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Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning Objectives

Bloom led development of a taxonomy of learning domains, classifyng these into Cognitive (thinking), Affective (feeling), and Psychomotor (physical skills). The cognitive learning domain corresponding to mental skills, consists of six levels arranged in order of increasing cognition:  
  • Knowledge (remember, recall) -- foundation/lower level thinking skills
  • Comprehension (grasp meaning, restate, understand, summarize)
  • Application (use content, abstract to practical)
  • Analysis (take apart, detect how parts are related to others in system and to the overall purpose or the structure, examine, classify, contrast, logic, arrangement, connections)
  • Synthesis (put together in new ways, design, invent, create)
  • Evaluation (judge, rate, critique, recommend, compare with evidence or criteria) -- highest level thinking skills

classification of learning domains, cognitive domains, critical thinking, analysis, thinking, learning

Illustration of Bloom's (updated) Taxonomy

           Bloom's Taxonomy Image by Xristina la
Image courtesy of Xristina la [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Learning objectives
In this sub-module participants will: 
  • identify the different levels of learning objectives or cognitive processes
  • determine the difference between the original and revised Bloom's taxonomy 
  • classify a learning task at the appropriate level in Bloom's taxonomy of learning objectives

Key points
  • In 1956 Bloom led development of a taxonomy (classification) of learning domains. The group identified three domains: Cognitive (to know, thinking), Affective (to feel or ones attitudes ), Psychomotor (to do, manual or physical skills).  In addition to the cognitive domain, educators should try to include activities drawn from different domains.
  • The cognitive learning domain corresponding to mental skills, consists of six levels arranged in order of increasing cognition:     
               (a) Knowledge (remember, recall)
               (b) Comprehension (grasp meaning, restate, understand, summarize) , 
               (c) Application (use content, abstract to practical) , 
               (d) Analysis (take apart, detect how parts are related to others in system and to the overall purpose or the structure, 
                                              examine, classify, contrast, logic, arrangement, connections)  
               (e) Synthesis (put together in new ways, design, invent, create),  
               (f)  Evaluation (judge, rate, critique, recommend, compare with evidence or criteria)

  • In 2000 Anderson, a former student of Bloom, along with Krathwohl, a colleague who had worked with Bloom on the original cognitive model, revised the taxonomy. There are a couple of significant differences: states (nouns) were changed to action (verbs), "create" placed at the top of the cognitive hierarchy (also note name change from "synthesis" to "create") and "evaluate" was classified at the cognitive level below "create". Their revised model of cognitive process also contains six levels arranged in order of increasing complexity: 
                         (a) Remember
                         (b) Understand
                         (c) Apply
                         (d) Analyze
                         (e) Evaluate
                         (f)  Create
  • The dimensions of knowledge in Bloom's original work included: factual, conceptual and procedural. Anderson & Krathwohl included meta-cognitive (awareness of ones cognitive processes, the thinking about thinking) as a new dimension of knowledge. 
  • At the lower-division level, the first and second year of undergraduate level, students typically learn the vocabulary, fundamental principles and processes within the discipline. They are provided with opportunities for understanding and applying their knowledge and skills within a structured environment. Some analysis and synthesis activities may also be part of the class work. 
  • At the upper-division level and beyond, typically students have more flexibility as well as the knowledge base for performing in-depth analysis, creating new artifacts, and evaluating work against prescribed criteria. They also are preparing for dealing with complex, multifaceted issues in unstructured environments that may require estimating and subjective decision making. 
  • Critical thinking is of primary importance at the analysis level of Bloom's taxonomy for examining ideas, topics, problems, etc. It is also used at other cognitive levels within the original and revised taxonomies.

