Bloom's Taxonomy

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Taxonomy: A taxonomy is a way of classifying things. Bloom’s taxonomy is one man’s way of classifying educational objectives. As you read, you will see that Bloom has classified these objectives into three domains:
  • Cognitive (thinking skills)
  • Affective (values and emotions)
  • Psychomotor (movement skills)
Within each domain, he lists different ‘levels’ of objectives. The article may give you the impression that one level is more advanced than another, and that learners cannot achieve the higher level is they have not achieved the ‘lower’ levels. This is not the case! This system of levels is useful as a taxonomy. However, real people in real situations do not fit neatly into levels of categorization. For example, although KNOWLEDGE is the first level, certain knowledge is very difficult. SYNTHESIS (creating something new) can be very difficult when working with ideas and theories, but quite simple when doing something practical, for example, putting together a healthy menu using information about food groups.

As you read these categorizations, use the information to guide your thinking about assessment, and the different things that you can assess.

Benjamin Bloom is recognised as the leader in the pursuit of defining educational objectives early this century. Developing a classification system (a taxonomy) of educational objectives, Bloom divided his findings into three domains;

Bloom listed six basic objectives within the COGNITIVE domain:1

  1. Knowledge - remembering or recognising something previously encountered without necessarily understanding, using, or changing it.
  2. Comprehension - understanding the material being communicated without necessarily relating it to anything else.
  3. Application - using general concept to solve a particular problem.
  4. Analysis - breaking something down into parts.
  5. Synthesis - creating something new by combining different ideas.
  6. Evaluation - judging the value of materials or methods as they might be applied in a particular situation.

Bloom listed five basic objectives in the AFFECTIVE domain:

  1. Receiving - being aware of or attending to something in the environment.
  2. Responding - showing some new behaviour as a result of experience.
  3. Valuing - showing some definite involvement or commitment.
  4. Organisation - integrating a new value into one's general set of values, giving it some ranking among one's general priorities.
  5. Characterisation by value - acting consistently with the new value.

Bloom listed six basic objectives in the PSYCHOMOTOR domain:

  1. Reflex movements - actions that occur involuntarily in response to some stimulus.
  2. Basic fundamental movements - innate movement patterns formed from a combination of reflex movements.
  3. Perceptual abilities - translation of stimuli received through the senses into appropriate movements.
  4. Physical abilities - basic movements and abilities that are essential to the development of more highly skilled movements.
  5. Skilled movements - more complex movements requiring a certain degree of efficiency.
  6. Non-discursive movements - ability to communicate through body movement.

    The above information is taken solely from
    Woolfolk, A.E. Educational Psychology Fourth Edition
    (New Jersey, USA: Prentice Hall, 1990)

The following is an example of how Bloom's Taxonomy may be implemented into a working curriculum unit - (in this instance a"Science" unit) Taken from Joseph, J. and Brown, K Authentic Assessment Workshop 1998

Theme - Ecology systems (Ecosystems)

Convergent processes

Knowledge - define, identify, list, locate, recall

Simple   What is an ecosystem?
Extended Define an ecosystem and list the varieties that are found in South Africa.

Comprehension - compare, summarise, explain, convert

Simple   List the different parts of the ecosystem and explain what they do.
Extended Compare a marine ecosystem with one from another area of our state.

Application - apply, calculate, practice, demonstrate

Simple   using a diagram, show how the water cycle operates in an ecosystem.
Extended   Demonstrate what happens when humans interfere with the water cycle.

Divergent processes

Analysis - analyse, contrast, deduce, differentiate, distinguish, infer

Simple   Contrast the natural water cycle with that used by our community
Extended Examine an ecosystem that has been damaged by human interference. How could the problems have been avoided?

Synthesis - compose, create, design, formulate, produce, rearrange

Simple Identify an unspoilt ecosystem and design a way of preserving it.
Extended   How would preserving our local ecosystems enhance our environment?

Evaluation - appraise, assess, critique, judge, support

Simple   Is it reasonable that people pollute our waterways? Defend your answer.
Extended   Assess the impact of pollution in our local waterways.

Relating Bloom's taxonomy to special needs

  • Using the six levels of Bloom's taxonomy to plan questions and activities provides the scope for student negotiation and the opportunity to differentiate the curriculum for some students in accordance with their interests, abilities and specific learning needs.
    Applying Bloom's taxonomy is a WHOLE class exercise and is inclusive of both mainstream and special need children.
    Teachers choosing to use the taxonomy in this way may structure learning experiences so that :-
    All students work through the knowledge and comprehension stage, then select one activity from each of the other levels.
  • All students work through the knowledge and comprehension stage and then select activities from any other levels.
  • Some work through the knowledge and comprehension stage and others work at higher levels. This is particularly relevant for gifted and talented children. All students work from any level  - some activities are tagged as essential - some as optional.
  • Select a thinking process as a focus - e.g. Analysis (where instruction is being provided in that process) Some work through knowledge and comprehension stage, then write down their own activity at their own preferred level. Students write their own activity/questions from the taxonomy.
  • Engaging the students in this activity serves as a useful lead-in to the negotiated student project to follow.

