Blooms Taxonomy: How Can It Help You Design Better Online Courses?

Bloom's Taxonomy is a framework created by Benjamin Bloom, an educational psychologist, to guide educators in structuring their teaching and creating meaningful learning experiences for students. Here we look at the basics and why it is important for educators to familiarise themselves with this taxonomy.
Blooms Taxonomy - How Can It Help You Design Online Courses?

This post will introduce Bloom’s Taxonomy and how this framework still provides educators a valuable tool to structure their teaching and create meaningful learning experiences.
To better understand Bloom’s Taxonomy, let’s look closely at its creator.


Who was Benjamin Bloom?

Benjamin Bloom (1913-1999) was an educational psychologist. In 1956, Benjamin Bloom and a group of psychologists published “Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals.”, where they introduced the taxonomy, which has since become a fundamental guide in the field of education. Course designers have used it for almost 70 years to write better learning outcomes.
Bloom’s work has profoundly impacted curriculum development, instructional design, and assessment strategies.

What is Bloom’s taxonomy?

Bloom’s taxonomy is the classification or terminology related to writing learning outcomes for training courses. Following this classification helps ensure that learning outcomes are clear and measurable.
According to Bloom’s Taxonomy, learning is a sequential or hierarchical process, and learning-related changes in knowledge, skills, attitudes, behaviours, and abilities are identifiable.
His taxonomy is often presented as a pyramid. Learning at the higher levels depends on having attained prerequisite knowledge and skills at lower levels. There is a progression in the learner’s progress. The student starts by remembering facts and, at a higher level, can create new ideas based on the acquired knowledge.

The pyramid representing the Original Bloom's Taxonomy levels from 1956

In this pyramid, we see  Knowledge as the foundation of any learning. Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis and Evaluation can follow after that. Each level above builds upon the previous one.

Is Bloom’s taxonomy still relevant?

Yes, it is still very relevant. Over the last decades, as technology has entered our lives, the original taxonomy was revised to better align with the new ways of learning and teaching. The taxonomy is still a very effective tool for active learning in today’s academic environment.

Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy

In 2001, a group of researchers led by Bloom’s colleague David Krathwohl and one of Bloom’s students, Lorin Anderson, revised the original taxonomy. They replaced nouns with action verbs to provide learners with more precise instructional goals and curriculum designers with a clearer roadmap. The revised version emphasises the action verbs associated with each level. For example, comprehension or understanding is not just recalling information but requires students to explain, summarise, or restate concepts in their own words. Activities at this level include describing, summarising, or translating ideas.

 

The pyramid representing the Revised Bloom's Taxonomy levels from 2001

The revised learning stages are Remember,  Understand,  Apply, Analyse, Evaluate and Create.

Lets Look closer at the revised taxonomy and its levels. The graphic below illustrates revised taxonomy levels and what they involve. You can also select taxonomy headings on the list  below the graphic to read that detailed explanation. 

Revised Taxonomy Levels explained

Putting elements together to form a coherent or functional whole; reorganizing elements into a new pattern or structure through generating, planning, or producing.

Making judgments based on criteria and standards through checking and critiquing.

Breaking material into constituent parts, determining how the parts relate to one another and an overall structure or purpose through differentiating, organising, and attributing.

Carrying out or using a procedure for executing or implementing.

 

Constructing meaning from oral, written, and graphic messages through interpreting, exemplifying, classifying, summarizing, inferring, comparing, and explaining.

Retrieving, recognising, and recalling relevant knowledge from long‐term memory.

How does Bloom’s Taxonomy help in learning design?

 

By using Bloom’s Taxonomy, educators can:

  • Set clear learning objectives: The taxonomy helps educators define specific learning outcomes and determine the level of cognitive skills they want students to achieve.
  • Design effective learning material: Educators can create instructional activities and materials that align with specific levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, ensuring a balanced approach that promotes both foundational knowledge and higher-order thinking.
  • Foster critical thinking: Bloom’s Taxonomy encourages students to engage in critical thinking, problem-solving, and creative thinking, fostering a deeper understanding of the subject matter.
  • Assess learning effectively: The taxonomy provides a framework for designing assessments that align with the desired learning outcomes. Educators can create varied assessment tasks that evaluate students’ understanding.
  • Create progressive learning experiences: The taxonomy helps create well-rounded programmes, enabling learners to progress smoothly from lower-order thinking to higher-order thinking skills.

 

The original taxonomy is still used and referred to, but in my experience, it is the revised one that has been used more often in recent years.

Check these posts if you are interested in a more detailed exploration of Bloom’s Taxonomy action verbs and the different Bloom’s taxonomy levels. 

Action Verbs: Get the cheat sheet to write better learning outcomes

Action Verbs: Get the cheat sheet to write better learning outcomes

Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy Explained: Levels, Sample Outcomes and Activities

Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy Explained: Levels, Sample Outcomes and Activities

Blooms Taxonomy: How Can It Help You Design Better Online Courses?

Blooms Taxonomy: How Can It Help You Design Better Online Courses?

How to Write Learning Objectives for Online Courses

How to Write Learning Objectives for Online Courses

References

  1. Wikimedia Foundation. (2023, July 10). Bloom’s taxonomy. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloom’s_taxonomy

  2. Krahtwohl, L. W., & Anderson, D. R. (2013). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing. Pearson Higher Education.

  3. Bloom’s taxonomy of measurable verbs – utica college. (n.d.). https://www.utica.edu/academic/Assessment/new/Blooms Taxonomy – Best.pdf

  4. 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/

  5. 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/

  6. Shabatura , J. (2014, September 18). Bloom’s taxonomy verb chart. Teaching Innovation and Pedagogical Support. https://tips.uark.edu/blooms-taxonomy-verb-chart/

  7. Andreev, I. (2023, May 17). Bloom’s taxonomy: Revised levels, verbs for objectives [2023]. Valamis. https://www.valamis.com/hub/blooms-taxonomy

  8. Blooms taxonomy :: Resource for educators. Blooms Taxonomy :: Resource for Educators. (n.d.). https://bloomstaxonomy.net/

  9. Wikimedia Foundation. (2023a, March 6). Benjamin Bloom. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Bloom

  10. Persaud, C. (2021, February 25). Ultimate Guide to implementing bloom’s taxonomy in your course. Top Hat. https://tophat.com/blog/blooms-taxonomy/

Note, that this post provides general information about Blooms Taxonomy.

It is important always to consider the specific context and requirements of your learning projects. If you have any questions or would like to delve deeper into the topic, please email me or book a free online consultation via my contact page.

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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. 

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