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Benjamin Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives

Benjamin Bloom’s (1956) prominent work is the development of the Taxonomy Anderson, et al. (2001), defines taxonomy as a special kind of framework that classifies objectives. They explain that “a statement of an objective contains a verb and a noun. The verb generally describes the intended cognitive process. The noun generally describes the knowledge students are expected to acquire or construct.” For example: “The student will learn to distinguish (the cognitive process) among confederal, federal, and unitary systems of government (the knowledge)” (pp. 4-5). of Educational Objectives. Educational objectives are the written statements of what educators expect their students to learn by the end of instruction (Krathwohl, 2002). Since its publication in 1956, Bloom’s taxonomy has been translated into 22 different languages (Forehand, 2005; Krathwohl, 2002). It is one of the most frequently referred to and applied instructional design systems in the field of education, and has been used by curriculum planners, researchers, administrators, and classroom teachers at all levels of education.

In 1948, Bloom participated in an informal meeting of college examiners attending the American Psychological Association Convention in Boston. At that time, Bloom held the title of Associate Director of the Board of Examinations of the University of Chicago. It was at this meeting that Bloom and a group of others expressed an interest in developing a theoretical framework that they could use to facilitate communication and to promote the exchange of test materials and ideas about testing with other examiners.

After much discussion, the group mutually came to an agreement that they could obtain this type of framework through a system of classifying educational goals and objectives. They set out to develop a classification system for thinking behaviours that were important in the learning process, so that examiners might have a more reliable system for assessing students and educational outcomes.

This group of college examiners continued to meet informally at a different university each year, and eight years later the Taxonomy of Educational Objectives – The Classification of Educational Goals – Handbook 1: The Cognitive Domain A domain categorizes the classes and sub-classes of Bloom’s taxonomy. There are three domains: the cognitive, the affective and the psychomotor. was published in 1956.

Description of the Taxonomy of Educational Objectives

Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives is a framework for classifying educational objectives, which are the statements of what educators expect their students to have learned by the end of instruction (Krathwohl, 2002).

The taxonomy consists of thinking behaviours that Bloom’s group of college examiners believed were important in the learning process. They divided their framework into three domains:

The following table shows the three domains of Bloom’s taxonomy and their classes and sub-classes, followed by a brief description of each domain.

Table of the Taxonomy of Educational Objectives

Cognitive Domain

Affective Domain

Psychomotor Domain

  1. Knowledge
    Knowledge of Specifics
    • Terminology
    • Specific Facts
    Knowledge of Ways and Means of Dealing with specifics
    • Conventions
    • Trends and Sequences
    • Classifications and Categories
    • Criteria
    • Methodology
    Knowledge of Universals and Abstractions in a Field
    • Principles and Generalizations
    • Theories and Structures
  2. Comprehension
    • Translation
    • Interpretation
    • Extrapolation
  3. Application
  4. Analysis
    • Analysis of Elements
    • Analysis of Relationships
    • Analysis of Organizational
    • Principles
  5. Synthesis
    Production of a Unique Communication
    • Production of a Plan or a Proposed Set of Operations Derivation of a set of Abstract Relations
  6. Evaluation
    • Judgements in Terms of Internal Evidence
    • Judgements in Terms of External Criteria
  1. Receiving (Attending)
    Awareness Willingness to Receive Controlled or Selected Attention
  2. Responding
    Acquiescence in Responding Willingness to Respond Satisfaction in Response
  3. Valuing
    Acceptance of Value Preference for a Value Commitment (Conviction)
  4. Organization
    Conceptualization Of a Value Organization of a Value System
  5. Characterization by a Value or Value Complex
  6. Generalized Set Characterization

This domain was not published by Bloom. Simpson (1966), Dave (1970), and Harrow (1972), went on to publish works on the psychomotor domain.

Table adapted from Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: Cognitive and Affective Domains (1956 & 1964). New York: David McKay Company Inc.

























Cognitive Domain

This domain relates to the learner’s knowledge and the development of intellectual abilities and skills, and consists of six major classes: Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation (Bloom, Engelhart, Furst, Hill, & Krathwohl, 1956, p. 16). Each of these classes is further separated into subclasses, with the exception of the application class.

Bloom’s cognitive domain consists of classifying learners’ thinking behaviours into six increasingly complex levels. Knowledge is at the basic level. Then learners progress cognitively to the levels of comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and to evaluation, which is at the highest level of complexity. Each subsequent level is dependent upon the learner’s ability to perform at the level preceding it. The teacher’s challenge is to encourage students to master their current level and to move on to the next.

A full explanation of the cognitive domain and the six classes is located in the Main Elements of the Taxonomy section of this page.

