Bloom’s Taxonomy for Educational Objectives
Benjamin S. Bloom studied the cognitive development of students. In 1956, he published “Bloom’s Taxonomy” for cognitive abstraction. Abstraction is the ability of an individual to deal with concepts. Early in life, we understand the concrete world: things we can touch, see, and even smell. We rely upon our senses to understand the world. What we cannot sense, we cannot understand.
As we develop, mentally maturing, we gain the ability to appreciate concepts, such as friendship and respect. With enough stimulation, some individuals reach a point at which they deal with truly abstract thought: cosmology, theoretical math, and philosophy.
Effective lesson plans target specific keywords to reflect cognitive levels. Educators match these keywords to exercises and evaluations to ensure students are guided to the next level within Bloom’s Taxonomy. Many lesson plan formats indicate the Bloom Cognitive Level of the lesson.
Taxonomy of Cognitive Levels
Bloom’s taxonomy is remembered with the mnemonic ESAACK (E-Sack). Educators hope students achieve the ability to evaluate concepts and complex relationships, but learning must start with basic knowledge.
Knowledge is the recall of information or basic skills. Memorization provides students with knowledge, but does not impart a reason for the knowledge. Bloom’s Taxonomy places knowledge at the lowest level of cognition.
- Observation and recall of information
- Knowledge of dates, events, and places
- Knowledge of major ideas
- Mastery of subject matter
Testing: Knowledge is demonstrated via repeating what is learned.
Keywords: check, collect, count, define, describe, examine, find, identify, label, list, locate, match, name, recite, show, tabulate, tell, quote, when, where, who, write
Comprehension is the first level of understanding information, requiring that a learner be able to appreciate the context surrounding data. Most learners achieve comprehension, if only to meet educational expectations. Unless reinforced through application, comprehension fades with time.
- Understanding information
- Grasp meaning
- Translate knowledge into new context
- Interpret facts, compare, contrast
- Order, group, infer causes
- Predict consequences
Testing: Comprehension is demonstrated via restating what is known in a manner new for the learner.
Keywords: advance, alter, annotate, associate, change, contrast, convert, define, describe, discuss, distinguish, estimate, extend, interpret, outline, predict, project, propose, retell, reword, summarize, transform, translate
Application is the use of information or skills. To apply information or skills is to use the information in solving new problems. The ability to apply skills is best tested in new situations or with new problems derived from those originally presented. Learners achieving application solve new problems by testing various information and skills they comprehend as potential solutions.
- Use information
- Use methods, concepts, theories in new situations
- Solve problems using required skills or knowledge
Testing: Application is demonstrated via the ability to solve new problems or to propose new queries.
Keywords: adopt, apply, calculate, change, complete, demonstrate, develop, devote, discover, employ, examine, exercise, exert, exploit, handle, illustrate, manipulate, modify, operate, relate, show, solve, try, use, utilize
Analysis is the recognition of patterns and components. When a learner analyzes information, he or she recognizes the “hidden” meaning of the data stream. Pattern recognition marks intermediate cognitive skills. In Bloom’s Taxonomy, analysis marks the stage most commonly met by American schools because it is easily tested.
- Seeing patterns
- Organization of parts
- Recognition of hidden meanings
- Identification of components
Testing: Analysis is demonstrated via the ability to determine “root” causes or the parts of a fact.
Keywords: analyze, arrange, assay, audit, check, classify, compare, connect, disassemble, dissect, divide, explain, include, infer, inspect, order, reason, screen, scrutinize, section, select, simplify, survey, test, uncover
Synthesis is the creation of new ideas and generalizations based upon previous knowledge and experiences. Creativity is not the same as the ability to innovate, though creativity is essential to the innovation process. In Bloom’s Taxonomy, true synthesis is a goal seldom achieved in lesson plans. While a child might learn music, he or she might not be able to compose an innovative work. Derivative creation is not advanced synthesis; it does mark the beginnings of cognitive synthesis.
- Use old ideas to create new ones
- Generalize from given facts
- Relate knowledge from several areas
- Predict, draw conclusions
Testing: Synthesis is demonstrated via the creation and innovation of conceptual fields.
Keywords: affect, blend, build, cause, compile, compose, conceive, create, develop, formulate, integrate, invent, make, modify, reorder, structure
Evaluation is marked by reasoning and judgment. The highest cognitive level in Bloom’s Taxonomy, evaluation requires a learner to assign values to information and concepts. At the evaluation level, a learner makes independent choices, moving beyond what others have expressed or imparted. When a person evaluates information, he or she discriminates the subjective from the objective. Evaluation is rare, since all people are influenced by subjective forces. True evaluation requires a lack of biases and prejudices. Bloom theorized that evaluation is a cognitive level people reach for moments but do not sustain.
If an evaluation is based upon biases, as most are, the evaluation is not occurring at the highest level of cognition. Some diagrams of Bloom’s taxonomy show a mid-range between synthesis and evaluation. This line represents where most advanced decisions are made — we generalize (synthesis) then judge information and events based upon the generalities we accept as “true.”
- Compare and discriminate between ideas
- Assess value of theories, presentations
- Make choices based on reasoned argument
- Verify value of evidence
- Recognize subjectivity
Testing: Evaluation is demonstrated via the judgments or predictions based upon past knowledge.
Keywords: accept, assess, award, decide, defend, grade, judge, prioritize, rank, reject, select, weigh
Bloom, Benjamin S. “Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals.” Handbook I, Cognitive Domain. New York: Longmans, Green, 1956.