The framework was initially published in the Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals (Bloom, Engelhart, Furst, Hill, & Krathwohl, 1956) and subsequently expanded on. It is fundamentally concerned with learning objectives, and the activities students undertake in the process of learning. This classification scheme has underpinned approaches to education at all levels for over half a century.
Benjamin Bloom, who sounds like a Brother’s Grimm creation or a Marvel superhero alias, was, rather, an education psychologist who was interested in the cognitive processes of learning. He developed the taxonomy in 1956, in an effort to provide a common language for the sharing of resources and examinations across universities.
Fast forward to 2001 and a group of scholars (including Bloom’s former student and one of the original co-authors) updated the work in A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001). ‘Bloom’s Taxonomy’ used to refer to the original, while ‘Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy’ refers to the 2001 version – though if you just drop a cheeky “Bloom’s” people will generally catch your 2001 vibe.
Krathwohl, the original co-author and co-editor of the revised version, followed up with an overview in 2002, on which this summary is based.
The Revised Taxonomy works on two dimensions: a cognitive dimension (expressed as actions/verbs), and a knowledge dimension. The cognitive scale follows a rough hierarchical order (although there is some overlap), with complexity generally increasing as the objectives move from left to right, and from concrete to more abstract.
The six cognitive groupings of Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy are:
Retrieving relevant knowledge from long-term memory.
Determining the meaning of instructional messages, including oral, written, and graphic communication
Carrying out or using a procedure in a given situation
Breaking material into its constituent parts and detecting how the parts relate to one another and to an overall structure or purpose.
Making judgments based on criteria and standards.
Putting elements together to form a novel, coherent whole or make an original product.
When learning objectives are expressed in a sentence, they usually include one of these verbs (the cognitive process), and also refer to a noun (the area of application.) Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy groups these subjects into four categories on the knowledge dimension. These are:
|A. FACTUAL KNOWLEDGE
The basic elements that students
must know to be acquainted with a discipline
or solve problems in it.
|Aa. Knowledge of terminology
Ab. Knowledge of specific details and elements
|B. CONCEPTUAL KNOWLEDGE
among the basic elements within a larger structure
that enable them to function together.
|Ba. Knowledge of classifications and categories
Bb. Knowledge of principles and generalizations
Bc. Knowledge of theories, models, and structures
|C. PROCEDURAL KNOWLEDGE
How to do something; methods
of inquiry, and criteria for using skills, algorithms,
techniques, and methods.
|Ca. Knowledge of subject-specific skills and algorithms
Cb. Knowledge of subject-specific techniques and
Cc. Knowledge of criteria for determining when
to use appropriate procedures
|D. METACOGNITIVE KNOWLEDGE
Knowledge of cognition
in general as well as awareness and knowledge of
one’s own cognition.
|Da. Strategic knowledge
Db. Knowledge about cognitive tasks, including
appropriate contextual and conditional
One use of this process is to visually map out the distribution of objectives over learning activities, assessments, subjects and courses. Placed on a two-dimensional table with the cognitive process on one axis and the knowledge domain on the other, learning objectives can categorized.
For example, the Bachelor of Accounting at UTS has the Course Intended Learning Outcome (CILO):
5.1 Apply technical and professional skills necessary to operate effectively in business and related professions
Breaking this down, “Apply” belongs to the cognitive grouping:
3. APPLY – Carrying out or using a procedure in a given situation,
while “technical and professional skills” belongs to the knowledge grouping:
1. PROCEDURAL KNOWLEDGE – How to do something; methods of inquiry, and criteria for using skills, algorithms, techniques, and methods.
This objective 5.1 would be mapped to 3C:
|1. Remember||2. Understand||3. Apply||4. Analyse||5. Evaluate||6. Create|
|A. Factual Knowledge|
|B. Conceptual Knowledge|
|C. Procedural Knowledge||X|
|D. Metacognitive Knowledge|
Mapping out all objectives in this way can quickly show areas of emphasis, gaps, or competencies to improve, to ensure an even and holistic spread of learning outcomes at the different levels of analysis.
However, the Revised Taxonomy is also useful as a general reference when it comes to developing your subject, and building out learning activities and assessments. It’s good practice to consider all of the resources and activities you build into your lessons, and ask yourself: why am I setting this? What do I expect my students to do with this, and what will they get out of it? Thinking in terms of cognitive processes (verbs) and knowledge domains (nouns) can help you clarify your objectives, and how the activity supports them.
In addition to helping you design stronger activities more closely aligned to your intended outcomes, providing this information to students – contextualizing readings and other activities, is a useful tool in building metacritical knowledge. In other words, making this design visible and explicit can help students recognize their own learning and learning processes.
Articles in The Quick Study (sadly sans-flowers):
- Anderson, L.W., Krathwohl, D.R., Airasian, P.W., Cruikshank, K.A., Mayer, R.E., Pintrich, P.R., Raths, J. and Wittrock, M.C., 2001, A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives, abridged edition, White Plains, NY: Longman
- Bloom, B.S. (Ed.), Engelhart, M.D., Furst, E.J., Hill, W.H., & Krathwohl, D.R., 1956, Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals. Handbook 1: Cognitive domain, New York: David McKay
- Krathwohl, D., “A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy: An overview”, Theory into practice, 41.4 (2002): 212-218