Benjamin Bloom was born in Lansford, Pennsylvania in 1913 and died in 1999 at the age of 86. He was a professor of Education at the University of Chicago. He worked with colleagues in the American Psychological Association to develop a taxonomy of educational goals. This taxonomy organizes learning into 6 different levels from a constructivist perspective.

Bloom was known for a few different things. The first is the 3 domains of learning: Cognitive, Affective, and Psychomotor. His taxonomy of learning in the cognitive domain is his most significant work.

  • Cognitive: mental skills (knowledge)
    • Bloom’s Taxonomy is a theory that rates learning into 6 different levels, from the lowest level to the highest. I would put them into my words, but I cannot summarize them better than the following charts.
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Example and Key Words (verbs)
Knowledge: Recall data or information.
Examples: Recite a policy. Quote prices from memory to a customer. Know the safety rules. Define a term.
Key Words: arranges, defines, describes, identifies, knows, labels, lists, matches, names, outlines, recalls, recognizes, reproduces, selects, states.
Comprehension: Understand the meaning, translation, interpolation, and interpretation of instructions and problems. State a problem in one's own words.
Examples: Rewrites the principles of test writing. Explain in one's own words the steps for performing a complex task. Translates an equation into a computer spreadsheet.
Key Words: comprehends, converts, defends, distinguishes, estimates, explains, extends, generalizes, gives an example, infers, interprets, paraphrases, predicts, rewrites, summarizes, translates.
Application: Use a concept in a new situation or unprompted use of an abstraction. Applies what was learned in the classroom into novel situations in the work place.
Examples: Use a manual to calculate an employee's vacation time. Apply laws of statistics to evaluate the reliability of a written test.
Key Words: applies, changes, computes, constructs, demonstrates, discovers, manipulates, modifies, operates, predicts, prepares, produces, relates, shows, solves, uses.
Analysis: Separates material or concepts into component parts so that its organizational structure may be understood. Distinguishes between facts and inferences.
Examples: Troubleshoot a piece of equipment by using logical deduction. Recognize logical fallacies in reasoning. Gathers information from a department and selects the required tasks for training.
Key Words: analyzes, breaks down, compares, contrasts, diagrams, deconstructs, differentiates, discriminates, distinguishes, identifies, illustrates, infers, outlines, relates, selects, separates.
Synthesis: Builds a structure or pattern from diverse elements. Put parts together to form a whole, with emphasis on creating a new meaning or structure.
Examples: Write a company operations or process manual. Design a machine to perform a specific task. Integrates training from several sources to solve a problem. Revises and process to improve the outcome.
Key Words: categorizes, combines, compiles, composes, creates, devises, designs, explains, generates, modifies, organizes, plans, rearranges, reconstructs, relates, reorganizes, revises, rewrites, summarizes, tells, writes.
Evaluation: Make judgments about the value of ideas or materials.
Examples: Select the most effective solution. Hire the most qualified candidate. Explain and justify a new budget.
Key Words: appraises, compares, concludes, contrasts, criticizes, critiques, defends, describes, discriminates, evaluates, explains, interprets, justifies, relates, summarizes, supports.

    • A student of Bloom’s (Lorin Andersen) revised the taxonomy in the 1990s. She made 2 major changes:
      • Turned the categories from nouns to verbs.
      • Switched the evaluation and synthesis (creating) categories, so that creating is considered the highest form of learning. This version is widely used today.
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  • Affective: growth in feelings or emotional areas (Attitude or self)

Example and Key Words (verbs)
Receiving Phenomena: Awareness, willingness to hear, selected attention.
Examples: Listen to others with respect. Listen for and remember the name of newly introduced people.
Key Words: asks, chooses, describes, follows, gives, holds, identifies, locates, names, points to, selects, sits, erects, replies, uses.
Responding to Phenomena: Active participation on the part of the learners. Attends and reacts to a particular phenomenon. Learning outcomes may emphasize compliance in responding, willingness to respond, or satisfaction in responding (motivation).
Examples: Participates in class discussions. Gives a presentation. Questions new ideals, concepts, models, etc. in order to fully understand them. Know the safety rules and practices them.
Key Words: answers, assists, aids, complies, conforms, discusses, greets, helps, labels, performs, practices, presents, reads, recites, reports, selects, tells, writes.
Valuing: The worth or value a person attaches to a particular object, phenomenon, or behavior. This ranges from simple acceptance to the more complex state of commitment. Valuing is based on the internalization of a set of specified values, while clues to these values are expressed in the learner's overt behavior and are often identifiable.
Examples: Demonstrates belief in the democratic process. Is sensitive towards individual and cultural differences (value diversity). Shows the ability to solve problems. Proposes a plan to social improvement and follows through with commitment. Informs management on matters that one feels strongly about.
Key Words: completes, demonstrates, differentiates, explains, follows, forms, initiates, invites, joins, justifies, proposes, reads, reports, selects, shares, studies, works.
Organization: Organizes values into priorities by contrasting different values, resolving conflicts between them, and creating an unique value system. The emphasis is on comparing, relating, and synthesizing values.
Examples: Recognizes the need for balance between freedom and responsible behavior. Accepts responsibility for one's behavior. Explains the role of systematic planning in solving problems. Accepts professional ethical standards. Creates a life plan in harmony with abilities, interests, and beliefs. Prioritizes time effectively to meet the needs of the organization, family, and self.
Key Words: adheres, alters, arranges, combines, compares, completes, defends, explains, formulates, generalizes, identifies, integrates, modifies, orders, organizes, prepares, relates, synthesizes.
Internalizing values (characterization): Has a value system that controls their behavior. The behavior is pervasive, consistent, predictable, and most importantly, characteristic of the learner. Instructional objectives are concerned with the student's general patterns of adjustment (personal, social, emotional).
Examples: Shows self-reliance when working independently. Cooperates in group activities (displays teamwork). Uses an objective approach in problem solving. Displays a professional commitment to ethical practice on a daily basis. Revises judgments and changes behavior in light of new evidence. Values people for what they are, not how they look.
Key Words: acts, discriminates, displays, influences, listens, modifies, performs, practices, proposes, qualifies, questions, revises, serves, solves, verifies.
  • Psychomotor: manual or physical skills (Skills)
    • Bloom and his colleagues did not create a taxonomy for psychomotor skills.

Bloom is also known for the 2 Sigma Problem. The 2 Sigma Problem is the idea that students who are tutored one-on-one using mastery learning methods perform on average 2 standard deviations higher than those in traditional classes using conventional instructional techniques.

Examples of how theory applies in education/training
Traditional educational environments focus on the lowest levels of learning: remembering, comprehending, application. Teachers and instructors impart facts that they expect students to remember without any context or real understanding of why. Many tests and assessment techniques simply require the recollection of knowledge, with the occasional need to use or apply the knowledge to a specific problem or situation.

What is really needed is for learning environments to aim towards the top of Bloom’s taxonomy. If learners are required to create, then they must acquire the ability to do the other 5 levels as well. In order to design and create a working catapult, a student must know facts about gravity and force, understand them, apply them into real mathematical equations, analyze the equations to see how they apply to a catapult, and evaluate how they can best be used to maximize the catapult’s ability before they can actually create it. Feed students facts and they will not get past the knowledge level, but require them to create, and they will acquire not only knowledge, but the other abilities as well.

Important works
  • Bloom’s Taxonomy
  • Books
    • Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals, Handbook I: Cognitive Domain
    • Taxonomy of Education Objections, Volume II: The Affective Domain
    • Stability and Change in Human Characteristics
    • All Our Children Learning
    • Developing Talent in Young People

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