Affective Domain
The focus of the affective domain is on the learner’s interest, attitudes, and values, and consists of five classes: Receiving, Responding, Valuing, Organization, and Characterization. Each of the five classes is separated into subcategories that describe behaviours that exist in their particular level.

Given that our focus of Bloom’s taxonomy is on the cognitive domain, a detailed description of the affective domain can be found in Krathwohl, Bloom, & Masia’s (1964) Taxonomy of Educational Objectives – The Classification of Educational Goals - Handbook 2: the Affective Domain. New York: David McKay Company Inc.

Psychomotor Domain
This domain focuses on motor skills. Bloom, et al. (1956) point out that because so little information on motor skills was available in secondary schools, colleges, and universities at that time, the group believed that the development of a classification in the psychomotor domain would not be useful (pp. 7-8).

Bloom’s original group made the decision to not publish a handbook on the psychomotor domain; however, Simpson (1966), Dave (1970), and Harrow (1972) initiated publications on this domain (Notes, Krathwohl, 2002, p. 218).

In 2001, Anderson, et al. published a revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy entitled A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. For more information on the revision, refer to the book noted above, or refer to the article A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy: An Overview (2002) by David R. Krathwohl for a summary of the revisions.

Main Elements of the Taxonomy

The main elements of the cognitive domain of Bloom’s taxonomy comprise the following six classes:

Bloom’s taxonomy begins with six classes that build on the one preceding it. For example, the basic level is knowledge, and the subclasses in the knowledge class are also organized from simple to complex behaviours, or as Bloom et al. (1956) describe it “from the simple to the more complex behaviour and from the concrete or tangible to the abstract or intangible” (p. 30).

Table of the Taxonomy

The following table from Krathwohl (2002) shows the structure of the cognitive domain of Bloom’s taxonomy including the six classes and their subclasses (p. 213):

1.0 Knowledge

  • 1.10 Knowledge of specifics
    • 1.11 Knowledge of terminology
    • 1.12Knowledge of specific facts
  • 1.20 Knowledge of ways and means of dealing with specifics
    • 1.21 Knowledge of conventions
    • 1.22 Knowledge of trends and sequences
    • 1.23 Knowledge of classifications and categories
    • 1.24 Knowledge of criteria
    • 1.25 Knowledge of methodology
  • 1.30 Knowledge of universals and abstractions in a field
    • 1.31 Knowledge of principles and generalizations
    • 1.32 Knowledge of theories and structures
  • 2.0 Comprehension
    • 2.1 Translation
    • 2.2 Interpretation
    • 2.3 Extrapolation
  • 3.0 Application
  • 4.0 Analysis
    • 4.1 Analysis of Elements
    • 4.2 Analysis of Relationships
    • 4.3 Analysis of Organizational Principles
  • 5.0 Synthesis
    • 5.1 Production of a Unique Communication
    • 5.2 Production of a plan, or proposed set of operations
    • 5.3 Derivation of a set of abstract relations
  • 6.0 Evaluation
    • 6.1 Judgements in terms of internal evidence
    • 6.2 Judgements in terms of external criteria

Summaries of the Classes and Sub-classes

The links below will take you to a brief summary of each of the classes and sub-classes summarized from Bloom, et al. (1956) taxonomy (pp. 62-192).

  • Knowledge Class
  • Comprehension Class
  • Application Class
  • Analysis Class
  • Synthesis Class
  • Evaluation Class

Knowledge Class

Knowledge is the least complex class or level of the taxonomy. It includes behaviours and learning objectives that emphasize remembering, either by recall or by recognition of material, ideas, methods, processes, structures, and settings. Bloom’s taxonomy divides the knowledge class into the following sub-classes:

  • Knowledge of Terminology Sub-class
  • Knowledge of Specific Facts Sub-class
  • Knowledge of Ways and Means of Dealing with Specifics Sub-class
  • Knowledge of Conventions Sub-class
  • Knowledge of Trends and Sequences Sub-class
  • Knowledge of Classifications and Categories Sub-class
  • Knowledge of Criteria Sub-class
  • Knowledge of Methodology Sub-class
  • Knowledge of the Universals and Abstractions in a Field Sub-class
  • Knowledge of Principles and Generalizations Sub-class
  • Knowledge of Theories and Structures Sub-class

Knowledge of Specifics Sub-class
This sub-class refers to the recall or recognition of specific facts and basic concepts of the subject matter learned. Knowledge of specifics relates to isolated or parts of information that relate to the bigger context.

Knowledge of Terminology Sub-class
This sub-class refers to the ability to understand and define related terminology of the subject matter. Remembering, recalling, and providing definitions of terms and concepts are examples of knowledge of terminology.

