Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives

Introduction

In 1956, Benjamin Bloom with collaborators Max Englehart, Edward Furst, Walter Hill, and David Krathwohl published a framework for categorizing educational goals: Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. Familiarly known as Bloom’s Taxonomy, this framework has been applied by generations of K-12 teachers and college instructors in their teaching.

The framework elaborated by Bloom and his collaborators consisted of six major categories: Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation. The categories after Knowledge were presented as “skills and abilities,” with the understanding that knowledge was the necessary precondition for putting these skills and abilities into practice.

Benjamin Bloom

Bloom’s taxonomy is a classification of learning objectives within education. It is named for Benjamin Bloom, who chaired the committee of educators that devised the taxonomy, and who also edited the first volume of the standard text, Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals.

Bloom’s taxonomy refers to a classification of the different objectives that educators set for students (learning objectives). It divides educational objectives into three “domains”: cognitive, affective, and psychomotor (sometimes loosely described as “knowing/head”, “feeling/heart” and “doing/hands” respectively). Within the domains, learning at the higher levels is dependent on having attained prerequisite knowledge and skills at lower levels. A goal of Bloom’s taxonomy is to motivate educators to focus on all three domains.

There are three taxonomies. Which of the three to use for a given measurable student outcome depends upon the original goal to which the measurable student outcome is connected. There are knowledge-based goals, skills-based goals, and affective goals (affective: values, attitudes, and interests); accordingly, there is a taxonomy for each. Within each taxonomy, levels of expertise are listed in order of increasing complexity. Measurable student outcomes that require the higher levels of expertise will require more sophisticated classroom assessment techniques.

When developing instructional objectives, providing instruction, and evaluating student performance, it is important to keep in mind that there are different levels or outcomes of learning. Distinguishing among different levels and outcomes of learning is important. If teachers are unaware of different levels of learning, they are likely to focus on one level to the detriment of others. For example, a teacher may teach a vast amount of factual information but never get around to teaching students to apply and synthesize this information. Or a teacher may teach higher level thinking skills without realizing that these skills require the prior learning of basic skills that must be integrated into these higher order skills.

Blooms Taxonomy

Cognitive Domain

 1. Knowledge (Remembering previously learned material)

Educational Psychology: Give the definition of punishment.

Mathematics: State the formula for the area of a circle.

English / Language Arts: Recite a poem.

2. Comprehension (Grasping the meaning of material)

Educational Psychology: Paraphrase in your own words the definition of punishment; answer questions about the meaning of punishment.

Mathematics: Given the mathematical formula for the area of a circle,
paraphrase it using your own words.

English / Language Arts: Explain what a poem means.

3. Application (Using information in concrete situations)

Educational Psychology: Given an anecdote describing a teaching situation, identify examples of punishment.

Mathematics: Compute the area of actual circles.

English / Language Arts: Identify examples of metaphors in a poem.

4. Analysis (Breaking down material into parts)

Educational Psychology: Given an anecdote describing a teaching situation, identify the psychological strategies intentionally or accidentally employed.

Mathematics: Given a math word problem, determine the strategies that would be necessary to solve it.

English / Language Arts: Given a poem, identify the specific poetic strategies employed in it.

5. Synthesis (Putting parts together into a whole)

Educational Psychology: Apply the strategies learned in educational psychology in an organized manner to solve an educational problem.

Mathematics: Apply and integrate several different strategies to solve a mathematical problem.

English/ Language Arts: Write an essay or a poem.

6. Evaluation (Judging the value of a product for a given purpose, using definite criteria)

Educational Psychology: Observe another teacher (or yourself) and determine the quality of the teaching performance in terms of the teacher’s appropriate application of principles of educational psychology.

Mathematics: When you have finished solving a problem (or when a peer has done so) determine the degree to which that problem was solved as efficiently as possible.

English / Language Arts: Analyze your own or a peer’s essay in terms of the principles of composition discussed during the semester.