Review the instructional media and documents related to the classification of cognitive domain provided below and answer the questions that follow:

Explanation of the classification of learning objectives

michelleholmes111's YouTube Video

Revision of Bloom's taxonomy by David Krathwohl at Syracuse University, 

Arranged in order of decreasing cognitive complexity:
Original (1956)     
 Anderson & Krathwohl's
Revision (2000)
    (generate, plan, produce)
    (production of unique communication, plans, propose set of operations, derivation of abstract relations) 
    (check, critique)
    (related to elements, relationships and organizational principles)
    (differentiate, organize, attribute)

    (execute, implement)
    (translation, interpretation, extrapolation)
    (interpret, exemplify, classify, summarize, infer, compare, explain)
    (related to knowledge about specific terminology, facts; knowledge about dealing with specific conventions, trends, sequences, classifications, categories, criteria, methodology; knowledge of universal principles, generalizations, and abstractions, theories and structures)
    (recognize, recall)

Possible verbs and question stems associated with different levels of the cognitive taxonomy:
  • Evaluation: judge, rank, recommend, conclude, convince, grade, assess, select, defend position, judge effectiveness, justify, estimate, value, rate, resolve, settle, decide, appraise, support viewpoint, choose 
  • Synthesis: Create, design, invent, compose, generalize, rewrite, modify, substitute, combine integrate, rearrange, formulate, plan, develop proposal, devise, hypothesize, develop new recipe, devise new or unusual way, suggest alternative method, discover
  • Analysis: Analyze, classify, compare (how quantities are similar or different), separate, divide into parts, dissect, take apart, categorize
  • Application: Apply, calculate, solve, compute, sketch, operate, demonstrate,  transcribe, code
  • Comprehension: State in ones words, describe, elaborate, give an example, illustrate, associate, contrast (how quantities differ),  differentiate, distinguish, state main idea, identify key person, restate, paraphrase, translate
  • Knowledge: Who, when, where, how much or many, list, define, label, quote 

Alternative models showing Bloom's classification of learning objectives using the the wheel/circle construct  developed by, and similar in structure to the model of critical thinking one used by Paul-Elder.
Bloom in wheel shape -- by in2edu

Based on Task Oriented Question Construction Wheel & Bloom's Taxonomy, by St. Edward's University Center for Teaching Excellence, Texas, USA

Additional Resources
An appetizing illustration of the classification of learning objectivesdeveloped by Argiro, Forehand, Osteen, and Taylor, linked through at the University of Georgia, College of Education, Georgia, USA

Excellent overview of learning domains
- Cognitive
- Affective
- Psychomotor

Including technology updates in the new 

Bloom's Digital Taxonomy Wheel developed by Ammar Merhbi at

A taxonomy of reflection, by Peter Pappas at, discussing the perspectives of various stakeholders in the learning process

Explanation of Bloom's Taxonomy of Cognitive Levels by the Teaching Effectiveness Program at the University of Origon (UO)

Improving Multiple Choice Questions by the Center for Faculty Excellence at the University of North Carolina (UNC)

Example of Practice
Discipline: Technology 
Subject: Electricity
Learning goal: Students respond to a multiple choice question regarding electrical safety. 

 Without  Activity  With Bloom's Taxonomy Activity
An electrical fuse is used to prevent excessive amount of __________________in a circuit.
(a) vibration
(b) current
(c) sound
(d) light

Students can directly pick out the response that relates to an electrical concept. They are unlikely to "bite" at responses that are clearly outside the scope of the course.

Evaluate multiple choice test questions used on the foundational electricity course exams to ensure that they are assessing both lower-level and higher-level thinking skills. 
An electrical fuse is used to prevent excessive amount of __________________in a circuit.
(a) resistance
(b) current
(c) wire insulation
(d) wire gauge

All multiple-choice items relate to electricity; two of the distractors use the word 'wire'; all electrical items in options listed allow for variation in range; have similar grammatical style, tenses, and length; no absolute terms, keywords not repeated in question stem or answer; avoids use of "all of the above" and "none of the above."

In addition, students may be required to either explain why the response selected is correct, or to explain why any one of the other choices is incorrect. This encouraging students to think more deeply about each prompt.

Recommended learning activity: Example of practice in one's discipline
Design a Bloom's Taxonomy based activity example from one's area of choice or expertise, clearly showing how it can be used for improving learning. For this: 
  • Specify the discipline or subject.
  • State what the participants are learning (the problem, goal, or concept, etc.). 
  • Summarize the typical way in which the topic is presented or covered and, optionally, any associated shortcomings.
  • Provide the modified way in which the topic is to be covered and, optionally, how it improves learning.

Example of Practice (blank area for jotting down ideas on paper)

Self-Assessment Quiz

Answers to Quiz
Position mouse (no need to click) over the top portion of the black colored box below to reveal the correct quiz answers under it.