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A Quick Guide on Bloom’s Taxonomy of Cognitive Domain

Updated on May 22, 2014
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I'm a dad, husband, and Christian first. The rest is just life's add-ons: an educator, administrator, learning & development professional.

The Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning Domains is a staple if you are working in the education industry. Whether you are a teacher, administrator or corporate trainer, you will encounter this. So before you get alienated, here’s a quick guide.

A Quick History of Bloom’s Taxonomy

Although many recognize Bloom’s Taxonomy as a list of cognitive domains, it is essential to understand that it was a group of people who actually created it. It was named so since the committee was headed by Dr. Benjamin Bloom.

In 1956, the committee chaired by Dr. Bloom proposed a set of learning objectives for educators. This move proved valuable in that educators became focused on the different cognitive levels. Higher order thinking such as analysis and synthesis of information is properly evaluated. Likewise, these new domains facilitated educators create more meaningful experiences to the learners.

Bloom’s taxonomy became one of the foundations of educations in the academe and in the corporate training industry. As such, continuous improvements to the initial categories were done. In 2000, the taxonomy had a revision.


Overview of Bloom’s 3 Domains

In 1956, Bloom and his colleagues identified three basic areas of learning. First is the cognitive domain. It is this category that is commonly associated with bloom’s taxonomy. In addition, cognitive skills refer to one’s mental skills. Second is the Affective Domain. This refers to a person’s emotional growth. Moreover, it covers the person’s attitude and concept of self. Lastly, Bloom’s Taxonomy covers physical or manual skills.

Although there are 3 domains identified by the committee, the cognitive domain became synonymous with Bloom’s Taxonomy.

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Cognitive Domain

The cognitive domain is the most popular among educators and trainers. Probably this is due to importance of acquiring knowledge in the learning set up. But as the committee pointed out, there is more to learning than just memorizing information.

There are six levels in the cognitive domain. Furthermore, they are arranged from low-order thinking to higher order thinking skills.

We have to help our brains develop.
We have to help our brains develop. | Source

1. Knowledge

This level of cognitive skill is usually assessed by the amount of facts recalled. But to say that it’s simply about rote learning is inaccurate. Knowledge skills include following set rules like a process or procedure, understanding sequences and trends. Moreover, it includes appreciation of principles and generalizations like theories, axioms and laws.

Sample question/activity:

  • Enumerate Newton’s Law of Motion.
  • Recite the company philosophy
  • Identify the 6 levels of the cognitive domain

2. Comprehension

Comprehension skills are a tad trickier. It requires the person to understand information. This is usually assessed by asking the person to compare and contrast data, interpreting information and even translating information. Another indication that a person is at this level is his/her ability to restate problems, events or scenarios using his/her own words. Some of the most common tasks in this cognitive level include translation, interpretation and extrapolation of data.

Sample questions/activities:

  • Give a summary of the novel 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James
  • Explain the Law of Supply and Demand
  • Rewrite in your own words the Declaration of Independence

3. Application

A hallmark of this level is the ability to use previous knowledge in different situations. Moreover, the person can utilize facts, information and other critical data to a new situation.

Sample questions/activities:

  • How can Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs be utilized in coaching?
  • Which type of engine oil is best for a V8 engine, why?

4. Analysis

At this level, the person is able to breakdown the components of a concept. Furthermore, he/she is able to make inferences and establish facts to support any generalizations.

Sample questions/activities:

  • How can the new office policy affect the productivity of the employees?
  • Determine the bottle necks in the current process flow.

Einstein is considered as one on the most Brilliant persons in the world.
Einstein is considered as one on the most Brilliant persons in the world. | Source

5. Synthesis

When a person combines information in a new pattern or way to create a totally different concept, then that person shows the synthesis skills.

Sample questions/activities:

  • Create an SOP manual for the Operations Department
  • Solve the current bottleneck problems in your current process

6. Evaluation

This is when a person makes judgments on information based on a set of criteria.

Sample questions/activities:

  • Select the most deserving employee to receive the employee of the year award.
  • Explain and justify the new policies of your department

The taxonomy of cognitive domains have facilitated numerous changes in the way school approached learning. As such, the methodologies and teaching strategies have zeroed in the cognitive domain from rudimentary thinking to higher order thinking skills. Moreover, even the corporate world makes use of these domains in their human capital development programs as a guide for proper adult learning interventions and training programs.

By understanding how the mind works and process information, one can provide the most appropriate learning environment. Thus providing meaningful learning.

The Revised Taxonomy

In the mid1990’s, Lorin Anderson, a student of Dr. Bloom proposed some changes to the original taxonomy. Her revisions included changing the names of the domains from nouns to verbs. This change reflected a more active engagement of cognitive function. The second change that was made was reordering the last two categories.

A Comparison of Taxonomies

Original Taxonomy
Revised Taxonomy

As an educator and a human capital development professional, having the knowledge of Bloom's cognitive domains comes in handy. This cognitive development principles provides the backdrop for more meaningful experiences in the class or in the corporate world. moreover, by utilizing the best way people learn, we help others become better and more productive. Furthermore, when it is paired with other educational principles and the most recent studies in one's field, one can expect greater things.

The human mind can accomplish so many things. But with a little more help from others, the potential for growth becomes truly limitless. Bloom's Taxonomy offers as a way to scaffold this learning.


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    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 3 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hi there stuff4kids,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the subject. I think you are right. The basic construct is still very relevant today's educational system. with the addition of other educational theories, we can provide a better learning experience for children. Moreover, we can help them understand themselves through proper guidance.

    • stuff4kids profile image

      Amanda Littlejohn 3 years ago

      Nice introduction to Bloom. I think that, while further development in educational theory has arguably added to this, it hasn't ever really been superseded. The fundamental insights of this structure are still very useful in practical applications and 'whole person' educational approaches.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 3 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Glad you like it raeyecarlos,

      These three are quite important in the academe and in the corporate world as well. I use their principles in designing the best employee training programs. Coupled with new insights on organizational development, HR practices and a host of other inputs, The possibilities are endless.

      Thank you for dropping by. It's nice to see you here again.

    • raeyecarlos profile image

      raeyecarlos 3 years ago

      I never get tired of Bloom, or Vygotsky, or Maslow... their theories just make sense.

      Thanks for giving good examples for Bloom's Taxonomy.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 3 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hi rebeccamealey,

      This cognitive domain of Bloom is for everyone. We can apply it in many situations. In fact, I use the concept in the training programs i create for companies.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 3 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hello csmiravite-blogs,

      As educators, we do have the important role of guiding our students. We can do as much as we can but in the end, it's how they process the information.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      This is a great explanation of Bloom's levels of learning. We can apply it to ourselves and how we gain knowledge., too. It's not just for educators. Thanks!

    • csmiravite-blogs profile image

      Consolacion Miravite 3 years ago from Philippines

      I have been with the academe for quite sometime and this is the first time that I heard about Bloom's Taxonomy. I am not a trained teacher, since I only teach specific courses in upper Accountancy. I am not sure if what I did then was the right away.

      Nonetheless, I have always emphasized to students that learning does not happen in school. It starts and ends with them. As their professors, we can only do so much and cover so little. So students who plan to take the board, should study the course on their own -- that is, beyond the four walls of the academe.

      I always noticed that students who religiously study the course on their own steam, are the ones making it in the board exams. So, I may be right on this aspect. :)