Bloom’s Taxonomy: A Framework for Teacher’s & Students

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Credit: eLearning Industry

Bloom's Taxonomy, even though this term may seem unfamiliar to you chances are that you've probably undergone such a form of assessment or that your educational curriculum was designed in such a manner to encompass this method of learning. The main objective of which is to make you specialized in the subject matter of your choice to such a point that you're able to stand your own in a debate, write a thesis or undertake an evaluation of your abilities in the aforementioned subject matter. Bloom's Taxonomy was published in 1956 by Benjamin Bloom with collaborators Max Englehart, Edward Furst, Walter Hill & David Krathwohl as a framework for categorizing educational goals. And has been applied by generations of teachers and college instructors in their teaching.

What is Bloom's Taxonomy?

Bloom's Taxonomy serves as a framework for the assessment of students as they progress through various levels of 'knowledge'. The more knowledge they are imparted with, the more the likelihood of them being able to retain, comprehend and apply said information explicitly. According to Bloom's Taxonomy, there are six levels of cognitive learning, each level being conceptually different. The six levels are Remembering, Understanding, Applying, Analyzing, Evaluating, and Creating. At this point, you might be wondering what this has to do with me as a student. After all, if anything our educational system has taught us it is to simply pass exams, often through rote learning. That is what differentiates a 'Great' student from an 'Outstanding' one and why some students excel more than others. Because quite simply put it is not enough for you to memorize (for example) the names of all the Prime Ministers that India has ever had. What your education and in association your teachers should be focused on is ensuring that you cannot only list all the names of such Prime Ministers but also be able to evaluate and state the contributions of such Politicians to the country as a whole.

The 6 Levels of Bloom's & Why it matters.

As a Student

This is the most basic level of learning and serves as the foundation for the entire taxonomy, quite simply put a student should be able to retrieve, recall or recognize relevant knowledge from long-term memory as and when the need arises.

As a Teacher

There are multiple ways a teacher can assess this basic level of understanding, often by using appropriate 'Verbs' when framing questions. Which can include words such as, (in Italic) cite, define, describe, identify, label, list, match, name, outline, quote, recall, report, reproduce, retrieve, show, state, tabulate and tell. Sounds familiar? That's because it is, teachers as mentioned have been using this method to gauge and assess the ability of their students for generations.



As a Student

Understanding is the second level of learning and takes into account the ability to demonstrate comprehension through one or multiple forms of explanation. This level underlies the need for students to be able to have grasped what has been taught from a comprehension point of view. Quite simply put students should have 'Understand' the subject matter being taught.

As a Teacher

There are several ways that a teacher can estimate the level of understanding a student has on a particular topic. This again is done by using appropriate 'Verbs', such as (in italics) abstract, arrange, articulate, associate, categorize, clarify, classify, compare, compute, conclude, contrast, defend, diagram, differentiate, discuss, distinguish, estimate, exemplify, explain, extend, extrapolate, generalize, give examples of, illustrate, infer, interpolate, interpret, match, outline, paraphrase, predict, rearrange, reorder, rephrase, represent, restate, summarize, transform, and translate.

As a Student

This is the 3rd level and judges the student's ability to apply and/or use information or a skill that they have learned in a new situation (for example) applying a formula to solve a problem. This is a crucial stage just as important as the levels that precede it. Because it is at this stage that a student truly begins to comprehend for himself how much of what he has learned he can put into application. This is why it is at this stage that some students end up hating problem-solving or essay writing thereby shaping their attitudes towards a particular subject and in turn their career choices. So what is most important to remember is that NOT to give up and to start back at the basics if you have to, cause who said you have to do it alone that's what teachers, tutors, and the lucky few parents are here for.

