I wrote several posts about Bloom’s Taxonomy, and a few readers got back to me asking about the ‘action verbs’, so I decided to add another post with a little gift – the action words cheat sheet you could use to write your training materials.
Bloom’s Taxonomy is a hierarchical model that classifies educational objectives into six levels, assuming that we progress from lower-order to higher-order thinking skills as we learn. The term “active word” or “active verb” is not used in the original framework. Neither Bloom’s original book nor his followers’ work contain a list of such verbs. These verbs and verb tables have originated in various studies where researchers identified the most suitable tasks and activities for Bloom’s taxonomy levels.
Learning Objective Statement Structure
When we write your learning objective statement, it usually includes the action (verb) and an object (usually a noun).
- The verb usually refers to the intended cognitive process and actions that learners should perform at each level of learning.
- The object describes the knowledge, skill or competency learners are expected to acquire or construct.
While trainers usually have learning objectives in mind when developing a course, they don’t write them clearly enough. They often leave learners not clear about what to do.
Learning objectives should be free of vague or ambiguous words or phrases. The easiest way to do that is to use Bloom’s taxonomy and “verb tables“. These action verbs tables help describe activities corresponding to educational objectives at each level of Bloom’s Taxonomy and be more specific, actionable and measurable (you can read more about writing learning objectives in this post).
Before I share the Action Verbs Cheat Sheet, let me give you a tip on what verbs to avoid in your learning objectives
Verbs to Avoid in Learning Outcomes
Not all Verbs are suitable. Here is a list of verbs to avoid when creating activities because they may provide a vague and not-measurable outcome. Select the arrow to open the list.
- Become familiar with
- Be aware of
- Get acquainted with
- Be exposed to
- Be conscious of
- Get to know
Instead, use specific, measurable verbs to create clear, actionable learning objectives. If you have to use one of these verbs, try to add additional information about actions associated with the intended outcome. This approach will make assessing whether the desired outcomes have been achieved easier.
Here is an example:
Example of Goal:
Understand the role of impressionism in traditional academic art.
Is this activity clear enough for the learner? Does the student know exactly what needs to be done? How can you measure the learner’s understanding?
Give three examples of how impressionism differed from the traditional academic art in France at the time.
If you have to use one of the not-recommended words, you can try something like this:
Familiarise yourself with the main principles of impressionism and three examples of how impressionism differed from the traditional academic art in France.
As course creators, we should use verbs that demonstrate specific actions or behaviours that can be observed and assessed. Remember, that setting achievable goals will help motivate the learner.
Blooms Taxonomy Action Verbs
Ok, let’s get to the good stuff. Below is a table I have compiled based on several sources. Select the name of the cognitive level to see the list of verbs you can use to write the learning outcomes associated with this level.
A much more detailed version of this active verbs table, containing over 90 active verbs, sample activities and questions is one of the specials in my next newsletter. Make sure to subscribe now so you can get it!
A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing. Pearson Higher Education. Krahtwohl, L. W., & Anderson, D. R. (2013).
Bloom’s Taxonomy 2023: Chart and How to use it https://custom-writing.org/blog/blooms-taxonomy
Bloom’s taxonomy: Revised levels, verbs for objectives . Andreev, I. (2023, May 17). Valamis. https://www.valamis.com/hub/blooms-taxonomy
Blooms taxonomy :: Resource for educators. Blooms Taxonomy :: Resource for Educators. (n.d.). https://bloomstaxonomy.net
Bloom’s taxonomy of measurable verbs – utica college. (n.d.). https://www.utica.edu/academic/Assessment/new/Blooms Taxonomy – Best.pdf
Shabatura, J. (2022, July 26). Using Bloom’s taxonomy to write effective learning outcomes. Teaching Innovation and Pedagogical Support. https://tips.uark.edu/using-blooms-taxonomy/
Shabatura, J. (2022a, July 26). Learning outcomes: Examples and before & after. Teaching Innovation and Pedagogical Support. https://tips.uark.edu/learning-objectives-before-and-after-examples/
Shabatura , J. (2014, September 18). Bloom’s taxonomy verb chart. Teaching Innovation and Pedagogical Support. https://tips.uark.edu/blooms-taxonomy-verb-chart/
Persaud, C. (2021, February 25). Ultimate Guide to implementing bloom’s taxonomy in your course. Top Hat. https://tophat.com/blog/blooms-taxonomy/
Wikimedia Foundation. (2023a, March 6). Benjamin Bloom. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Bloom
Wikimedia Foundation. (2023, July 10). Bloom’s taxonomy. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloom’s_taxonomy
Make sure to check out my other posts related to planning online courses, designing and developing learning content and delivering training. I share strategies and tools that you can use and many practical tips.