Innovative Learning

Taxonomies

Following the 1948 Convention of the American Psychological Association, Benjamin Bloom took a lead in formulating a classification of "the goals of the educational process". Bloom headed a group of educational psychologists who developed a classification of levels of intellectual behavior important in learning. This became a taxonomy including three overlapping domains; the cognitive, psychomotor, and affective (see Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001; Bloom & Krathwhol, 1956, Gronlund, 1970).

Cognitive learning consisted of 6 levels: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. For each level, specific learning behaviors were defined as well as appropriate descriptive verbs that could be used for writing instructional objectives. For example:

  1. Knowledge: arrange, define, duplicate, label, list, memorize, name, order, recognize, reproduce state.
  2. Comprehension: classify, describe, discuss, explain, express, identify, indicate, locate, recognize, report, restate, review, select, translate,
  3. Application: apply, choose, demonstrate, dramatize, employ, illustrate, interpret, operate, practice, schedule, sketch, solve, use, write.
  4. Analysis: analyze, appraise, calculate, categorize, compare, contrast, criticize, differentiate, discriminate, distinguish, examine, experiment, question, test.
  5. Synthesis: arrange, assemble, collect, compose, construct, create, design, develop, formulate, manage, organize, plan, prepare, propose, set up, write.
  6. Evaluation: appraise, argue, assess, attach, choose compare, defend estimate, judge, predict, rate, core, select, support, value, evaluate.

The Affective domain (e.g., Krathwhol, Bloom & Masia, 1964) consisted of behaviors corresponding to: attitudes of awareness, interest, attention, concern, and responsibility, ability to listen and respond in interactions with others, and ability to demonstrate those attitudinal characteristics or values which are appropriate to the test situation and the field of study. This domain relates to emotions, attitudes, appreciations, and values, such as enjoying, conserving, respecting, and supporting.

Although not part of the original work by Bloom, others went on to complete the definition of psychomotor taxonomies. For example, Harrow (1972) proposed these six levels: Reflex (objectives not usually written at this "low" level), Fundamental movements - applicable mostly to young children (crawl, run, jump, reach, change direction), Perceptual abilities (catch, write, balance, distinguish, manipulate), Physical abilities (stop, increase, move quickly, change, react), Skilled movements (play, hit, swim, dive, use), and Non-discursive communication (express, create, mime, design, interpret).

The significance of the work of Bloom and others on taxonomies was that it was the first attempt to classify learning behaviors and provide concrete measures for identifying different levels of learning. The development of taxonomies is closed related to the use of instructional objectives and the systematic design of instructional programs (see Gagne, Merrill or Mager ).

Web Resources

For more about Bloom and his work on taxonomies, see:
http://www.itee.uq.edu.au/~philip/Publications/sigcse-2001-talk/blooms.html
http://www.coe.uga.edu/epltt/bloom.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Bloom

References

Anderson, L. & Krathwohl, D. (2001). A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. New York: Longman.

Bloom Benjamin S. and David R. Krathwohl, (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals, by a committee of college and university examiners. Handbook I: Cognitive Domain. New York: Longman, Green.

Gronlund, Norman E. (1970). Stating Behavioral Objectives for Classroom Instruction. New York: Macmillan.

Harrow, A. (1972). A Taxonomy of the Psychomotor Domain. A guide for Developing Behavioral Objectives. New York: McKay.

Krathwohl, David R., Benjamin S. Bloom, and Bertram B. Masia. (1964). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals. Handbook II: Affective Domain. New York: David McKay Co., Inc.

Note: Thanks to Kevin C. Lawrence for his suggestion to include this entry and the links he provided. Thanks to Geoff Issacs for the reference to the SOLO taxonomy.

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