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What Is Bloom’s Taxonomy? A Definition For Teachers

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What Is Bloom’s Taxonomy? A Definition For Teachers

by TeachThought Staff

In one sentence, Bloom’s Taxonomy is a hierarchical ordering of cognitive skills that can, among countless other uses, help teachers teach and students learn.

For example, Bloom’s Taxonomy can, for example, be used to create assessments, evaluate the complexity of assignments, design assessments, design curriculum, develop online courses. or plan project-based learning experiences for students.

A Brief History Of Bloom’s Taxonomy Revisions

Bloom’s Taxonomy was created by Benjamin Bloom in 1956, published as a kind of classification of learning outcomes and objectives that has, in the more than half-century since, been used for everything from framing digital tasks and evaluating apps to writing questions and assessments. (There’s even a YouTube video that uses Seinfeld to explain Bloom’s Taxonomy.)

The original sequence of cognitive skills was Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation. The framework was revised in 2001 by Lorin Anderson and David Krathwohl, yielding the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy. (You can read more here.) The most significant change was the removal of ‘Synthesis’ and the addition of ‘Creation’ as the highest-level of Bloom’s Taxonomy. And being at the highest level, the implication is that it’s the most complex or demanding cognitive skill–or at least represents a kind of pinnacle for cognitive tasks.

How Bloom’s Taxonomy Is Useful For Teachers 

In a separate post, we’re going to cover exactly how Bloom’s can be used by teachers. There are many reasons for the popularity of Bloom’s Taxonomy (that likely deserve an article of their own to explore). For now, it’s clear that many educators love Bloom’s because, among other virtues, it gives them a way to think about their teaching—and the subsequent learning of their students.

As mentioned above, the framework can be used to used to create assessments, evaluate the complexity of assignments, increase the rigor of a lesson, simplify an activity to help personalize learning, design a summative assessment, plan project-based learning, frame a group discussion, and more. Because it simply provides an order for cognitive behaviors, it can be applied to almost anything. (You can see one example here–one of our teaching materials that combined Bloom’s Taxonomy with common digital tasks.)

The image above visually demonstrates the hierarchy of Bloom’hierarchymy, which is crucial because it is that structure that characterizes its use. There are six levels in Bloom’s Taxonomy (the initialism RUA2EC may be useful to recall the levels).

The 6 Levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy

1. The first level of Bloom’s Taxonomy is to Remember.

Example activities at the Remembering level: memorize a poem, recall state capitals, remember math formulas

2. The second level of Bloom’s Taxonomy is to Understand.

Example activities at the Understanding level: organize the animal kingdom based on a given framework, illustrate the difference between a rectangle and square, summarize the plot of a simple story

3. The third level of Bloom’s Taxonomy is to Apply.

Example activities at the Application level: use a formula to solve a problem, select a design to meet a purpose, reconstruct the passage of a new law through a given government/system

4. The fourth level of Bloom’s Taxonomy is to Analyze.

Example activities at the Analysis level: identify the ‘parts of’ democracy, explain how the steps of the scientific process work together, identify why a machine isn’t working

5. The fifth level of Bloom’s Taxonomy is to Evaluate.

Example activities at the Evaluation level: make a judgment regarding an ethical dilemma, interpret the significance of a given law of physics, illustrate the relative value of a technological innovation in a specific setting—farming, for example.

6. The sixth and final level of Bloom’s taxonomy is to Create.

Example activities at the Creation level: design a new solution to an ‘old’ problem that honors/acknowledges the previous failures, delete the least useful arguments in a persuasive essay, write a poem based on a given theme and tone

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You can sign-up for an upcoming TeachThought University online course for Bloom’s Taxonomy here.

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