What is Bloom’s Taxonomy?

By Keith Michael Howard | Last Updated: October 20, 2021

In the 1940s, there was a huge push in the American education system to standardize teaching and learning. A result of this change was the creation of Bloom’s taxonomy, which is a classification system that categorizes, orders, and provides objectives to different levels of learning. The goal of creating Bloom’s taxonomy was to allow educators to easily communicate and observe what level of thinking students were engaged in.

In simple terms, the taxonomy maps the 6 different cognitive domains that students will progress through as they absorb new knowledge and eventually apply it to the creation of something new.

Bloom’s Taxonomy is a widely adopted and popular framework from classifying and identifying when students are utilizing shallow learning (lower-order thinking skills) to deep learning (higher-order thinking skills) via teacher observations of students’ actions while learning or by the language they use.

In some ways, the taxonomy was a breakthrough as it allowed education researchers, instructional designers, and teachers to plan their lessons and courses with a focus on students’ mental processes with an emphasis on promoting higher-order thinking skills.

The 6 Levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy

The bottom level is memorizing information. After that is understanding, then applying, then analyzing, then evaluating, and creating is at the top.

Level one is Remembering.

This level is just memorizing information verbatim. A student is told to study something and they memorize all the information.

The second level is Understanding.

Not only at this point do students remember what they studied, but they can restate it. At this level, students will be able to put the information into their own words and successfully explain the concept to another person that may or may not be familiar with it.

The third level is Applying.

Now, students are not only able to remember and explain the new knowledge in their own words – but they can also use it to solve problems or answer questions that they have never seen before. The information is no longer isolated in its original format and the core concepts can now be applied to other situations by the learner.

The fourth level is Analyzing.

Analyzing means that learners can take apart the main components of a concept and explain them individually. Not only do they understand the core information, but they can also describe it’s contributing factors and their importance to the overall concept as a whole.

Level five is Evaluating.

At the evaluating level, students know all this information and can put it in their own words, they can analyze the information, and they can also evaluate the new knowledge against other theories or solutions. Whereas before they knew one idea well, now they are able to determine whether it is still valuable in comparison with another idea.

The last level is Creating.

The final level is when students come up with their own theories,  ideas, or processes about how something should be done.

The Benefits of Using Bloom’s Taxonomy

Having an understanding of this theoretical framework of learning allows teachers to:

The taxonomy allows educators to take a more scientific and standardized approach to gauge the level of understanding students possess with new knowledge.

There are also researchers [1] who suggest that the taxonomy can help classrooms become more student-centered by allowing students to gain awareness and thus control over their own cognitive development.

Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy

In 2010, Churches [2] released an adapted version of Bloom’s Taxonomy that was specifically designed to incorporate education technology tools into developing students’ lower-order and higher-order thinking processes. It is extremely useful for modern educators who are taking a blended learning approach and may feel limited by the traditional language used in the original version of Bloom’s taxonomy.

Conclusion

Theories of learning come and go, often not lasting more than a few years, but Bloom’s Taxonomy has endured for the last 65 years and is still one of the most popular frameworks for observing student cognition.

Its emphasis on promoting higher-order thinking skills and being conscientious of students’ cognition while planning lesson objectives are what make this “ancient” taxonomy one of the most useful planning concepts in modern educators’ armory of pedagogy.

References

[1] Athanassiou, N., McNett, J. M., & Harvey, C. (2003). Critical thinking in the management classroom: Bloom’s taxonomy as a learning tool. Journal of Management Education, 27(5), 533-555. [Google Scholar]

[2] Churches, A. (2010). Bloom’s digital taxonomy. [Google Scholar]

Hi, I'm Keith, an education technology innovator and host of The New Curriculum Specialist. But I wasn’t either of those things 2 years ago. Then 2020 happened. To adapt, I learned a little bit of code and things have really taken off from there. Not that bad for a guy who failed Math 6 times.