What is Bloom’s Taxonomy?

Dr. Lamont Moore
Dr. Lamont Moore
Director of Testing, Accountability, Gifted Education, and Title III; Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, Gardner-Webb University, NC
‘Taxonomy’ written in a notebook surrounded by sketches.

Education is a field that prides itself on championing the balance of theory and practice. Millions of dollars have been poured into research projects that have informed practices of those who are studying education as well as those who are practitioners. In the same sense, those who study the field of education as well as those who educate have millions of dollars to glean from those who have had promising experiences educating others. There is a wealth of knowledge and experience that exists for educators, and when you begin to examine these things, you are bound to stumble upon Bloom’s Taxonomy.

What is Bloom’s Taxonomy?

Bloom’s Taxonomy is a framework that categorizes and ranks educational objectives. It was created primarily by psychologist Benjamin Bloom in 1956. The original taxonomy provided six categories: Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis and Evaluation.

Knowledge

This category refers to the recall of specifics, universals, methods, processes, patterns, structures or settings. In essence, it is a demonstration of very basic thinking skills that center around the ability to recall.

Comprehension

This category referred to the level of understanding in which a person is able to make use of what has been communicated. It doesn’t require the person to be able to relate it to other information or have a broad knowledge about how the information can be used.

Application

This category refers to the ability to utilize information in concrete or abstract situations.

Analysis

This category refers to a person’s ability to break down information into the specific elements (or parts) of which it is comprised and exposing the relationship of those elements (or parts) to the whole.

Synthesis

This category is the opposite of analysis as it refers to a person’s ability to examine specific elements (or parts), identify their relationship with one another, and put them together to form a whole.

Evaluation

This category refers to a person’s ability to exercise judgments about the value and meaning of information as it relates to specific purpose(s).

In 2001, Bloom’s Taxonomy was revised by a group of cognitive psychologists. This work was published under the title of A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing but is informally known as Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy. The six categories that were written as nouns in the original taxonomy were revised and published as six verbs: Remember, Understand, Apply, Analyze, Evaluate and Create. With this revision also came a switch in hierarchy between Synthesis (which was revised to be Create) and Evaluation (which was revised to be Evaluate).

What is the Purpose of Bloom’s Taxonomy?

When educating groups and classes of students, it becomes immediately apparent that there are many different ability levels and skill sets. Bloom’s Taxonomy provides insight to the progression of reasoning that occurs within the human mind. It reveals the complexities of cognition by providing a clear-cut trajectory that connects concrete thinking to abstract thinking.

The goal of Bloom’s Taxonomy is to provide a framework that allows for educational objectives to be set very specifically and strategically for learners. Because of its comprehensive nature, the framework has been widely used for decade by both K-12 educators as well as college instructors.

Bloom’s Taxonomy is designed to encourage higher order thinking in students. It is designed to be a tool in which student thinking can be built from the lower levels of Bloom’s to the higher levels of Bloom’s.

Initially it was designed to serve the purpose of being an assessment aid in higher education. However, it has evolved to serve a variety of purposes within the field of education, especially K-12 education.

What can Educators Use Bloom’s Taxonomy For?

Although Bloom’s Taxonomy is very influential in the field of education, there are still many educators who are not familiar with its purpose and even fewer who know how to maximize its use. This is especially true in higher education. As a result, you find distracted students, misaligned assessments, and poorly written lessons. In order to avoid this, educators must know that there are several ways that they can implement Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Writing Learning Objectives

Objectives that don’t exist or are unorganized result in lessons that are void of learning or confusing for students. Bloom’s will provide a very practical way for educators to clarify learning for students and plan appropriate instruction.

Increase Rigor in Assignments

Because Bloom’s presents a hierarchy of thinking, it allows for educators to adjust the level of rigor based on the competency and readiness of each student. For example, if a student demonstrates the ability to successfully Remember (Knowledge) and Understand (Comprehension), then the teacher is able to provide rigor to the learning experience by challenging the student to Apply (Application).

Design Assessments

After using Bloom’s to plan instruction, educators can use it to design assessments. Because the revised version of the taxonomy presents categories in verb form, it makes it easier for educators to create assessment questions or tasks that align with each category.

Questioning

One of the most popular uses of Bloom’s taxonomy is to use it to design effective questioning for students. Questioning exists in every part of the learning process and can appear in every part of the teacher’s lesson. Poor questioning usually results in poor learning, poor instruction and poor assessments. Therefore it is critical that educators have tools like Bloom’s to use to craft active questioning for students.

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