Effective training programs start with Bloom’s taxonomy.
Most instructional designers are familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy—a classification of learning objectives based in the cognitive (mental), affective (attitude), and psychomotor (physical) domains. The taxonomy was created in 1956 by an educational committee chaired by Benjamin Bloom, an American educational psychologist.
Bloom’s Taxonomy was revised in 2000. Amazingly, the core principles are still relevant today for instructor-led training, elearning, and everything in between. Let’s take a closer look at the original and then examine what has changed.
Under the original Bloom’s Taxonomy, the table of learning objectives for the cognitive domain is the most popular and applies to the development of the following intellectual skills.
- Knowledge: Learner’s ability to recall information
- Comprehension: Learner’s ability to understand information
- Application: Learner’s ability to use information in a new way
- Analysis: Learner’s ability to break down information into its essential parts
- Synthesis: Learner’s ability to create something new from different elements of information
- Evaluation: Learner’s ability to judge or criticize information
In 2000, Bloom’s Taxonomy was revised by Lorin Anderson, a former student of Bloom’s, and David Krathwohl, one of Bloom’s original research partners on cognition. Their hope for the updates was to add relevance for 21st-century students and teachers.
Anderson and Krathwohl’s Taxonomy
- Remembering: Learner’s ability to recall information
- Understanding: Learner’s ability to understand information
- Applying: Learner’s ability to use information in a new way
- Analyzing: Learner’s ability to break down information into its essential parts
- Evaluating: Learner’s ability to judge or criticize information
- Creating: Learner’s ability to create something new from different elements of information
Anderson and Krathwohl Updates
The updates are reflective of a more active thought process and include three main changes:
1. Category names were revised from nouns to verbs.
Anderson and Krathwohl felt that subject matter (noun) and cognitive processes (verb) should be separate dimensions, so they replaced Bloom’s nouns with verbs to reflect the nature of thinking for each category.
2. The last two stages of Bloom’s Taxonomy were switched so that evaluation (evaluating) comes before synthesis (creating).
Anderson and Krathwohl believed that a learner’s ability to evaluate came before his or her ability to synthesize/create and therefore changed the order of these last two categories in Bloom’s Taxonomy.
3. The knowledge (remembering) category was updated to reflect four knowledge dimensions instead of three.
Under the original Bloom’s Taxonomy, the knowledge/remembering category only included three knowledge dimensions: factual (basic elements of knowledge), conceptual (the interrelationships between basic elements of knowledge), and procedural (the “how-to” part of knowledge). With Anderson and Krathwohl’s updates, they added a fourth knowledge dimension: metacognitive (knowledge of cognition and awareness of one’s own cognition).
To learn more about the updates to Bloom’s Taxonomy, check out Anderson and Krathwohl’s book A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives.