Benajamin Bloom

Beginning in 1948, Benjamin Bloom headed a group of educational psychologists whose research led to the development of a classification of the levels of intellectual behaviour important in the learning process. They identified three (overlapping) domains of educational activities:

  1. cognitive (mental skills)
  2. affective (feelings/emotion - attitude)
  3. psychomotor (manual or physical skills)

Their work on the cognitive domain was completed in 1956 and is referred to as Bloom's Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain. Bloom postulated that students' abilities could be measured along a continuum ranging from (lowest level) the simple recall or recognition of facts, through increasingly more complex and abstract mental levels, to the highest order which is classified as evaluation. Much of what the Sciences emphasize is cognitive, but affective and psychomotor learning are also valuable.

Cognitive Learning

This domain on the acquisition and use of knowledge is predominant in the majority of courses. Cognitive learning is demonstrated by knowledge recall and intellectual skills including:

  • comprehending information and the recall or recognition of specific facts;
  • organizing ideas and procedural patterns;
  • analysing and synthesizing data;
  • applying knowledge;
  • choosing among alternatives in problem-solving;
  • evaluating ideas or actions.

There are six major categories, which are listed in order below, starting from the simplest behaviour to the most complex. The categories can be thought of as degrees of difficulties. That is, the first one must be mastered before the next one can take place. Verb examples that represent intellectual activity on each level are also listed.


LevelsExamplesTypes of questions
1 Knowledge: retention and retrieval (memorisation)
Rote memorisation of terminology, facts, theories, structures, methods and procedures, recall of data/dates etc.
  • arrange
  • define
  • describe
  • duplicate
  • identify
  • know
  • label
  • list
  • matches
  • memorise
  • name
  • order
  • outlines
  • recall
  • recognise
  • relate
  • repeat
  • reproduce
  • select
  • state
2
Comprehension: understanding

  • Understand the meaning, translation, interpolation, and interpretation of instructions and problems.
  • Describe and explain a problem in one's own words  or in another format.
  • Involves the ''internalisation" of knowledge.
  • classify
  • comprehend
  • convert
  • defend
  • describe
  • distinguish
  • discuss
  • estimate
  • explain
  • extend
  • express
  • generalise
  • gives examples
  • identify
  • indicate
  • infer
  • interpret
  • locate
  • paraphrase
  • predict
  • recognise
  • report
  • review
  • rewrite
  • select
  • summarise
  • translate
3
Application: applications and generalisations
  • Recognition of which knowledge elements are applicable to a situation, and correctly applying them.
  • Use a concept in a new situation or unprompted use of an abstraction.
  • apply
  • calculate
  • change
  • choose
  • computes
  • constructs
  • demonstrate
  • determine
  • discover
  • employ
  • illustrate
  • interpret
  • manipulate
  • modify
  • operate
  • practice
  • predict
  • prepare
  • produce
  • relate
  • schedule
  • show
  • solve
  • uses
  • write
4 Analysis: being able to describe the logic behind a process, etc.
  • Ability to take known facts and discover the connections between them resulting in a creative solution to a problem.
  • Separates material or concepts into component parts so that its organizational structure may be understood.
  • Distinguishes between facts and inferences.
  • analyse
  • appraise
  • breaks down
  • calculate
  • categorise
  • compare
  • contrast
  • criticise
  • diagram
  • deconstruct
  • differentiate
  • discriminate
  • distinguish
  • examine
  • experiment
  • hypothesise
  • identify
  • illustrate
  • indicate
  • infer
  • outline
  • question
  • relate
  • select
  • separate
  • test
5
Synthesis: creation of new structures
  • Builds from diverse elements. Put parts together to form a whole.
  • Build a structure, pattern or new facts, theory, structures, methods from known ideas, plus observation, with emphasis on creating a new meaning, structure to solve a problem (or understand something).
  • arrange
  • assemble
  • categorise
  • collect
  • combine
  • compile
  • compose
  • construct
  • create
  • devise
  • design
  • develop
  • explain
  • formulate
  • generate
  • manage
  • modify
  • organise
  • plan
  • prepare
  • propose
  • rearrange
  • reconstruct
  • relate
  • reorganise
  • revise
  • rewrite
  • set-up
  • summarise
  • tell
  • write
6 Evaluation: make judgments about value of ideas or material
Invent new structures based on observation of phenomenon which do not fit existing frameworks.
  • appraise
  • argue
  • assess
  • attach
  • choose
  • compare
  • conclude
  • contrast
  • criticise
  • critique
  • defend
  • describe
  • discriminate
  • estimate
  • evaluate
  • explain
  • interpret
  • justify
  • judge
  • predict
  • rate
  • relate
  • select
  • summarise
  • support
  • value

Further reading

  1. Benjamin Bloom's taxonomy of educational objectives [external link]
  2. Bloom's taxonomy and learning styles [external link]
  3. Learning according to Bloom [external link]
  4. Learning domains or Bloom's taxonomy [external link]
  5. Major categories in the taxonomy of educational objectives [external link]
  6. Multiple choice questions and Bloom taxonomy [external link]

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