Jo Doran, Ph.D., M.F.A.

Assistant Professor & ESL Coordinator, Northern Michigan University

Bloom’s Taxonomy

Blooms Taxonomy PDF

Benjamin Bloom, 1913 – 1999, was a psychologist who developed a guide for measuring students levels of knowledge acquisition, i.e., Bloom’s Taxonomy. This classification system has become a tool used by some instructors to not only measure students levels of knowledge, comprehension, and writing, but to teach student of higher levels of cognitive application.

Bloom’s Taxonomy consists of knowledge gathering (and realizing what the writer already knows), applying that knowledge to a specific topic, issue, or argument (etc.), analyzing the knowledge/information by using critical thinking skills, putting the information back together to make ‘new’ knowledge, and evaluating the process and/or the product.

Bloom’s Taxonomy has been diagrammed in various ways (such as example 1 and example 2). Unfortunately, these images can be difficult to ‘decifer’ and apply.

Bloom’s Taxonomy has often been presented in a triangle format, with the beginning levels on the base (widest part) of the triangle, showing the six levels of learning/thinking: Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation.

I would like to share a video and discuss a possible application of the taxonomy.

Dr. Saundra McGuire mentions that while Bloom’s taxonomy has been used by instructors to target levels of instructions and target the levels of questions on quizzes and exams. She also emphasizes the need to explain this idea of higher levels of learning to students. Instructors usually expect students to think at higher levels of cognitive thinking – and yet too often, students feel that if they merely memorize and summarize, they will be doing what the instructor wants. There can be a disconnect between what the instructor expects – and what the students know they are to do.

Used individually, Bloom’s Taxonomy is a tool to develop higher levels of cognitive thinking.

  • Levels 1 and 2: Knowledge and Comprehension
    • What am I interested in?
    • What do I know about this topic?
    • What do I not know about this topic?
    • Could I explain this topic to a friend?
    • Do I need to do research on this topic?
    • If yes… how do I find out what to research?

Ok… let’s stop here for a moment, and let’s consider using mapping and freewriting to help us answer these questions. Perform a freewrite or a mapping – and then look for the 5Ws and 1H. Once you have found your specific topic, decide what you know and what you need to know. You may want/need to perform another mapping/freewrite on your topic.

  • Level 3: Application

Now that I know my specific topic, I need to consider what genre I want to use to express my ideas and consider my choice of audience:

  • What do I want to say?
  • How do I want to say it?
  • Whom do I want to read it?
  • Why?
  • What writing strategies should I use?

For example, for a book review, you will present your opinion and judgment of the book, using sound logic/reasoning. For a literature review, you will present your stance on the author’s take, or the metaphors in the piece, etc. For a genre critique, you need to determine if the text does what it claims to do, etc.

How do you do that? You could illustrate a story from the book with an image or with narration. You could relate a story of your own. You could demonstrate your understanding and knowledge by interpreting a portion of a story or play.

This portion of your writing includes an expansion of the first (knowledge and comprehension) to a specific topic in a way that shows you know what you’re talking about, why you’re talking about it, and why it’s important.

  • Level 4: Analysis

The Analysis level is where you take the ideas apart and look at them from various perspectives – to get new ideas. Ways to do this include the following:

  • Organize ideas into categories.
  • Compare and contrast these ideas, points, etc. You could even compare and contrast perspectives.
  • Question what the author says – or what you interpret the text/image/video to be saying.
  • Test a hypothesize by substituting a similar text or idea from another text.
  • Criticize an idea or perspective using sound reasoning.
  • Diagram aspects of the piece.
  • Examine metaphors and/or analogies used in the text.
  • Distinguish between ideas/points the author sees as equivalent.
  • Level 5: Synthesis

Synthesis is a way of making new knowledge: considering another person’s ideas and coming up with your own ‘take’ or interpretation or application.

Ways to do this include the following:

  • Develop a new idea.
  • Rewrite a section of the text.
  • Revise an idea of the author.
  • Formulate a possible and new application.
  • Plan how the author’s ideas could be used in different situations or in the future.
  • Collect new data.
  • Arrange the author’s ideas into a new perspective.
  • Answer your question from the Analysis level.
  • Level 6: Evaluation

The last level is evaluating – your work, interpretation, application, etc. or evaluating a product you have come up with through your work/writing. It is not enough to present the information (as is done in White Paper reports). You need to justify it or be hones and show valid problems.

