments, and activities; and develop authentic assessments.

References

Argiro, M., Forehand, M., Osteen, J., & Taylor, W. (2005). Bloom’s bakery: An illustration of Bloom’s taxonomy. http://epltt.coe.uga.edu/index.php?title=Bloom%27s_Taxonomy

Dalton, J. & Smith, D. (1987). Extending children’s special abilities: Strategies for primary classrooms. Melbourne, Australia: Ministry of Education.

Forehand, M. (2010). Bloom’s taxonomy. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology (pp. 41-47). Retrieved from https://textbookequity.org/Textbooks/Orey_Emergin_Perspectives_Learning.pdf

Smaldino, S. E., Lowther, D. L., & Russell, J. D. (2008). Instructional technology and media for learning. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.


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Suggested citation

Northern Illinois University Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. (2020). Bloom's taxonomy. In Instructional guide for university faculty and teaching assistants. Retrieved from https://www.niu.edu/citl/resources/guides/instructional-guide

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