Bloom’s Taxonomy

Bloom’s taxonomy presents a classification of learning that helps educators create an effective curriculum. Usually presented as a pyramid, this classification describes levels of learning, from the most basic to the most advanced.

Bloom’s taxonomy was developed in the 1950’s by a group of educators trying to clarify educational objectives and improve communication between educators and curriculum designers. This taxonomy was later updated, and has been a bit controversial. Some more recent criticisms are that the taxonomy is too limited or linear in nature. This did result in a more recent revision of the levels. Even with the criticisms, Bloom’s taxonomy is a foundational piece in any curricular discussion.

The levels are from the most basic to the most advanced: Remember, Understand, Apply, Synthesize and Analyze, Evaluate, and finally, Create. The assignments for students would be designed to elicit this level of learning. For example, a young child might Recognize and Remember that there was an event called WWII. An older student would be asked to demonstrate Understanding of this event; what was it and where did it happen? Students in High School might be asked to apply this knowledge in some way, perhaps by discussing the place of this war in the history of the United States. The next higher level involves Synthesis and Analysis of the information. At this level we would challenge a student to compare and contrast the effect of this war on different countries, or perhaps the reason that United States became involved in the war. Graduate students might be challenged to evaluate the effectiveness of policies and strategies in fighting the war or in the peace process. Finally, an expert on this topic would be able to create something, such as a book or play, presenting the a comparison of ideas and recommending perspectives.

Bloom’s taxonomy, while still a bit controversial, is a wonderful tool to use when designing course curriculum at any educational level. College level students are usually pushed to perform through assignments at the higher levels, which are synthesis, analysis, evaluation, and creation.

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