Bloom’s Taxonomy Explained: A Refresher Course

Get a refresher course on Bloom's Taxonomy with this post
Contributed By

Alexis Roesser

English Teacher and Department Chair for Salamanca High School

Bloom’s Taxonomy Explained: A Refresher Course

Posted in Pro Tips | June 17, 2019

When's the last time you really had a chance to dive into Bloom's Taxonomy? The phrase and concept probably hearkens back to your college days when you were just beginning classes on education, how students learn, and what structures lessons and units need to employ in order to effectively teach learners. If it's been a while since you've examined these structures, we're here to bring you the epic guide to Bloom's Taxonomy. This refresher will help bring these terms, concepts, and framework back to the forefront of your lesson planning because even though it's been around since the 1950's, it's still good, quality pedagogy.

Bloom's Taxonomy Explained

As outlined in its original 1956 framework, Bloom's Taxonomy was created to dissect specific levels of knowledge acquisition and usage that students will move through to thoroughly understand a concept or topic. Revised in 2001, the framework moved away from "objectives" towards "classifications," which works more effectively in the dynamic environment of a classroom. The levels here move from the bottom of the pyramid, which means that these are the broadest and most general levels of understanding, to the top of the pyramid which requires a complex and rigorous depth of comprehension:

  • Remember: This base level of the pyramid includes recalling basic concepts, with the ability to state, repeat, or memorize facts.
  • Understand: The next step on the pyramid is understanding, which is where learners can explain ideas or concepts. This is where students use skills such as interpretation, classification, comparison, synthesis, and inferring.
  • Apply: This middle level of the pyramid is when students can use information in new situations, such as executing solutions to problems, implementing action plans, or sketching ideas based on prior knowledge.
  • Analyze: This upper level of Bloom's Taxonomy is when students can draw connections between ideas, differentiate contrasting opinions or viewpoints, examine new evidence, and conduct experiments to determine the validity of an idea or hypothesis.
  • Evaluate: The penultimate level of Bloom's Taxonomy is when students are able to justify a position or decision, critique differing viewpoints, and select valued ideas and research that supports a specific point of view.
  • Create: The peak of the pyramid is the creation of original student work, where learners can design and assemble, as well as investigate, author, and generate new ideas.

What is Affective Domain?

The affective domain deals with our feelings and emotions, including how we deal with enthusiasm, rejection, praise, and others' attitudes. In the realm of Bloom's Taxonomy, the affective domain encourages students to not only receive, remember, and understand information, but to interact with it in a personal and meaningful way. This requires a reflexive and responsive approach to education that is more than simply "skill and drill" information.

Here, student engagement is key in order to activate the affective domain and unlock higher levels of Bloom's Taxonomy. For example, instead of having students memorize the preamble of the Constitution, allow students to debate whether or not our country has held true to each of these ideals through its history. This type of meaningful interaction is when students learn that they can use learned information within their own schema, and interact with topics on a more personal level.

Bloom's Taxonomy Questions

Question stems are critical for educators to see what levels of Bloom's Taxonomy that they hitting. A variety of questions and questioning techniques allow teachers to move throughout the levels of knowledge acquisition and usage, planning in advance for the progression during a lesson or unit to increase rigor. Here are some sample questions that address each level of Bloom's Taxonomy:

Remember

What is....?

Where is…?

Which one…?

Can you list…?

Understand

How would you compare/contrast…?

How would you rephrase…?

What facts or ideas show…?

What is the central idea…?

Apply

How would you use…?

How would you apply…?

"What would result if…?

How would you apply to learn what you develop…?

Analyze

What is the central theme of…?

How would you classify…?

What is the function of…?

What is the relationship between…?

Evaluate

What is your opinion of… and why?

How would you prove…?

How would you rate… and why?

How would you prioritize… and why?

Create

How would you improve…?

What changes would you make to solve…?

How would you have changed the ending of the story if…?

Bloom's Taxonomy Wheel

Bloom's Taxonomy Wheel is an excellent resource for educators looking to find not only academic vocabulary words that will work within that specific level of understanding but also to see what types of skills or assessments are best suited to evaluate the pyramid of knowledge acquisition.

Bloom's Taxonomy Examples

A productive teacher reflection tool is to look back on units and see where lessons and objectives hit each level of Bloom's Taxonomy. This can be a deep dive on questioning techniques, direct explicit instruction, engagement strategies, or assessment methods. For example, a unit in history class on maps needs to include the bottom levels of Bloom's so that students have direct recall and knowledge of states, oceans, and boundaries. To stretch to the upper levels of evaluation and creation, students can create their own maps of the United States or local regions based on what they think would be reasonable, realistic parameters, using this logic to create a map key.

Every level of Bloom's Taxonomy is relevant to a child's learning and understanding of new material, and revisiting the key parameters of this well-tested framework is a great reflective practice for teachers no matter their level of experience.

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