Benjamin S. Bloom published his “Taxonomy of Skills” in 1956 for use in an academic context, although it can be adapted to most learning environments. Bloom’s Taxonomy is a hierarchical classification of the six levels of cognitive function and learning. The six levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy are: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.
In 1956, a committee of educators chaired by Bloom developed a formula to help instructional designers classify learning objectives and goals. It began the task by exploring the nature of thinking and how it might be improved.
The first handbook was titled, “Taxonomy of educational objectives: the classification of educational goals.” Along with several more recent revisions, it is widely regarded as a foundational work within the education community.
The initiative created a system of classifying the various goals of the education process by dividing them into three “domains:” cognitive, affective, and psychomotor. It agreed that an educational focus on all three domains would create a more holistic form of learning.
During the 1990s, a new group of psychologists headed by Lorin W. Anderson, updated the taxonomy, including the hierarchical system that proceeds from the most basic conceptual level through continuing levels of complexity. The panel’s revised levels of classification are remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating and creating.
Here is a closer look at the three domains as devised by the Bloom initiative:
1. Cognitive. Skills in the cognitive domain involve knowledge and comprehension, including recall and recognition of facts and concepts. It contains six major categories, listed from simple to complex.
- Knowledge: list, define, tell, describe, identify, show, label, collect, examine, tabulate, quote, name, who, when and where
- Comprehension: summarize, describe, interpret, contrast, predict, associate, distinguish, estimate, differentiate, discuss and extend
- Application: apply, demonstrate, calculate, complete, illustrate, show, solve, examine, modify, relate, change, classify, experiment and discover
- Analysis: analyze, separate, order, explain, connect, classify, arrange, divide, compare, select, explain and infer
- Synthesis: combine, integrate, modify, rearrange, substitute, plan, create, design, invent, compose, formulate, prepare, generalize and rewrite
- Evaluation: assess, decide, rank, grade, test, measure, recommend, convince, select, judge, explain, discriminate, support, conclude, compare and summarize
2. Affective. Skills in this domain depict how individuals relate emotionally to knowledge. They gain feelings, values and attitudes about a given topic and are motivated (or not) about it. There are five major categories around this domain (listed from simple to complex).
- Receiving: Become aware, inquire, choose, follow, identify, locate and reply
- Responding: React to, answer, assist, comply, discuss and report
- Valuing: Complete, differentiate, explain, justify, propose, select and share
- Organizing: Arranging, combine, compare, complete, explain, identify, integrate and modify
- Characterizing: Act, discriminate, modify, perform, practice, quantify, question, revise and verify
3. Psychomotor. Skills in this domain depict the ability to physically utilize an object. The Bloom committee did not specify individual skills, but several subsequent revisions have.
- Perception and awareness: Choose, describe, distinguish, identify, isolate, relate and select
- Set: Begin, display, explain, proceed, react and show
- Guided response: Follow instructions, copy, trace, follow, reproduce and respond
- Mechanism (basic proficiency): Assemble, calibrate, dismantle, fasten, fix, manipulate, measure, mix and organize
- Complex overt response (expertise): Assemble, calibrate, dismantle, fasten, fix and manipulate
- Adaptation (strong independent skills): Adapt, alter, change, rearrange, reorganize and revise
- Origination (creativity): Arrange, build, combine, compose, construct, create, design and originate
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