A Taxonomy of Educational Objectives1, developed by Benjamin Bloom and colleagues, is the most widely used learning taxonomy in education. Originally published in 1956, it was revised in 2001 by David Krathwohl.
The taxonomy classifies learning into six main categories with basic, factual learning at the base or foundation and higher order skills and abilities at the top. The verbs at each level reflect the learners’ cognitive processes when working with knowledge. These skills and abilities build from simple to complex.
Bloom’s Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain is commonly represented in a pyramid, with associated observable and measurable verbs for each level of knowledge.
Applying Bloom’s Taxonomy to Your Learning outcomes
The table below identifies verbs that articulate measurable ways to observe your learning outcomes.
Note: This table is not a comprehensive list of verbs.
It is also important to note that the assessment methods you use in your course should match the level of learning articulated in your learning outcomes as verbs can be representative of learning at more than one level, depending on the context.
Describe the responsibilities of students during their internship.
Describe the rationale you applied to your decision-making process when faced with challenges during your internship.
Levels of Learning in Different Learning Domains
John Bigg’s SOLO Taxonomy, Dee Fink’s Taxonomy of Significant Learning and David Krathwohl’s Affective Domain Taxonomy are among some of the other learning taxonomies that are widely ascribed to across higher education. Regardless of which Taxonomy you subscribe to, what’s most important is to identify the level of learning you want students to reach and this should be clearly articulated in your learning outcome.
Anderson, L. W., Krathwohl, D. R., Airasian, P. W., Cruikshank, K. A., Mayer, R. E., Pintrich, P. R., Raths, J., & Wittrock, M. C. (2001). A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. New York: Longman.
For more information, see this Guide to Taxonomies of Learning Outcomes.
For learning outcomes that focus on attitudes, motivation, values, etc. Krathwohl, Bloom, & Masia’s five categories in the Affective Domain can be used to write learning outcomes.
For discipline areas that target procedural learning, techniques in task performance, precision, etc. Simpson’s seven categories in the Psychomotor Domain could also help guide the learning outcomes.