Knowledge (recalling information) represents the lowest level in Bloom’s taxonomy. It is “low” only in the sense that it comes first – it provides the basis for all “higher” cognitive activity. Only after a learner is able to recall information is it possible to move on to comprehension (giving meaning to information). The third level is application, which refers to using knowledge or principles in new or real-life situations. The learner at this level solves practical problems by applying information comprehended at the previous level. The fourth level is analysis – breaking down complex information into simpler parts. The simpler parts, of course, were learned at earlier levels of the taxonomy. The fifth level, synthesis,consists of creating something that did not exist before by integrating information that had been learned at lower levels of the hierarchy. Evaluation is the highest level of Bloom’s hierarchy. It consists of making judgments based on previous levels of learning to compare a product of some kind against a designated standard.

Table 1: Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives for Knowledge-Based Goals

1. Knowledge

Recall, or recognition of terms, ideas, procedure,
theories, etc.

When is the first day of Spring?

2. Comprehension

Translate, interpret, extrapolate, but not see full
implications or transfer to other situations, closer to literal translation.

What does the summer solstice represent?

3. Application

Apply abstractions, general principles, or methods to
specific concrete situations.

What would Earth’s seasons be like if its orbit was
perfectly circular?

4. Analysis

Separation of a complex idea into its constituent parts
and an understanding of organization and relationship between the parts.
Includes realizing the distinction between hypothesis and fact as well as
between relevant and extraneous variables.

Why are seasons reversed in the southern hemisphere?

5. Synthesis

Creative, mental construction of ideas and concepts from
multiple sources to form complex ideas into a new, integrated, and meaningful
pattern subject to given constraints.

If the longest day of the year is in June, why is the
northern hemisphere hottest in August?

6. Evaluation

To make a judgment of ideas or methods using external
evidence or self-selected criteria substantiated by observations or informed
rationalizations.

What would be the important variables for predicting
seasons on a newly discovered planet?

Table 2: Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives for Skills-Based Goals

Level of Expertise

Description of Level

Example of Measurable

Student Outcome

Perception

Uses sensory cues to guide actions

Some of the colored samples you see will need dilution
before you take their spectra. Using only observation, how will you decide
which solutions might need to be diluted?

Set

Demonstrates a readiness to take action to perform the
task or objective

Describe how you would go about taking the absorbance
spectra of a sample of pigments?

Guided Response

Knows steps required to complete the task or objective

Determine the density of a group of sample metals with
regular and irregular shapes.

Mechanism

Performs task or objective in a somewhat confident,
proficient, and habitual manner

Using the procedure described below, determine the
quantity of copper in your unknown ore. Report its mean value and standard
deviation.

Complex Overt Response

Performs task or objective in a confident, proficient, and
habitual manner

Use titration to determine the Ka for an unknown weak
acid.

Adaptation

Performs task or objective as above, but can also modify
actions to account for new or problematic situations

You are performing titrations on a series of unknown acids
and find a variety of problems with the resulting curves, e.g., only 3.0 ml
of base is required for one acid while 75.0 ml is required in another. What
can you do to get valid data for all the unknown acids?

Organization

Creates new tasks or objectives incorporating learned ones

Recall your plating and etching experiences with an aluminum
substrate. Choose a different metal substrate and design a process to plate,
mask, and etch so that a pattern of 4 different metals is created.

Table 3: Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives for Affective Goals

Level of Expertise

Description of Level

Example of Measurable

Student Outcome

Receiving

Demonstrates a willingness to participate in the activity

When I’m in class I am attentive to the instructor, take
notes, etc. I do not read the newspaper instead.

Responding

Shows interest in the objects, phenomena, or activity by
seeking it out or pursuing it for pleasure

I complete my homework and participate in class
discussions.

Valuing

Internalizes an appreciation for (values) the objectives,
phenomena, or activity

I seek out information in popular media related to my
class.

Organization

Begins to compare different values, and resolves conflicts
between them to form an internally consistent system of values

Some of the ideas I’ve learned in my class differ from my
previous beliefs. How do I resolve this?

Characterization by a Value or Value Complex

Adopts a long-term value system that is “pervasive,
consistent, and predictable”

I’ve decided to take my family on a vacation to visit some
of the places I learned about in my class.

To determine the level of expertise required for each measurable student outcome, first decide which of these three broad categories (knowledge-based, skills-based, and affective) the corresponding course goal belongs to. Then, using the appropriate Bloom’s Taxonomy, look over the descriptions of the various levels of expertise. Determine which description most closely matches that measurable student outcome.

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