Bloom’s Taxonomy is a great resource to consult when chalking out learning objectives. There are, however, times when the final product still does not get us the results we set out to achieve. In other words, the students have not learned what we intended for them to learn through the course. Many times, the reason for this is the way we approach the construction of learning objectives. Bloom’s is more than just plugging in the right verbs to your course content. To understand this, we must give the pyramid of Bloom’s Taxonomy a deeper look. When we do, we realize that it is not a hierarchical pyramid after is a grid!

The three domains of learning in Bloom’s Taxonomy are the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains. The cognitive domain is the most widely used for classroom settings. The initial version of Bloom’s Taxonomy (1956) was presented as a pyramid, with the levels of cognitive learning increasing in complexity as you go up. This gave rise to misconceptions of it being a lock-step hierarchy – meaning that the levels of learning had to be achieved in order.

The revised version (2001) of the taxonomy has a more integrated approach and addresses the idea that different levels of learning may be achieved independent of each other or in a different order, depending on the nature of the subject and/or goal of the course. It incorporates the idea of learning being an active process, rather than a passive one, by using verbs instead of nouns to define the levels of learning. This version further breaks down the cognitive domain into two dimensions: the knowledge dimension (what students will learn) and the cognitive processing dimension (how they will think about this learning).

Blooms Table Image

The intersection of these dimensions gives you a more complete picture of what your students will be achieving through your course. Visualizing your learning objectives in this way gives you a chance to re-assess your goals for the students and think about how best to describe those goals in a way that can create a wholesome learning experience. Watch the video by Dave McAlinden for an overview of how Bloom’s Taxonomy can be used in course development to achieve the most effective instructional design.