Using Blooms Taxonomy in classrooms.

What is Blooms Taxonomy? Just as a reminder this is wikipaedias entry.

Bloom’s taxonomy is a way of distinguishing the fundamental questions within the education system. It is named after Benjamin Bloom, who chaired the committee of educators that devised the taxonomy. He also edited the first volume of the standard text,Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals.Blooms_taxonomy

Bloom’s taxonomy refers to a classification of the different objectives that educators set for students (learning objectives). It divides educational objectives into three “domains”: cognitive, affective, and psychomotor (sometimes loosely described as “knowing/head”, “feeling/heart” and “doing/hands” respectively). Within the domains, learning at the higher levels is dependent on having attained prerequisite knowledge and skills at lower levels. A goal of Bloom’s taxonomy is to motivate educators to focus on all three domains, creating a more holistic form of education.

Bloom’s taxonomy is considered to be a foundational and essential element within the education community.A mythology has grown around the taxonomy, possibly due to many people learning about the taxonomy through second hand information. Bloom himself considered the Handbook “one of the most widely cited yet least read books in American education”.


What does this look like in the classroom?

Teachers can move students towards more complicated work by using questions. These can sometimes be difficult to think of on the spot, but I used to write myself some when working through lesson plans and then use them when appropriate through the lesson. The first questions we think of start usually are usually factual questions e.g. Who? What? Where? and occasionally which one? These just have one type of answer and can often be determined by the way the question is asked, or are obviously right or wrong.

However to develop the students understanding and skills further as teachers we need to use questioning techniques that support and show more in depth understanding.

To support students further, we need to start to think about what we want them to know in order that we can question effectively. so for example if we want them to evaulate more effectively our questioning should move towards  asking them to explain,

  • What does that mean? or
  • what might be happening?
  • what is meant by what was said ?

and then on towards evaluative questioning e.g.

  • Which is the best? Why?
  • What would happen if ….?
  • What do you think are the advantages of x over y ?
  • How do you feel about (changing the voting age to 16)? Why?
  • Compare and contrast (often seen in exam papers)
  • What are the similarities/differences in …

or predictive questioning

  • How might this?
  • How would you test this?

For example in Technology you could say

  • Describe the food, explain how it was made.
  • Compare it with other similar products
  • Develop ways of improving this design

alternatively in Science you could say

  • Describe the experiment
  • Explain the process
  • Compare with another similar experience
  • predict what might happen if we change x or y

This is how it may look when you now look at asking questions. Here are the verbs from Blooms Taxonomy to support you in generating questions.

Cognitive Level

Illustrative Verbs


Knowledge arrange, define, describe, duplicate, identify, label, list, match, memorize, name, order, outline, recognize, relate, recall, repeat, reproduce, select, state remembering previously learned information
Comprehension classify, convert, defend, discuss, distinguish, estimate, explain, express, extend, generalize, give example(s), identify, indicate, infer, locate, paraphrase, predict, recognize, rewrite, report, restate, review, select, summarize, translate grasping the meaning of information
Application apply, change, choose, compute, demonstrate, discover, dramatize, employ, illustrate, interpret, manipulate, modify, operate, practice, predict, prepare, produce, relate schedule, show, sketch, solve, use write applying knowledge to actual situations
Analysis analyze, appraise, breakdown, calculate, categorize, classify, compare, contrast, criticize, derive, diagram, differentiate, discriminate, distinguish, examine, experiment, identify, illustrate, infer, interpret, model, outline, point out, question, relate, select, separate, subdivide, test breaking down objects or ideas into simpler parts and seeing how the parts relate and are organized
Synthesis arrange, assemble, categorize, collect, combine, comply, compose, construct, create, design, develop, devise, explain, formulate, generate, plan, prepare, propose, rearrange, reconstruct, relate, reorganize, revise, rewrite, set up, summarize, synthesize, tell, write rearranging component ideas into a new whole
Evaluation appraise, argue, assess, attach, choose, compare, conclude, contrast, defend, describe, discriminate, estimate, evaluate, explain, judge, justify, interpret, relate, predict, rate, select, summarize, support, value making judgments based on internal evidence or external criteria