Applying Bloom's Taxonomy to Analysis and Design

Most theorists have categorized the different types of learning into three domains: 

Higher-order learning such as understanding, intellect and skills, falls within the cognitive domain. Included in this domain is metacognition, the ability to monitor, contemplate and even change one’s own thought processes. Developing metacognition is an important part of adult learning. 

In 1956, educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom and his colleagues developed a hierarchical chart or taxonomy indicating the main types of learning. He identified various levels within each domain. For example, at the lowest cognitive level, there is simple recall or recognition of facts. The mental levels become increasingly more complex and at the highest level we find evaluation. Although many taxonomic analyses of learning behavior have been developed, Bloom’s taxonomy of learning has created a standard dialogue and is still popular for identifying and creating educational objectives and activities to facilitate better learning. 

What taxonomies can do in fact, is make the designer think about how to optimize instruction with the organization, dissemination and construction of learning and associated activities. 


One way of planning effective education would be to use the verb examples below that are associated with the various levels of learning in creating goals, performance objectives and tasks. This can help you to determine how learners can learn/demonstrate new skills and/or knowledge through the selection of various learning technologies and appropriate media.

KNOWLEDGE Learners working at this level can remember and recall information ranging from concrete to abstract.

verbs: arrange, define, describe, duplicate, enumerate, identify, label, list, match, memorize, name, order, outline, recall, recite, recognize. recollect, relate, repeat, reproduce, select, state

  • What did you see, hear, find, notice?
  • What happened? Where? When?
  • How do you make... ?
  • How do you get from here to downtown?
COMPREHENSION Learners are able to understand and make use of something communicated, and can translate, interpret and extrapolate the communication.

verbs: change, classify, construct, convert, decode, defend, define, describe, discuss, distinguish, discriminate, estimate, explain, express, extend, generalize, give example, indicate, illustrate, infer, locate, paraphrase, predict, report, restate, review, rewrite, solve, summarize, tell, translate

  • What does it mean?
  • How does it work?
  • What do you gather from it all?
APPLICATION Learners can apply appropriate concepts or abstractions to a problem or situation even when not prompted to do so.

verbs: apply, change, choose, compute, demonstrate, develop, discover, dramatize, employ, illustrate, interpret, manipulate, modify, operate, organize, practice, predict, prepare, produce, relate, schedule, solve, transfer, use, write

  • How would you use this?
  • What effect may this have?
  • How does this apply to... ?
  • Why/when/how was this done?
  • Using this method, create a different one.
ANALYSIS Learners can break down the material into its parts and define the relationship between the parts.

verbs: analyze, appraise, breakdown, calculate, classify, categorize, compare, contrast, critisize, determine, deduce, diagram, differentiate, discriminate, distinguish, examine, experiment, evaluate, identify, illustrate, infer, outline, point out, question, relate, select, separate, select, subdivide, test

  • What other facts should be considered?
  • Is this relevant?
  • Arrange this information according to topic areas.
  • Compare/contrast this with...
  • Can you see a pattern emerging?
SYNTHESIS Learners can create a product, combining parts from previous experience and new material to create a whole.

verbs: arrange, assemble, categorize, collect, combine, compile, compose, conceive, construct, create, design, develop, devise, establish, explain, formulate, generate, invent, make manage, modify, organize, originate, plan, propose, rearrange, reconstruct, relate, reorganize, revise, rewrite, set up, summarize, tell, write

  • Develop plans for a new...
  • How would this system be today if this data did not exist?
  • Design a function tool for...
  • What conclusions do you draw?
  • How can you validate your conclusions?
  • How are these ideas related?
EVALUATION Learners make judgements about the value of materials, ideas and so forth.

verbs: appraise, argue, ascertain, assess, attach, choose, compare, conclude, contrast, criticize, decide, defend, describe, discriminate, estimate, evaluate, explain, interpret, judge, justify, rate, relate, resolve, score, select, summarize, support, validate, value, write (i.e. - a review)

  • Are your methods and data accurate?
  • Why do you feel that this is the best solution?
  • Do you have enough evidence to prove this?
  • How do you feel about the other alternatives?
IMITATION Learners use the senses to obtain cues to guide motor activity.

verbs: assemble, attempt, begin, carry out, copy, calibrate, construct, dissect, duplicate, follow, mimic, move, practice, proceed, repeat, reproduce, respond, organize, sketch, start, try

MANIPULATION Learners use guidelines as a basis or foundation for the skill.

verbs: acquire, adjust, assemble, complete, conduct, create, bend, do, execute, improve, maintain, make, manipulate, modify, operate, pace, perform, practice, produce, progress, repair, use

PRECISION Learners perform without error or assistance.

verbs: achieve, accomplish, advance, automatize, exceed, excel, master, reach, refine, succeed, surpass, transcend

ARTICULATION Learners demonstrate proficiency with confidence.

verbs: adapt, alter, change, excel, rearrange, reorganize, revise, surpass, transcend

NATURALIZATION Learners demonstrate automatic mastery level performance.

verbs: arrange, combine, compose, construct, create, design, refine, originate, transcend

RECEIVING Learner exhibits a willingness to pay attention to particular information, phenomenon, or behavior and learn.

verbs: accept, acknowledge, agree, ask, attend, attempt, be aware, choose, describe, follow, give, hold, identify, listen, locate, name, receive, reply, select, show alertness, tolerate, use, view, watch, willing

VALUING Learner attaches a value or worth to a particular object, phenomenon, or behavior.

verbs: accept, adopt, approve, complete, choose, commit, defend, describe, desire, differentiate, display, endorse, exhibit, explain, express, form, initiate, invite, join, justify, offer, prefer, propose, read, report, sanction, select, share, study, work

ORGANIZATION Learner has developed a value system by integrating different values and resolving conflicts.

verbs: adapt, adhere, alter, arrange, categorize, classify, combine, compare, complete, defend, dispute, explain, establish, formulate, generalize, group, identify, integrate, modify, order, organize, prepare, rank, rate, relate, share, synthesize, systemize, volunteer

CHARACTERIZATION Learner acts according to a developed or accepted value system.

verbs: act, advocate, behave, characterize, conform, continue, cooperate, defend, devote, disclose, discriminate, display, encourage, endure, exemplify, function, incorporate, influence, join, justify, listen, maintain, modify, participate, pattern, practice, preserve, perform, question, revise, retain, support, uphold, use

© 2001 Michael Shaw