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Bloom’s Taxonomy and Learning

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Bloom’s Taxonomy is a hierarchy of cognitive skills that describes how learners learn. Trainers use it to help them classify a learner’s abilities. This helps them develop materials that are best suited for the learner’s level.  

Origins of Bloom’s Taxology

Benjamin Bloom created Bloom’s Taxonomy in 1956. The original sequence was Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation.

In 2001 by Lorin Anderson and David Krathwohl updated the sequence.  The levels now are Remembering, Understanding, Applying, Analyzing, Evaluating and Creating. This version is known as the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy.

The Sequence of Cognitive Skills in Bloom’s Taxonomy

The following is an explanation of each of the cognitive skill levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Remembering

Remembering is the most basic level in Bloom’s taxonomy. While basic, don’t gloss it over because this level is the foundation for all learning.

At this level you can ask learners to give you information from memory. This can be from lectures, reading material and notes. For example, you can have them memorize a poem. You can have them recall the countries in the European Union. You can have them write out math formulas. Your purpose at this stage is to find out how well the learner can memorize and recall facts. 

Understanding

At this level a learner takes in the information and then shows their comprehension of it.  The learner is making sense of what they’ve learned.

To check a learner’s understanding, have them use their own words to talk about a problem or idea.  You can ask them to tell you about a story they’ve read. You can have them explain the definition of a word. You could have them explain the difference between a rectangle and square.

Applying

Apply is when the learner can take what they’ve learned and use it in a real-world situation. They are taking what they are learning and putting it to use to solve real problems.

For example, they can use a math formula to calculate their car’s gas mileage. They can create a spreadsheet to keep track of their monthly expenses. They can design a computer model of a room to make the find the best use of its space.

Analyzing

Analyzing is where learners begin to draw connections between ideas. They understand the material as a whole and can break it down into its component parts. They can create diagrams to help them figure out how information fits together.

At this level, a learner can determine how to solve a logic puzzle. They can explain the steps of a complicated chemical process. They are able to understand how a machine works and identify why it isn’t working.

Evaluating

At this stage, the learner evaluates the material they’ve learned. They give value to the materials. This allows them to distinguish facts from opinions. They can use their knowledge find effective solutions and/or justify specific decisions. 

Here a learner will be able to look at an ethical dilemma and make a judgment. They can tell the health significance of the failure of an internal organ. They can talk about the value of stone tools for human evolution.

Creating

At this level the student can apply what they’ve learned by creating something new. This can be writing a report, developing a website, or improving a process.

Creating is when the learner designs a new solution to an ‘old’ problem. They do this while keeping previous failures in mind. This could be a new piece of computer code. It could be an persuasive political argument. It could be an updated the braking mechanism for a car.

Using Bloom’s Taxology

Bloom’s Taxology can be used for a variety of ways in the classroom. You can use it to figure out the learner’s level for lesson planning and course design. Another use is for a learner’s formulative assessment as they progress through the course.  

It can be used when creating summative assessments for learners. This can be both at key points and at the end of the course.

What’s key is, as with all tools, to be smart about how you use Bloom’s Taxology. There are no hard and fast rules to it. You need to keep in mind that it is a theoretical construct that can be interpreted in many ways.