Bloom's Revised Taxonomy

Organizing learning outcomes by cognitive complexity.

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When designing a course’s learning outcomes, it is important to understand the complexity of student tasks. For example, should students be able to compare two works of literature before they apply similar concepts to their own writing? Using a framework like Bloom’s helps determine the cognitive complexity of student tasks, whether there is variety of difficulty among learning outcomes and, if not, how to alter them to create variety.

Bloom's Levels of Cognitive Complexity

Bloom's Taxonomic Pyramid: Creating, Evaluating, Analyzing, Applying, Understanding, Remembering.

Bloom’s Taxonomic Pyramid

Bloom’s Taxonomic Pyramid orders the levels of outcomes from the lowest order of cognition (remembering) to the highest (creating) (Krathwohl, 2002). In the following table we have given a brief description of what these levels mean, as well as example learning outcomes in a cooking class where students are learning to make omelettes.

The meaning of Bloom's levels

Level Students can... Examples for making an omelette in a culinary class
Creating

Use elements to form an original product.

Construct a new recipe influenced by the ingredients of a specified country.

Evaluating

Make judgments based on criteria.

Argue for how a recipe might be improved.

Analyzing

Determine parts, their purpose and their relation to each other and the whole.

Compare two omelette recipes and predict how they will turn out.

Applying

Carry out a procedure in a given situation.

Demonstrate how to cook an omelette.

Understanding

Determine meaning.

Describe how each ingredient contributes to an omelette.

Remembering

Retrieve knowledge.

Remember ingredients for French Omelette.

Important points about complexity

There are a several important points to note about levels of complexity.

  • Higher levels are often more complex
    While higher levels may be more difficult, this is not always the case. For example, the complexity or difficulty of a student creating a song may be low (e.g., sing any melody) or high (e.g., incorporate a full orchestra). 
  • Levels build off each other
    In order to analyze content, students need to know and understand the parts or there is nothing to analyze. While levels often build off each other, students can be introduced to, and complete, levels at higher tasks earlier. For example, asking students to cook a souffle first, and then analyze what worked and what went wrong to better understand the chemistry of cooking uses several levels together.
  • Variety of levels
    If all learning outcomes are at the same level, students will not develop well-rounded skills. An entry-level course may require students to mainly remember, understand and apply concepts, while a higher-level course might focus more on evaluation and creation.
  • Scaffolding
    Beginning students can practice higher levels of complexity with appropriate scaffolding (see scaffolding). For example, when asking students to create a short story you might limit page length, number of characters, location etc.

Using Bloom's to create variety

To create a variety of appropriate learning outcomes for students:

  1. Use this verb chart to categorize your learning outcomes by Bloom’s six levels.
  2. Determine which levels are appropriate for your course and which are missing. Some will exist in multiple categories and complexity will depend on the focus of the learning outcome.
  3. Adjust or create new outcomes using the verb chart by choosing new verbs in the appropriate categories. Are these balanced?