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What is the Importance of Studying Bloom's Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain?

Updated on July 30, 2013

Bloom's Taxonomy

Bloom's Taxonomy as a rose
Bloom's Taxonomy as a rose | Source

Bloom's Taxonomy of the Cognitive Learning Domains

Who is Bloom? What is his Taxonomy? And why do educators and social scientists talk about him nonstop?

Whether you're a high school student cramming for a psychology test, an education student studying for the PLT Praxis, or a classroom teacher, this page gives you the tools you need to understand each level of Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning Domains, action verbs and tasks associated with each level, and modern revisions to the hierarchy.


What is the Cognitive Domain?

There are three domains of learning objectives - cognitive, affective, and psychomotor. A well-planned lesson should take all three into account. In fact, Bloom stressed the importance of using all three domains, but his hierarchy of the cognitive domain is more commonly used and discussed than classifications of the affective and psychomotor domains.

The cognitive domain involves mental operations. These operations can be simple, like recalling a basic fact, or complex, like using prior knowledge to create something new. For example, students asked "Who was the first President of the United States?" are being tested on the most basic, recall level. Students asked to explain, in their own words, the importance of the Bill of Rights, are being asked to comprehend the material, not just regurgitate it. Bloom's Taxonomy is a widely-accepted representation of how cognitive learning can vary, and it descries cognitive learning objectives in order from the simplest to the most complex.

Bloom's Taxonomy as a Ladder

Bloom's Taxonomy as a ladder
Bloom's Taxonomy as a ladder | Source
Bloom's Taxonomy as an inverted pyramid
Bloom's Taxonomy as an inverted pyramid | Source

Bloom's Taxonomy and Revisions

Bloom's Taxonomy was first developed in 1956 and is frequently represented as a pyramid, but you can also think of it as a ladder. If you imagine Bloom's Taxonomy as a ladder, it has six rungs. Like most ladders, it has a broad base and is narrower at the top. Each successive level is more difficult, and generally less commonly tested or used. The six ladder rungs, or categories of Bloom's Taxonomy are:

  1. Knowledge. This is simple recall.
  2. Comprehension. Comprehension requires understanding and the ability to prove understanding by explaining or rephrasing.
  3. Application. Once a student comprehends information, he or she should be able to apply it to.
  4. Analysis.
  5. Synthesis. When synthesizing information, a student must design a plan, propose a set of operations, and put various parts (items or procedures) together to form a whole.
  6. Evaluation. Evaluation includes making judgements and offering opinions.

In 2000/2001 Bloom's Taxonomy was revised. Originally, the categories were listed as nouns, like "knowledge." The 2001 revision simply turned the nouns into verbs. The six revised categories are:

  1. Remembering
  2. Understanding
  3. Applying
  4. Analyzing
  5. Evaluating
  6. Creating

The tasks associated with each level remained the same, except that "creating" is now believed to take place at a higher cognitive level than evaluation, or synthesis. Basically, levels 5 and 6 swapped places in the Revised Taxonomy. Both versions of Bloom's Taxonomy are still in use.

Bloom's Taxonomy Examples

Keywords/Action Verbs
Sample Lesson Objectives
Recall, define, identify, list, label, place, select, name, match
The student will (TSW) list the organelles of an animal cell. TSW label all 50 states on a map.
Classify, describe, discuss, interpret, predict, paraphrase, reword, summarize
TSW describe each of the organelles found in an animal cell. TSW translate the sentence into French.
Apply, demonstrate, develop, show, simulate, solve, use
TSW demonstrate an understanding of the major parts of speech by using them all in a complete sentence.
Compare, group, identify, debate, discover, categorize, arrange
TWS use a microscope to identify a cell's major organelles.
Arrange, combine, compile, develop, modify, organize, imagine
TSW write a paragraph that correctly demonstrates all of the parts of speech.
Assess, choose, evaluate, explain, revise, relate, rank, support, validate
TWS evaluate another student's paragraph to determine whether all parts of speech have been used correctly.

Test your Understanding

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You're not alone! There are resources to help you develop taxonomy-based lessons and assessments.

Why Use Bloom's Taxonomy?

Bloom's Taxonomy is widely used by teachers in kindergarten all the way through college because it is an effective scaffold for building lesson plans, activities, and assessments. Teachers must evaluate their students and test them for knowledge and comprehension - following Bloom's Taxonomy helps teachers ensure their lessons teach what the students need to know for these assessments.

Bloom's Taxonomy also helps teachers decide how to spend valuable classroom time. Testing for basic memorization is always easy, but getting students involved and checking for true understanding is frequently difficult. Using Bloom's Taxonomy as a guide, teachers can build lessons that engage students on every level of the cognitive domain.

While it is most commonly used in the K-12 education setting, Bloom's Taxonomy is an easy to comprehend visual representation of the cognitive domain. Because of its efficacy, it is one of the most widely used and recognized educational devices and is used in instruction at all levels from preschool to medical school. It is crucial for all educators to study and understand Bloom's Taxonomy in order to create meaningful presentations and check for true mastery of the information.


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    • Mykola profile image

      Mykola 12 months ago from Ukraine

      Very interesting and useful article, as for me, it can be used in writing of different essays, in studying of any subjects at any level. Common laws of thinking are formed due to Bloom's Taxonomy. My congratulations, Natalie!

    • profile image

      Kafu Nontombi 2 years ago

      Thx alot...i am a student at Univesity ocf Fort hare, qnd this helped m alot as i hav assignmnton about to be a teacher lol

    • profile image

      nomzamo 2 years ago

      thank u , i actualy have an assignment on this one, it helped a lot. @still a student teacher.

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks so much, teaches!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Very well done! This is a basic standard of learning for all teachers and should be used to promote learning in the classroom. Well designed hub.

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you! I'm very glad the quiz seems to be popular - I was a little unsure about it!

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 5 years ago from Taos, NM

      Great article. You explain Bloom very well and easy for non-educators to understand. The quiz is a nice touch and ensures the reader they understand the article. Nice presentation!

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      That's why it has such staying power - it's useful for pretty much any educational situation. I'm glad you liked the quiz and found it useful!

    • Janis Goad profile image

      Janis Goad 5 years ago

      We use Bloom's Taxonomy in teaching Adult learners, too! Good explanation of the levels.

      I like the quiz--it makes readers think about it, and integrate the concepts you just expalined.

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you, missolive! Bloom's Taxonomy is one of those rare (in my opinion) things that you have to learn that really is day-to-day useful. Thanks, again, for stopping by!

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you, missolive! Bloom's Taxonomy is one of those rare (in my opinion) things that you have to learn that really is day-to-day useful. Thanks, again, for stopping by!

    • missolive profile image

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 5 years ago from Texas

      I have always been fascinated by Bloom's Taxonomy and it has greatly helped me plan my lessons and approach to teaching. You did a great job explaining. Thanks so much for sharing your research and insight.

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you, twinstimes2 and Billybuc! I think I most commonly engage kids on the 'application' level, personally. I have learned the hard way that you have to be pretty specific when you ask questions, though, especially with elementary school students. They will give you an answer that fits your question in a way you never evn imagined possible! Thank you both for stopping by.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great explanation of Blooms.....once you have taught for awhile you find yourself using it without even realizing it. Anyway, great job!

    • twinstimes2 profile image

      Karen Lackey 5 years ago from Ohio

      Awesome resource and well explained. Loved the chart. Well done, Natasha!