Bloom’s Taxonomy

The most recent blog post, Writing Effective Learning Objectives, introduced the concept of starting with the end in mind.  Identifying the desired level of learning is one way to start at the end.  Selecting a verb to indicate the desired level(s) of learning is an important part of writing learning objectives.

Bloom’s taxonomy can be a useful tool in the quest to write effective learning objectives.

Benjamin Bloom, an educational psychologist, identified a system to classify the various levels of learning, originally known as the Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, and made significant contributions to the theory and practice of mastery-learning.  “Mastery learning was developed as a way for teachers to provide higher quality and more appropriate instruction for their students” (Guskey, 2001, p. 3).  Bloom’s theory posited that most students could learn well and master subjects when teachers used effective teaching practices to create favorable learning conditions.

The practice of mastery learning starts with effectively written learning objectives, guided by Bloom’s taxonomy.

Bloom’s taxonomy is often represented visually as a triangle with the lower order levels of learning toward the bottom (remembering and understanding), and the higher order levels of learning toward the top (applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating).  *See note below regarding the evolution of these levels.  The premise of this taxonomy is that educators should scaffold instruction offering favorable learning conditions that support students as they “learn” and “master” the learning goals.  Throughout this learning process, the inclusion of formative assessments, corrective activities, and enrichment activities offer an opportunities for both teacher and learner to assess the levels of learning achieved (Guskey, 2005).

More on the assessments and activities in future posts.

For now, use the image below to become familiar with or to revisit the various levels of Bloom’s taxonomy and the types of actionable verbs that can be used when writing learning objectives and to accurately capture the desired levels of learning.  The lower order levels of learning are toward the bottom and the higher order levels of learning are toward the top.

* When Bloom and his colleagues initially established the taxonomy, the levels were labeled as the following from bottom to top: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. The resource above shows Bloom’s Taxonomy Revised by Anderson, Krathwohl, and Bloom (2001).

Resources:

Anderson, L. W., Krathwohl, D. R., & Bloom, B. S. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives. Allyn & Bacon.

Guskey, T. R. (2001, April). Benjamin S. Bloom’s contributions to curriculum, instruction, and school learning. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Seattle, WA. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED457185.pdf

Guskey, T. R. (2005, April). Formative classroom assessment and Benjamin S. Bloom: Theory, research, and implications. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Montreal, Canada. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED490412.pdf

Krathwohl, D. R. (2002). A revision of bloom’s taxonomy: An overview. Theory into Practice, 41 (4), 212-218. Retrieved from http://www.unco.edu/cetl/sir/stating_outcome/documents/Krathwohl.pdf

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