Bloom's Taxonomy of Knowledge

One framework that can help you categorize your learning outcomes is Bloom’s Taxonomy for Knowledge, which organizes learning outcomes by levels of cognitive tasks.

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How can Bloom’s help?

When designing course learning outcomes, it is important to determine what it is you would like students to be able to do by the end of the course. A key component of this is identifying the level of complexity for each outcome. Using Bloom’s allows you to determine whether there is variety in the complexity of your current learning outcomes and, if not, how to get there.

Bloom's Levels of Cognitive Complexity

Bloom's Taxonomy represented as a pyramid showing orders of cognition from bottom to top: remembering; understanding; applying; analyzing; evaluating; and creating.

Bloom’s Taxonomic Pyramid orders the levels of objectives from the lowest order of cognition (remembering) to the highest (creating)(Krathwohl, 2002).

Using Bloom's to create variety

We have compiled a list of verbs that can help you determine which category your learning outcomes fall into or to create a new learning outcome for a specific level.

Thinking about instruction

While we’ll discuss teaching and activities in (see Active Learning), it’s important to know now that some categories of learning outcomes fit better with some types of instruction.

For example, if you want students to be creative in your classroom, a lecture is not the most efficient way to allow them to practice this skill. The following list matches learning outcome categories to instructional practices.

Learning Outcomes Categories Instructional Practices
Remember Readings
Lecture
Rehearsal Techniques
Understand

Instructor Modeling
Homework Practice
Group Activities

Apply Instructor/Peer Modeling
Case Studies
Homework Practice
Group ActivitiesLabs
Analyze Instructor/Peer Modeling
Case Studies
Homework Practice
Group Activities
Labs
Independent Research
Evaluate Instructor/Peer Modeling
Case Studies
Homework Practice
Group Activities
Labs
Independent Research
Written/Oral Assignments
Create Instructor Modeling
Group/Independent Projects
Independent Research

This document reformats Table 1, published in Stanny, C. J. (2016). Reevaluating Bloom's Taxonomy: What Measurable Verbs Can and Cannont Say about Student Learning. Education Sciences, 6 (4), 37; doi:10.3390/educsci6040037, for single-page printing. Used under CC-BY, licensed under CC-BY by Claudia J. Stanny.

Putting Bloom's into action

In order to create a variety of appropriate learning outcomes for students:

  1. Use the 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.
  3. Adjust or create new outcomes using the verb chart. Are these balanced?
  4. Consider appropriate teaching practices to help students practice these processes.