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Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy – A Framework for Assessing Student Learning

Posted by on Monday, April 12, 2010 in News.

As you head into the final few weeks of classes, you’re probably starting to think about end-of-semester assessments of your students’ learning.  If you’re not familiar with Bloom’s taxonomy of learning objectives, it’s worth getting to know since the taxonomy is a useful framework for thinking about the questions we ask of our students, particularly on exams.

The original 1956 taxonomy by Benjamin Bloom and his collaborators consisted of six educational objectives: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.  If you’re familiar with Bloom’s, that’s likely the version you know.  However, there’s a lesser known 2001 revision of the taxonomy in which the objectives are described using verbs:

  • Recall – What names, dates, facts, theories, etc. do you want your students to remember?
  • Understand – What concepts and ideas do you want your students to not just recall, but understand?
  • Apply – In what situations and to which problems do you want your students to apply their skills and knowledge?
  • Analyze – In what ways are the various concepts and ideas in your course related to each other?  (It’s one thing to understand a single concept on its own; it’s another to understand how multiple concepts are connected.)
  • Evaluate – What evaluative decisions do you want your students to be able to make using the critical analysis tools and criteria of your discipline?
  • Create – What kinds of new knowledge or products do you want your students to create?

As you create your final exams and other assessments of student learning, try using this framework to match your questions to your learning objectives.  For more on Bloom’s taxonomy, see the CFT’s teaching guide.  See also CFT assistant director Derek Bruff’s blog post on using Bloom’s taxonomy to write clicker questions.

Image: “Purple Flower” by Flickr user emtboy9 / Creative Commons licensed

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