Revisiting Bloom’s Taxonomy— An overview

We have talked about learning outcomes and educational goals and how to achieve them in several of our previous articles. In this article I am going to discuss the theoretical device widely applied to direct pedagogy, evaluation of learning outcomes and curriculum designing— Bloom’s Taxonomy.

It is pertinent to point out that while reviewing the material available on-line on the subject, meant for Indian audience, I came across video tutorials poorly scripted so much so that they sounded not only inaccurate and pretentious but preposterous, which compelled me to reflect on the subject. No doubt, the lectures I am referring to were not the mainstream teacher-training lectures, nonetheless, they were widely viewed and it is safe to assume that the majority of the audience would have been that of the CTET and TET candidates, who by the way ,must have a degree/diploma in education already. If the viewership of these sub-standard yet expedient material is anything to go by, the methods of teacher training, and more so, in the evaluation of merit have been compromised.

The curriculum solutions that we have dealt with in detail in our previous article invariably employ precepts of Bloom’s taxonomy besides other educational philosophies. This is amply evident in their teaching models and learning designs—digital and otherwise. The discriminatory factor is the proficiency with which the curriculum designers and endorsers employ it and the efficiency with which they train the teachers to use it. Popularity of ready- made curriculum solutions and purported convenience of their application notwithstanding, equipped with comprehension of bloom’s taxonomy, solid subject knowledge and some experience and imaginativeness, teachers can design highly productive lesson plans and even curriculum.

What is Bloom’s Taxonomy?

It is the classification—taxonomy—of the learning objectives and teaching goals. It is modeled as a hierarchy of skills that are to be sequentially acquired in the course of working on any given subject or lesson for comprehensive learning. The taxonomy covers three domains—cognitive, affective and psychomotor.

Every skill in the hierarchy is spelled out into verbs which aid in explaining the use of that particular skill.

There are three specific domains of the bloom’s taxonomy, which are discussed as under--

The cognitive domain—Knowledge-based

The six elements in this domain include Remembering, Understanding or Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Creation and Evaluation. It’s a hierarchy hence it is represented as a pyramid with each element occupying a level; the above listed elements being in a bottom -to -top level sequence.

Remembering, the element at the base level of the pyramid implies the knowledge of the topic or more precisely, familiarity. This equips the learner with the fact which may not necessarily be accompanied by understanding of the concept that underlay the fact. For example the question “when did the Second World War start?” demands an answer when the answerer is perhaps devoid of any information save the date or the calendar year, which is a plain fact to be remembered, therefore requires the skill of remembering.

Understanding, the next skill is comprehending the topic under study. It involves interpretation, organizing the facts, providing description.

Example—how the outbreak of the Second World War connectible to the First World War?

Application, the step that succeeds understanding involves applying the knowledge of facts and comprehension to solve intricate problems or answer questions that involve the understanding of the rules, techniques, and laws.

Example—what could have prevented, in your view, the Second World War?

Analysis is the element of organized learning that is stipulated to follow the acquisition of the skill of application. It involves the development of discretion to differentiate, select, and segregate, identifying interrelations, drawing inferences and projection. For example---the Second World War had fundamental differences and consequences when compared to the First World War, comment.

Creation that succeeds Analysis involves synthesis of facts and ideas i.e. arriving at the whole by synthesis of discreet parts by finding the underlying dynamics between them.

Example: What geopolitical measures can avoid international conflicts like the Second World War?

Evaluation, the highest element in the hierarchy, involves examining the authenticity of opinions and assigning value to them. It calls for the ability to examine the opinions in the light of facts and evidences and reaching conclusions by making judgments.

Example: Far-reaching consequences of the Second World War have prevented the outbreak of the third global conflagration. Do you agree with the above statement?

As stated earlier, each of these skills have been spelled out in some defining the list of which can be availed at

List of Verbs

The above discussion pertains to the first of the three domains of the taxonomy, namely, the cognitive domain.

