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.
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
Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy 2001
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.
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|
Making Something New
Making Judgments Based on Criteria
Distinguishing Different Parts of a Whole
Using Information in New Situations
Explaining Information and Concepts
Recalling or Recognizing Information
Bloom’s Taxonomy provides a guide to ensure lower to higher level thinking skills are addressed in lessons, by developing objectives, student tasks, and assessments across the six levels. It is also a way to differentiate within a lesson and determine the depth of learning the students have achieved. Develop supplemental learning materials across these levels and have them on hand for the early finishers and/or those that may need to take a step back and review lower levels of the math concept and skill area. This way you are continuing to support struggling learners and challenge your more advanced earners within the lesson.
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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Argiro, M., Forehand, M., Osteen, J., & Taylor, W. (2005). Bloom’s bakery: An illustration of Bloom’s taxonomy. https://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.