Bloom’s Taxonomy Made Simple

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The taxonomy (a fancy word for classification) was created by a committee of educators and chaired by Benjamin Bloom (which is where it got it’s name).  It was a model originally developed (first published around 1956, but worked on from 1949) to assist University Professors to classify the work they were getting students to undertake.

Since then it has made it’s way into all areas of Learning and Development and is a really useful tool to help you think about the depth of knowledge and level of ability your are trying to provide to your learners.

The model itself was revisited in 2000 and some amendments made, it’s this revised version that we are going to use today because I think the language used is easier to grasp.

Bloom's Taxonomy - pyramid showing the six revised levels.

The things you need to know are :

1.  The original committee created 3 variations of this model.

  • One around knowledge, comprehension and thinking (known as the cognitive domain – that’s the one in the picture above and is the one most commonly used.
  • One around the emotional reaction (the affective domain)
  • One around the ability to physically manipulate a tool or instrument (the psychomotor domain)

2.  When learning something new, you start at the bottom of the pyramid and to increase your expertise in a subject you move up the various levels of the pyramid.

3.  At each level you should be able to do the following things:

  • Remembering is about being able to recall information.
  • Understanding is about being able to explain ideas or concepts.
  • Applying is about being able to use the information in another familiar setting.
  • Analysing is breaking information into parts to be able to explore relationships between things.
  • Evaluating is about justifying a decision or course of action.
  • Creating is about generating new ideas, products or ways of viewing things.

What does this mean for us in training?

Basically, what this allows us to do is determine the level of expertise that someone or group of people is required to have on a specific subject, and then use the Taxonomy as a staring point for the learning objectives to ensure the learning solution is fit for purpose.

For example, lets say I have a group of managers who need to implement a new sickness/absence policy.  Using Bloom’s Taxonomy, I would be able to determine that they only need to be able to remember it (they need to know the detail to implement it), understand it (so they can explain it to their teams) and apply it (so they can enforce the new rules).  It is the job of the HR team to analyse it (know how it fits with other policies), evaluate it (be able to justify it to the Board of Directors) and Create it (develop it in the first place).

Knowing this would then let me develop a much more tailored, effective learning solution as the manager’s would only be given the information they needed, but would be given it in such a way that they were able to go and actively apply it back in their role.

How have you used Bloom’s Taxonomy?  Or is it totally new to you?  I love to hear your views in the comments below.  :)


Founder of Zostera Ltd and The Trainers CPD Club. I've worked in L&D for over 16 years across both the public and private sectors.

Posted in Learning Theory, The Unintentional Trainers Guide To...., Uncategorized Tagged with: , , , , , ,

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