The second domain of the taxonomy is the affective domain, discussed as under--

The affective domain (emotion-based)

The affective domain involves the skills that are attributable to the emotional response to the knowledge attained. Attitude, empathy, interests, self-awareness and other traits develop through emotional processing of information. The elements in the hierarchy of affective domain include-- from bottom -to -top-- receiving, responding, valuing organizing and characterizing.

Receiving involves primary reception of instruction. However passive the reception, it is imperative for learning to progress. It may only tentatively engage the memory in some students, depending upon the factors like attention span.

Responding is the next level of the domain. It comprises of higher involvement of the students. Inquiries and responsive gestures surface. There are cues for the educator to follow as well as overt expression of interest.

Valuing is the skill of assigning value to learning or information. It is integral to learning and involves the development of interests and intellectual predispositions.

Organizing—this skill enables the formation and development of value system. The information is assigned to cognitive categories. Psychological prototypes, stereotypes are also formed through organization guided by emotional experiences. It plays a major role in perception and orientation of memory and problem solving.

Characterization—when this level is reached the ability of abstraction develops. The usage of metaphors and other signs of abstract thinking manifest. Consolidation of information into concepts occurs at this level.

The third domain of the bloom’s taxonomy is the psychomotor domain, discussed as under--

The Psychomotor Domain (action-based)

Although not postulated by Harvard Bloom originally, the subcategories of this domain have been forwarded since. The domain relates to the manipulation of space through physical action coupled with ideation and use of tools. The skill subcategories include—

Perception— it involves the ability to describe the surrounding space and distinguish the dimensions and making a deliberate choice of motor activity to solve the spatial problems like throwing a ball towards a chosen target or catching a ball, stirring a beverage in a glass without spilling, identifying patterns etc.

Set—it involves the readiness to act, react and interact with the surrounding and also the emotional readiness to interact with the spatial surrounding initiation of tasks and displaying interest are included in this subcategory. Knowing the constraints of physical action and motivation to act are also chief skills.

Guided Response—learning by imitating, correcting the result by trying differently and identifying the need for practice in the process is included in this skill-set.

Mechanism—it is the stage where basic proficiency is reached in complex skills. The advance towards expertise is through learning to assemble or dismantle, calibrate, measure with accuracy, attach or detach.

Complex Overt Response—at this stage the degree of accomplishment in doing complex tasks using complex coordination of psychomotor skills is significant. The early signs of perfecting skills like dancing and adapting its various forms, calibrating machines with precision etc. are included in the skill-set of this stage.

Adaptation—as the name itself suggests, it includes revising one’s own psychomotor responses according to the changes in the nature of problems and situations. Readjusting one’s responses to suit the need of the changed spatial context is included and perfected in this stage.

Origination—this is the culmination stage where novelty in the psychomotor skills and spatial ideation emerges. Creating novel patterns and inventing devices to solve problems, imagining solutions to spatial problems and translating them into coordinated action is included in this stage. It would include composing musical notes, devising machines or processes, inventive photography or abstract painting etc.

It can easily be observed that Bloom’s taxonomy strikingly resonates with the theory of multiple intelligences. Its affective domain, for instance, clearly indicates that the stimulus for interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence, and the psychomotor domain testifies the application of bodily-kinesthetic intelligence to a greater degree.

The cognitive domain of the taxonomy has highly been emphasized sometimes at the expense of the other two domains as they are perceived to be remote form the ambit of the conventional classroom teaching or academics. However, elements of progressive education have succeeded in drawing the attention of the quality curriculum designers towards the need of eschewing such narrowing of usage of the taxonomy of educational objectives and outcomes.

Vinod Kakumanu

Vinod Kakumanu

Founder & Consultant - School Serv

Vinod Kakumanu heads a team of school services professionals and is an independent commentator on Indian school education scenario. Vinod has assisted school promoters establish 35+ schools besides providing ancillary services to over 1000 schools across India. He envisions a future where quality education is made available to every child of the country. The focus he places on the quality of the deliverables and customer satisfaction has made him renowned in the field of K-12 school education.

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