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Bloom’s Taxonomy

Bloom’s taxonomy has been around since 1956. Bloom and his colleagues developed six knowledge categories to help frame learning, which include knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. This model has stood the test of time in most part because Bloom’s team tapped into cognitive principles. In 2001, a coalition of learning professionals and cognitive psychologists gathered to update Bloom’s model to match emerging scientific principles, aligning and renaming the six areas of learning.  The revised categories are: remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, and create.  In this article, we’re going to take a quick look at these revised categories.

Remember

In this category we focus on memorization of things, like names and places. For example, 4 + 4 = 8, that my anniversary is May 17th or that I parked on the third floor of the parking garage in row 4.  We don’t care why, just that we have them in our minds and can recall them.

Understand

Here we start to make sense of the information. We are able to do things like infer, summarize, and interpret the information. For example, I am doing addition in the previous example. Or an anniversary is when an event happened, like when I got married.

Apply

In this area we start to use the information and knowledge in new but similar ways. Continuing with the math example to make change or balance a checkbook. Here we begin applying it to solve a problem in the world around us.

Analyze

I like to think of this area as the ‘how does it work?’ portion. We take things down to their smallest part and try to see what makes it function. From that knowledge, we generate new uses for that information. Continuing with the math example, making change or balancing a checkbook are examples of applying knowledge

Evaluate

The key here is to think critically and judge to come up with a conclusion. Then, either validate or disprove what is being studied. You can ask yourself, “Does this do what I expected?  Can I reproduce the results over and over again?”

Create

In this final step, use what you have learned to create something new that has never been thought of or discovered before. I suspect most of us are stuck in the first three levels. I know that sometimes we don’t need to go to such length in our trainings. I also feel that we do a disservice to customers if we don’t point them in the right direction to begin to think in the higher levels.

What do you think of Bloom’s taxonomy? Do you use it in your trainings? If so, what has worked or not? As always please leave a comment in the field below.

Steve leads the Learning & Professional Development team, with over a decade of Instructional Design and professional development experience in higher education at Northern Arizona University.

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