5.1 Bloom’s Taxonomy

In 1956, educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom and his associates conceptualized a taxonomy to classify aspects of human learning that included three basic domains: cognitive, affective, and psychomotor. The cognitive domain of this taxonomy represents a continuum of thinking that can be useful for teachers as they develop curricula for students, but also for students as they try to determine what a professor may be asking them to do on a particular test question or writing assignment. Bloom’s Taxonomy can also help students challenge themselves as they are creating active learning study strategies and/ or developing questions for self-testing for an exam. In addition, once students have taken an exam in a particular course, conducting a post-test review of the levels of thinking required by exam questions will provide clues regarding how to effectively study for future exams.


Table 5-1: Bloom’s Taxonomy: Cognitive Domain (1956)
Level of Cognitive Domain Thinking Level Generic Activity Question Cues Sample Questions Example Activities of Products
Remembering Basic thinking (lowest level) Recalls facts, patterns, settings, etc.; remembers previously learned material Cite, label, name, list, state, quote, reproduce, define, identify, describe (who, what, where, when) Who is…?
What is…?
Where is…?
Where was…?
List items. Make a timeline. Recite a passage. List certain memorized facts.
Understanding Basic thinking Understands what is being communicated; grasps the meaning of material and can state in own words; can infer causes and predict consequences Explain, restate, paraphrase, summarize, describe, illustrate, give examples, discuss, distinguish, interpret How would you put this into your own words?
What is an example of _____?
How would you translate ____ to a visual form?
What was the main idea?
Create a flowchart to illustrate the sequence of events. Retell the story in your words. Write a summary.
Applying Higher-level thinking Uses the information in new concrete situations Apply, classify, solve, demonstrate, calculate, illustrate (how it looks in a new situation), complete, employ Can you apply this idea to your own life?
Can you come up with another example?
What does “x” equal in this case?
Use this method to apply to a new case study. Solve different types of math problems.
Analyzing Higher-level thinking Breaks new information into parts to understand relationships; sees patterns and organizational structure Diagram, analyze, diagnose, conclude, outline, separate, explain(relationships), infer, find, classify, discriminate, compare, contrast, why Why did this happen? What were some of the motives behind _____?
What was the problem with _____?
Why did ____ changes occur? Can you explain what happened when _____?
What difference exists between ____ and ____?
Construct a diagram that shows the relationships between the parts. Research the issue to find information that supports a view. Write a biography.
Evaluating Higher-level thinking Make judgement of the value of an idea, method, resource, etc.; assess the value of theories, presentations, texts; make choices based on argument; recognize subjectivity Assess, appraise, critique, judge, weigh, recommend, convince, support, evaluate, rank, decide, select, grade, defend, justify, compare, contrast Is this a good or bad thing? Can you defend your position on ____?
What do you believe and why?
What would you have done differently?
How effective is ____?
What do you think about ____?
Is this a credible source?
Debate an issue from multiple perspectives. State your opinion and evidence for your opinion. Prepare a list of criteria used to judge something and apply it.
Creating Higher-level thinking Creates something new from the elements of the old information; generalizes from given facts; relates knowledge from different areas Create, design, compose, develop, plan, propose, integrate, invent, generalize, combine, rewrite What would happen if ____?
How can we improve ____?
Can you design a ___ to accomplish ___?
How can this idea be combined with that idea to develop a better understanding of ____?
How can we solve questions?
Invent a new machine. Write a story. Compose a new piece of music or work of art. Devise a new way to do something.

Students who challenge themselves to engage in higher-level thinking such as Applying, Analyzing, Evaluating, and Creating are using what professors on our campus would commonly characterize as “critical thinking.”


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