BLOOM’S TAXONOMY 101
Teachers study Bloom’s Taxonomy in their education training program. Taxonomy means classification. Bloom’s taxonomy is a simple classification system that defines and distinguishes six levels of human thinking, learning and understanding. Teachers should include all learning levels in their instruction, from the lower levels of remembering and understanding to the higher levels of evaluating and creating. This article, Bloom’s Taxonomy 101, provides a summary of these learning levels.
Part 1: Higher Order Thinking Skills
Higher order thinking is more than memorizing facts or repeating information. After restating the facts, we must do something with the facts. We should understand them, draw conclusions from them, connect them, categorize them, rearrange them in new ways and apply them to solve problems. This is called thinking. Henry Ford once said:
“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.”
To promote higher order thinking, Benjamin Bloom, an American educational psychologist, created and arranged six learning categories in degrees of difficulty from the easiest at the bottom to the hardest at the top. Under his leadership, the Taxonomy of Educational Objectives was published in 1956. His work helps teachers develop goals, objectives, lessons and activities as it explains the processes of learning.
Part 2: Bloom’s Taxonomy – 1956 version
Bloom’s Taxonomy was quickly and widely recognized and accepted in schools across America. As a result of its popularity, posters of color-coded learning pyramids decorated countless classroom walls. The information is simple, short and easy to remember for teachers and students.
- KNOWLEDGE – identification and recall of information
memorize, define, list, arrange, label, name, relate, repeat, recognize, identify
Memorize the poem.
Identify the main characters in the story.
Label the continents on the map.
- COMPREHENSION – organization and selection of facts and ideas
explain, outline, discuss, compare, describe, translate, distinguish, restate, interpret, predict
Explain the main idea of the story to your partner.
Restate the story in your own words.
Outline the names and dates of the battles in the American Revolution.
- APPLICATION – use of facts, rules and principles
apply, solve, show, use, illustrate, classify, complete, construct, design
Construct a clay model of the planet Earth.
Design a market strategy for selling a new toy.
Illustrate your favorite chapter by making a mural of what is happening.
- ANALYSIS – separating a whole into component parts
analyze, examine, contrast, advertise, separate, conduct, review, arrange, investigate, prepare
Arrange a party and record all of the steps that are needed.
Review a work of art in terms of form, color and texture.
Prepare a report about the unit of study and present it to the class.
- SYNTHESIS – combining ideas to form a new whole
create, invent, compose, imagine, propose, devise, formulate, plan
Invent a machine to do a certain task.
Devise a new language code and write a short paragraph using it.
Create new words to a familiar song.
- EVALUATION – Developing opinions, judgements or decisions
judge, select, assess, recommend, rate, debate, argue, verify, decide, choose, justify, prioritize
Debate with a partner about an issue of special interest.
Judge according to a list of criteria the top Science Fair projects.
Argue your views in a panel discussion about capital punishment.
The original 1956 Bloom’s Taxonomy guided teaching for 50 years – until several educational specialists revised it for a new generation. The following changes were made:
- Verbs rather than nouns are used to identify the six levels. This provided learners with clearer objectives for what is expected of them. In writing lesson plans, teachers are encouraged to write behavioral learning objectives that use action verbs to describe measurable behaviors.
- The two highest levels switched places, making Creating (Synthesis) the highest level preceded by Evaluating (Evaluation) as the second highest level.
- The title of the taxonomy changed.
Bloom’s Taxonomy – 1956 A Taxonomy for Teaching, Learning and Assessment – 2001 (Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy)
Knowledge Remember Memorize a poem. Recall state capitols.
Comprehension Understand Summarize the plot of a story.
Application Apply Use a formula to solve a problem.
Analysis Analyze Explain the scientific method steps in the problem.
Synthesis Evaluate Interpret the significance of a given law of physics.
Evaluation Create Write a poem based on a given theme and tone.
Why is Bloom’s taxonomy important?
For over six decades, both versions of Bloom’s Taxonomy (1956 and 2001) have been widely used by teachers from kindergarten through college. Bloom’s framework enables and encourages teachers to create learning goals which students understand. Educators can effectively choose objectives, write lesson plans and create assessment tools which lead students up the pyramid of learning. For students, the six levels of Bloom’s taxonomy bridge the gap between what they know now and what they need to learn to attain a higher level of knowledge. Teaching students how to think is just as important as teaching anything else!