Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives

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Last Update

  • Updated.jpg 1 July 2017


See also Benjamin Bloom | Instructional design models | Media literacy | Teaching library users

Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives - or simply Bloom's Taxonomy - is a classification of different skills that educators set for student learning objectives. Proposed in 1956 by the educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom and a team of cognitive psychologists at the University of Chicago, the taxonomy divides educational objectives into three "domains": cognitive, affective and psychomotor. Like other taxonomies, Bloom's is hierarchical, meaning that learning at the higher levels is dependent on having attained prerequisite knowledge and skills at lower levels. Reigeluth's Elaboration Theory uses the hierarchical levels and their inter-relatedness and inter-dependencies. The main goal of Bloom's Taxonomy is to motivate educators to focus on all three domains, creating a holistic approach to education.

Educators have primarily focused on the cognitive model of the taxonomy, which includes six different classification levels: Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation. Bloom sought to design a logical framework for teaching and learning goals that would help researchers and educators understand the fundamental ways in which people acquire and develop new knowledge, skills, and understandings. Their initial intention was to help academics avoid duplicative or redundant efforts in developing different tests to measure the same educational objectives. The system was originally published under the title Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals, Handbook 1: Cognitive Domain.

Moving to higher order thinking

  • In the early moments of knowledge creation, there is a recall of data - and, natural inclination to recall previously learned material
  • Knowledge, or being told something by a teacher, is a foundation for learning as it provides a basis for higher levels of thinking
  • However, a recall of ideas or information as told by a teacher is rote in nature
  • Comprehension is the ability to grasp meaning, explain, restate ideas. In other words, it means understanding the basic information and translating, interpreting and extrapolating from it. Insight into the application of knowledge is a higher-order skill
  • Application, or using learned material in new situations, involves applying information, ideas and skills to solve problems. What follows is the ability to select and apply appropriately.
  • Analysis is the ability to separate items or material into component parts, finding inter-relationships between parts. It means breaking information and ideas down into components.
  • Synthesis suggests the ability to put together ideas to form a new whole or establish new relationships.
  • Synthesis involves putting together ideas and knowledge in a new and unique form. This is where innovations truly take place.
  • Evaluation is the highest level of the Bloom Taxonomy. It involves the ability to judge the value of ideas against stated criteria. Evaluation involves reviewing and asserting evidence and facts, and making appropriate statements and judgements.

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