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8.2: What is Bloom’s Taxonomy?

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    What is Bloom’s Taxonomy?

    Understanding that “taxonomy” and “classification” are synonymous helps dispel uneasiness with the term. Bloom’s Taxonomy is a multi-tiered model of classifying thinking according to six cognitive levels of complexity. Throughout the years, the levels have often been depicted as a stairway, leading many teachers to encourage their students to “climb to a higher (level of) thought”.

    The lowest three levels are: knowledge, comprehension, and application. The highest three levels are: analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. “The taxonomy is hierarchical; [in that] each level is subsumed by the higher levels. In other words, a student functioning at the ‘application’ level has also mastered the material at the ‘knowledge’ and ‘comprehension’ levels.” (UW Teaching Academy, 2003). One can easily see how this arrangement led to natural divisions of lower and higher level thinking.

    Clearly, Bloom’s Taxonomy has stood the test of time. Due to its long history and popularity, it has been condensed, expanded, and reinterpreted in a variety of ways. Research findings have led to the discovery of a veritable smörgåsbord of interpretations and applications falling on a continuum ranging from tight overviews to expanded explanations. Nonetheless, one recent revision (designed by one of the co-editors of the original taxonomy along with a former Bloom student) merits particular attention.

    Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy (RBT)

    During the 1990’s, a former student of Bloom’s, Lorin Anderson, led a new assembly which met for the purpose of updating the taxonomy, hoping to add relevance for 21st century students and teachers. This time “representatives of three groups [were present]: cognitive psychologists, curriculum theorists and instructional researchers, and testing and assessment specialists” (Anderson, & Krathwohl, 2001, p. xxviii).

    Like the original group, they were also arduous and diligent in their pursuit of learning, spending six years to finalize their work. Published in 2001, the revision includes several seemingly minor yet actually quite significant changes. Several excellent sources are available which detail the revisions and reasons for the changes. A more concise summary appears here. The changes occur in three broad categories: terminology, structure, and emphasis.

    Terminology changes

    Changes in terminology between the two versions are perhaps the most obvious differences and can also cause the most confusion. Basically, Bloom’s six major categories were changed from noun to verb forms. Additionally, the lowest level of the original, knowledge was renamed and became remembering. Finally, comprehension and synthesis were retitled to understanding and creating. In an effort to minimize the confusion, comparison images appear below.

    Bloom's table

    Figure \(\PageIndex{2}\): Terminology changes “The graphic is a representation of the NEW verbiage associated with the long familiar Bloom’s Taxonomy. Note the change from Nouns to Verbs [e.g., Application to Applying] to describe the different levels of the taxonomy. Note that the top two levels are essentially exchanged from the Old to the New version.” (Schultz, 2005) (Evaluation moved from the top to Evaluating in the second from the top, Synthesis moved from second on top to the top as Creating.). (Copyright; Lorin Anderson via Carnegie Mellon University)


    The new terms are defined as:

    • Remembering: Retrieving, recognizing, and recalling relevant knowledge from long-term memory.
    • Understanding: Constructing meaning from oral, written, and graphic messages through interpreting, exemplifying, classifying, summarizing, inferring, comparing, and explaining.
    • Applying: Carrying out or using a procedure through executing, or implementing.
    • Analyzing: Breaking material into constituent parts, determining how the parts relate to one another and to an overall structure or purpose through differentiating, organizing, and attributing.
    • Evaluating: Making judgments based on criteria and standards through checking and critiquing.
    • Creating: Putting elements together to form a coherent or functional whole; reorganizing elements into a new pattern or structure through generating, planning, or producing.
      (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001, pp. 67-68)

    Structural changes

    Structural changes seem dramatic at first, yet are quite logical when closely examined. Bloom’s original cognitive taxonomy was a one-dimensional form. With the addition of products, the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy takes the form of a two-dimensional table.

    One of the dimensions, identifies The Knowledge Dimension (or the kind of knowledge to be learned) while the second identifies The Cognitive Process Dimension (or the process used to learn).

    Each of the four Knowledge Dimension levels is subdivided into either three or four categories (e.g. Factual is divided into Factual, Knowledge of Terminology, and Knowledge of Specific Details and Elements). The Cognitive Process Dimension levels are also subdivided with the number of sectors in each level ranging from a low of three to a high of eight categories. For example, Remember is subdivided into the three categories of Remember, Recognizing, and Recalling while the Understanding level is divided into eight separate categories.

    The resulting grid, containing 19 subcategories is most helpful to teachers in both writing objectives and aligning standards with curricular. The “Why” and “How” sections of this chapter further discuss use of the Taxonomy Table as well as provide specific examples of applications.

    Bloom's Taxonomy The Cognitive Process and Knowledge Dimension Chart

    Table \(\PageIndex{1}\): Bloom's Taxonomy. (Dianna Fisher, via Oregon State University, Extended Campus )

    Go to this following website and click on the verbs and see examples of learning objectives

    Changes in emphasis

    Emphasis is the third and final category of changes. As noted earlier, Bloom himself recognized that the taxonomy was being “unexpectedly” used by countless groups never considered an audience for the original publication. The revised version of the taxonomy is intended for a much broader audience. Emphasis is placed upon its use as a “more authentic tool for curriculum planning, instructional delivery and assessment” (oz-TeacherNet, 2001).

    8.2: What is Bloom’s Taxonomy? is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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