As a Teacher

Same as in other levels there are certain appropriate 'Verbs' that can be used, the learning outcomes of which should be for the student to be able to (in italics) apply, calculate, carry out, classify, complete, compute, demonstrate, dramatize, employ, examine, execute, experiment, generalize, illustrate, implement, infer, interpret, manipulate, modify, operate, organize, outline, predict, solve, transfer, translate and use. What is to be noted by teachers in this level is that not to neglect students who don't seem to have been able to 'apply' what has been taught and forming a judgment as to their ability to learn, but to reconsider the methods that have been employed by them to teach a particular subject or topic. Or if the need arises to focus more on the student who is having said difficulty.

As a Student

The 4th level of the taxonomy defines the ability of the student to break the material being taught into its subsequent parts and determine how the parts relate to one another and/or to the overall structure or purpose (for example) the ability to analyze the role of different civic bodies in the functioning of a government. This is a crucial and relatively hard part considering that we're at the fourth tier that's a given, but the ability to analyze any information is critical in the learning process, as only once a student can effectively analyze a problem at hand can he/she determine the right approach to solving the problem.

As a Teacher

The ability to analyze is easier for a teacher than it is for a student, where the former is presented with the dilemma of analyzing the solution the latter is faced with the problem of analyzing the problem. However for teachers who find this process difficult there are certain appropriate 'Verbs' that they can employ in this regard (in italics) analyze, arrange, break down, categorize, classify, compare, connect, contrast, deconstruct, detect, diagram, differentiate, discriminate, distinguish, divide, explain, identify, integrate, inventory, order, organize, relate, separate, and structure.

As a Student

The core takeaway from this level of the taxonomy is the ability to make judgments based on preset criteria and standards (for example) judging which of any two given methods is the way to solve a problem. This is crucial when it comes to those tricky problems, where one may employ multiple methods to reach a solution. Ever wondered how some people seem to be going completely wrong yet somehow end up getting the right answer, well this could just mean a higher level of evaluation on the part of the student, given the problem at hand. There are various ways to reach any given solution the trick lies in being able to evaluate the best possible method to reach the desired end result.

As a Teacher

This is becoming a pattern now, but it is what it is. There are several 'Verbs' that are considered appropriate when assessing a students ability to 'Evaluate' which include appraise, apprise, argue, assess, compare, conclude, consider, contrast, convince, criticize, critique, decide, determine, discriminate, evaluate, grade, judge, justify, measure, rank, rate, recommend, review, score, select, standardize, support, test and validate.

As a Student

And now we reach the final level of the taxonomy, it is this level of knowledge that a student should necessarily attain once having completed his course or the level of education he/she is pursuing. This is the ability to take into account all that has been learned and to put multiple elements together to form a functional whole or reorganize elements into a new pattern or structure. Once you have mastered this level will you be truly ready to apply what you have learned in a practical setting? It's not always possible to entirely master this level as one is always presented with new problems to which one has to find out more innovative and creative solutions. As with all things in life, this comes with a learning curve, as most of what we learn out in the real world is "On The Job". (for example) writing a song, or authoring a book, etc.

As a Teacher

For this level too there are certain appropriate 'Verbs' that can be used to evaluate a students ability to 'create' and even further 'innovate' which include (in italics) arrange, assemble, build, collect, combine, compile, compose, constitute, construct, create, design, develop, devise, formulate, generate, hypothesize, integrate, invent, make, manage, modify, organize, perform, plan, prepare, produce, propose, rearrange, reconstruct, reorganize, revise, rewrite, specify, synthesize, and write.

With all things said, if you aren't at a level you presumed yourself to be or even worse not on any of these levels at all, one should remember that this taxonomy was always meant to be a framework, a set of guidelines if you will for how students should ideally spend their time learning and what takeaways they must achieve once having completed the course or level of education they're pursuing. However what's most important of all is that one has to remember both from the perspective of a teacher and a student, is that every individual is unique, and not everyone can be the "smartest" cause in a world of over 7 Billion people there will always be someone smarter, someone brighter, someone more creative, someone more gifted and lastly someone more talented. Always remember that standards are set by those who dream to achieve and are broken by those who achieve to dream. Success is and always has been personal, for the only true competition out there is 'Yourself' and that's who you should be aiming to trump