Ways to do this include the following:

  • Appraise your judgments.
  • Argue that more information is needed – and show cause.
  • Predict what might happen with the author’s work – or your take on it – in the future.
  • Defend your stance, using reasonable logic.
  • Support further research.
  • Appraise the finished product.
  • Compare where you began to where you are now.

Most beginning writers only work through the first two levels: Knowledge and Comprehension. You may have completed an assignment in the past only to get a C on it… and perhaps you didn’t know why. Your writing was good, your understanding was sound. Why didn’t you get an A? It may be because you did not delve far enough into the subject. The application of Bloom’s levels will help you in the future.



Bloom’s Taxonomy and Report Writing

Bloom’s Taxonomy Handout

Seinfeld and Bloom’s Taxonomy

Working With Bloom’s Taxonomy in Your Own Writing

As you work with Bloom’s taxonomy in your own writing, consider using some of these verbs to aid you in your writing and development:

  1. Knowledge: arrange, define, duplicate, label, list, memorize, name, order, recognize, relate, recall, repeat, 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.

Additionally, you should notice that the first level is Knowledge, the second Comprehension, etc.

When we write, we need to work through these six levels – in the order given – if we want to meet the needs of our audience, communicate well, and get feedback/ideas from our audience:

1. Knowledge

  • First, what information does your audience need? (You have to determine this based on your audience(s), the context, and the content.)
  • Second, how can you get that information to your audience?
    • You can arrange your ideas in a clear and concise manner.
    • You can duplicate these ideas by repeating them using different applications, such as text and images, etc.
    • You can label information to make it more accessible.
    • You can name ideas, criteria, etc. – by defining these names, ideas, etc.
    • You can order ideas, criteria using bullets, etc.
    • You can recall and relate ideas/criteria by referencing to previous incidents, situations, etc.
    • You can present the ideas/criteria using different stories, application, etc.

2. Comprehension

  • First, how well does your audience understand this information? Once you determine their level of knowledge you can follow through with some or all of the following:
    • Classify: Divide information into specific divisions, sections, etc.
    • Describe: Use details and examples to explain.
    • Explain: Use explicit steps to explain the information.
    • Identify: Pick out the main points and emphasize them.
    • Indicate: Refer to other, similar points.
    • And so on with the rest of these: locate, recognize, report, restate, review, select, translate

3. Application

  • Your audience will only pay attention and retain this information – if this information is important to them.
  • Consequently, it is your job to makeit important to them. Here are a few ideas from Bloom’s Taxonomy:
    • Demonstrate the importance by choosing specific ideas/criteria that relate directly to the company (or the individual).
    • Dramatize the information by presenting a story that relates to them/their company.
    • Illustrate the information by giving specific and interesting examples.
    • Interpret the information by explaining how this information is important to them. Do not expect your audience to make this connection by themselves.
    • Solve issues by applying the information directly to the problem(s) at hand.
    • And so on…

4. Analyze

  • Be willing – and ready – to address the information/ideas you are presenting. Accept the fact that there are pros as well as cons to your ideas.
    • Appraise: Consider the quality and/or the importance of your information/idea
    • Calculate: Quantitatively, consider the benefits and drawbacks, and this may include financial.
    • Categorize: Include a table that lists – clearly and concisely – the pros and cons.
    • Compare/Contrast: Using another idea (or multiple ideas) or using existing practices, compare and contrast the application of your information/ideas.
    • Differentiate: Clearly state the difference between your information/ideas and current information/ideas/applications.
    • Discriminate: Be candid – and state the weaknesses as well as the strengths of each.
    • Examine and Question: Do not be afraid to include studies as proof and as pause to consider.
    • Experiment and Test: (You may not be using this stage.)

5. Synthesis

  • Once you have dissected your information/ideas and put them back together (above in 1-4), apply them directly to the problem/issue within the company using the actions (arrange, assemble, collect, compose, construct, create, design, develop, formulate, manage, organize, plan, prepare, propose, set up, and write) much as I have explained in previous levels.

6. Evaluation

  • Do you think your ideas will work – really work – for this company/situation?
  • Do you think it is worth the company’s time/money to proceed?
  • As with the above, use the qualifiers to discuss/advance your points: appraise, argue, assess, attach, choose compare, defend estimate, judge, predict, rate, core, select, support, value, evaluate