Knowledge of Specific Facts Sub-class
This sub-class refers to knowledge of dates, persons, places, events, and sources of precise and specific information. Knowledge of specific facts refers to facts that are separate parts of the bigger context. For example, recalling an approximate time period or the major facts about a particular occupation is operating in knowledge of specific facts.

Knowledge of Ways and Means of Dealing With Specifics Sub-class
This refers to the way in which learners organize, study, judge, and criticize ideas or concepts. This sub-class is at a more abstract level than specifics in that instead of recalling information, the learner must now find a method to deal with information on a more complex level. The learner achieves this by organizing information into chronological sequence, methods of inquiry, or by internal patterns of organization.

Knowledge of Conventions Sub-class
Knowledge of conventions refers to ways of presenting ideas in a subject matter. They are the styles, usages, and practices used in a particular field. For example, the way a teacher will plan a lesson or design a curriculum; or, how a hockey player uses his or her knowledge about the game rules in a game of hockey are ways knowledge of conventions are used.

Knowledge of Trends and Sequences Sub-class
This sub-class of knowledge refers to connecting the interrelationship among a number of specific events that are separated by time. It considers the processes, movements, and directions of events with respect to time. For example, knowledge of the trends in government during the last fifty years; or, knowledge of the influences, past and present, on our health care system is considered knowledge of trends and sequences.

Knowledge of Classifications and Categories Sub-class
This sub-class refers to classifying and arranging or categorizing subject matter into useful structures. The learner has knowledge of the classifications and structure and knows when they are appropriate. For example becoming familiar with different genres in literature; or, having knowledge of the advantages of different forms of business ownership.

Knowledge of Criteria Sub-class
Knowledge of criteria refers to the testing, judging and application of facts, opinions, and conduct in a subject area. It is a useful systemization when managing the problem areas of a field or subject area. For example, having knowledge of basic elements such as unity and balance that are used to judge a work of art or a performance is considered knowledge of criteria.

Knowledge of Methodology Sub-class
The knowledge of methodology sub-class refers to procedures, techniques, and methods of inquiry used in a particular subject field, as well as those used in problem solving. The emphasis is on knowledge rather than on application. For example, knowing about the scientific methods used for evaluating health concepts is having knowledge of methodology.

Knowledge of the Universals and Abstractions in a Field Sub-class
This sub-class involves acquiring knowledge of the major ideas and patterns by which ideas and concepts are organized. Generalizations, theories, and the structures that form a subject area are examples of universals and abstractions.

Knowledge of Principles and Generalizations Sub-class
This sub-class relies on the ability to explain, describe, predict, or determine the appropriate action to take. Knowledge of the principle or generalization is all that is required at this level. For example, being able to recall the major generalizations about particular cultures; or, knowing the implications of foreign trade policies for international economy and for international goodwill is using knowledge of principles and generalizations.

Knowledge of Theories and Structures Sub-class
Knowledge of theories and structures shows the organization of specifics such as a body of principles and generalizations, and how the relationship between them forms a theory or structure. A few examples of knowledge of theories and structures are the ability to recall the major theories of the 11 theorists discussed on the ICELS website; or, having knowledge of a philosophical background for particular judgements on issues.

Comprehension Class

The comprehension class includes behaviours and learning objectives that represent a basic understanding of a communication that can be either in written, verbal, visual, or in symbolic form. There are three sub-classes under comprehension:

  • Translation Sub-class
  • Interpretation Sub-class
  • Extrapolation Sub-class

Translation Sub-class
This sub-class includes the ability to put a communication into another form of communication. Translation requires prior knowledge of the subject matter, so the learner can integrate it into a general concept or relevant ideas. It requires complex behaviours such as analysis or application, as well as a simple recall of knowledge. For example, the ability to translate a lengthy communication into a more brief and abstract version; or, the ability to read music or to translate another language into English are applications of translation.

Interpretation Sub-class
This sub-class of comprehension involves a process of reordering the presented material or ideas into a new configuration in our own mind. We must understand the relationship between the presented ideas and be able to identify them. An example of interpretation is having the ability to understand and interpret with depth and clarity various types of reading material.

Extrapolation Sub-class
Extrapolation refers to the ability to translate and interpret a document beyond the limits the writer has set. This requires the ability to apply the ideas to situations and problems not included in the document. Often, this means making predictions or estimates of a possible outcome. For example, the ability to predict consequences of a course of action described in a communication; or, the ability to differentiate value judgements from predictions of consequences are applications of extrapolation.