Teaching using Bloom's taxonomy

1.Knowledge (finding out)
a. Use: records, films, videos, models, events, media, diagrams, books...
b. observed behaviour: ask match, discover, locate, observe, listen.
2. Comprehension (understanding)
a. Use: trends, consequences, tables, cartoons....
b. observed behaviour: chart, associate, contrast, interpret, compare.
3. Application (making use of the knowledge)
a. use: collection, diary, photographs, sculpture, stichery, illustration.
b. observed behaviour: list, construct, teach, paint, manipulate, report.
4. Analysis questions (taking apart the known)
a. use: graph, survey, diagram, chart, questionnaire, report....
b. observed behaviour: classify, categorise, dissect, advertise, survey.
5. Synthesis (putting things together in another way)
a. Use: article, radio show, video, puppet show, inventions, poetry, short story...
b. observed behaviour: combine, invent, compose, hypothesis, create, produce, write.
6. Evaluation (judging outcomes)
a. Use: letters, group with discussion panel, court trial, survey, self-evaluation, value, allusions...
b. observed behaviour: judge, debate, evaluating, editorialise, recommend

However, since 1998/99, Bloom's taxonomy has been officially revised and now we have...

The new-look taxonomy, although very similar, also has some very distinctive changes.

Look at the table below and you will see that most of the definitions have changed from nouns to verbs, and furthermore, they have been usurped by more user-friendly terms which can be understood by not only teachers, but indeed, students as well.




Recalling the information


Explain the ideas and/or concepts


Using the newly acquired knowledge in another familiar situation


Comparing and differentiating between constituent parts.


Justifying a decision or course of action


Generating new new ways of creating products, ideas or ways of viewing things

Note that in addition to the actual title changes, there is also a shift in the Taxonomy order, with Synthesis (replaced with Create) now becoming the last component of the Taxonomy.
Because it is now suggested that it is more appropriate to
Evaluate first, and then, based upon that evaluation, go the next step and create new ideas.

(This new information is adapted from an article by M. Pohl - 1999)

The Revised Bloom in practice

Below is an example of how Bloom's taxonomy, in it's revised format, can be used in the classroom.

I will actually be using this myself during my final practicum and each section of Bloom's taxonomy will be listed on a separate poster, displayed in the classroom, that will detail the two learning foci, namely - Food Advertising and Nutrition

This is part of an eight-week unit in the key learning of the Arts, that will focus mainly on the Media influence on our eating and dietary habits.

Students will be choosing activities from the posters as part of a point system they need to fulfil in this unit.

The low-order thinking tasks, (that is, Remember, Understand, and Apply) will earn 1, 2 and 3 points respectively, while the high-order thinking tasks will earn 5 for Analyse and Evaluate and 6 for Create.


Food Advertising



(Factual answers, recall and recognition)

List 10 advertisements that use women's bodies to sell their food products.

Describe what the advertisers use in the Hungry Jacks advertisement to sell their products.

Name 10 food advertisements that make junk food look like it is healthy and good food.

Name the food groups and at least two items of food in each group

List 12 items that would go in the Bread group.

Make an acrostic poem about healthy food


(Translating, interpreting, showing understanding)

Explain why advertisements use music to sell their food products

Outline in your own words how the Leggo's Tomato Paste advertisement sells their product.

What was the main idea behind the Magnum ice-cream advertisement?

Cut out ten healthy items from food packages or magazines and paste them under a heading of healthy foods in your Media book

Write a simple menu for breakfast, lunch or dinner using the food guide chart

Make a healthy food colouring book suitable for 5 year old children


(Using information gained in different, familiar situations)

Which factors would you change if you had to redo the Campbell's soup advertisement?

Construct a script for Uncle Toby's Muesli Bars using a completely different theme.

What 6 questions would you ask if you had to interview the advertisers of Milo about their product? The questions need to find out information for your school and whether or not the product is suitable for the canteen.

Find some photos which would best describe how you feel because of what you eat.

Write a one page example of how you would teach about the new food guide. Include your resources.

What would you ask shoppers in a supermarket if you were doing a survey of what food they eat? (10 questions)


(Break into parts to examine more closely)

Compare two dog food commercials. What is the difference between them and how do they both sell their products?

Write a new commercial for Mars Bar that tells only the truth but will still sell them effectively.

Design a questionnaire about coffee or tea that you can ask of ten people for a report to give to your advertiser so that they can then decide how to sell their product.

Design a questionnaire that would gather enough information to know how to stock the canteen with a wide variety of healthy food.

Write a biography about an important person in the food industry.

Prepare a report about what the people in this class eat for breakfast


(Judge, use criteria, rank and substantiate)

Do you think it is a good or bad thing that advertising uses women's bodies to sell products? Why?

How would you handle it if you had made the Magnum ice-cream advertisement and you received many complaints from the public?

Write a letter to Hungry Jacks explaining why you think their advertising is false and misleading.

 Make a booklet about 10 important eating habits that would be suitable for the whole school to follow in order to eat correctly.

Conduct a debate with two teams of 3 in each team about why advertising is wrong to use women's bodies to sell its products.

Write a letter to Sanitarium asking if they would be able to help you with some research into how they make Weetbix, how many they sell and one other fact.


(Combining information to new situations to create new products, ideas, etc.)

Create a new food product, Give it a name and detail how you will advertise it.

Design a 30 second radio advertisement about a new food product you have made.

Construct a poster that will advertise your new food product in an exciting and irresistible way.

Design a healthy menu that you think most people would enjoy using the healthy eating guide.

Create a song and dance to sell bananas.

 Design a canteen of the future that will only sell /serve healthy foods. What sort of signs and logos would it use?

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