Application Class

The application class refers to the use of abstractions in general ideas, procedures, principles, and theories that need to be remembered and applied. This class uses new knowledge to solve problems, to apply to facts, techniques, and rules in new and different situations. Some examples of the application class is having the ability to apply social science generalizations and conclusions to actual social problems; or, having the ability to apply the laws of trigonometry to practical situations. There are no sub-classes under the application class.

Analysis Class

The analysis class refers to the ability to break subject matter into parts, and then to recognize the relationships between the different parts, and to know how to organize the parts. It is considered as an aid to fuller comprehension, or as a prelude to the evaluation of the material or subject matter. There are three sub-classes under analysis:

  • Analysis of Elements Sub-class
  • Analysis of Relationships Sub-class
  • Analysis of Organizational Principles Sub-class

Analysis of Elements Sub-class
Analysis of elements means having the ability to break material down into its relative parts, and to be able to identify the main elements of the material. Examples of analysis of elements is having the ability to recognize unstated assumptions in a written document; or, having the ability to distinguish statements that are fact from general comments.

Analysis of Relationships Sub-class
This sub-class refers to having the ability to recognize the relationships between the main ideas in the subject matter, and to determine their connections and interactions. Examples of the analysis of relationships sub-class include the following: understanding the interrelationships between the ideas in a written document; or, analyzing statements in an argument and distinguishing the relevant statements from the irrelevant.

Analysis of Organizational Principles Sub-class
Analysis of organizational principles involves recognizing the structure and arrangement of the subject matter. For example, a reader will have the ability to recognize the author’s point of view and purpose that is expressed in his or her work; or, the reader will have the ability to recognize the form and pattern in literary works as a way of understanding its meaning.

Synthesis Class

The synthesis class consists of putting together all the parts of the subject matter to form a whole. It is a process of combining parts and elements from different sources in order to create a new pattern or structure that did not exist before. There are three sub-classes under synthesis:

  • Production of a Unique Communication Sub-class
  • Production of a Plan or Proposed Set of Operations Sub-class
  • Derivation of a Set of Abstract Relations Sub-class

Production of a Unique Communication Sub-class
This sub-class refers to the ability to develop a communication where the writer or speaker conveys his or her feelings, ideas, and personal experiences effectively to others.

Production of a Plan or Proposed Set of Operations Sub-class
In this sub-class, a learner will have the ability to create a plan or proposal of how to accomplish a task or operation. The learner will have the ability to propose ways of testing hypotheses or to create instructional material for a teaching situation.

Derivation of a Set of Abstract Relations Sub-class
This sub-class refers to the ability to create abstract relationships between ideas by classifying or explaining data, or by creating basic propositions from a theoretical framework, and then forming relationships or other propositions based on the original ones. An example of derivation of a set of abstract relations is having the ability to formulate a theory of learning that is applicable to teaching in the classroom.

Evaluation Class

The evaluation class is the highest level of Bloom’s taxonomy. It refers to the judgements we make about the value of material or subject matter. The judgements may be either qualitative or quantitative, and are on whether the material is accurate, effective, economical, or satisfying. There are two sub-classes under evaluation:

  • Judgements in Terms of Internal Evidence Sub-class
  • Judgements in Terms of External Criteria Sub-class

Judgements in Terms of Internal Evidence Sub-class
This sub-class refers to the evaluation for accuracy on a document, product, or work in terms of consistency and logical accuracy as determined by the learner.

Judgements in Terms of External Criteria Sub-class
Judgements in terms of external criteria are evaluations made using external standards that determine whether the document, product, or work meet considerations of efficiency, economy, and that it meets the intended outcome. The product or work is compared to other works in the same field.

Some examples of judgements in terms of external criteria are the ability to compare theories, generalizations, and facts about particular cultures; and, to have the ability to evaluate learning theories critically.

Related Research Articles

References

Anderson, L.W., Krathwohl, D.R., Airasian, P.W., Cruikshank, K.A., Mayer, R.E., Pintrich, P.R., Raths, J., & Wittrock, M.C. (Eds.). (2001). A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing. New York: Addison Wesley Longman Inc.

Bloom, B.S., Engelhart, M.D., Furst, E.J., Hill, W.H., & Krathwohl, D.R. (Eds.). (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives – The Classification of Educational Goals – Handbook 1: Cognitive Domain. London, WI: Longmans, Green & Co. Ltd.

Forehand, M. (2005). Bloom’s taxonomy: Original and revised. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging Perspectives on Learning, Teaching, and Technology. Retrieved on July 7, 2009, from: http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Bloom%27s_Taxonomy

Krathwohl, D.R. (2002). A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy: An overview [Electronic Version]. Theory into Practice, Volume 41, Number 4, Autumn 2002, pp. 212-218.