How To Use Bloom’s Taxonomy To Write Learning Outcomes


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How To Use Bloom’s Taxonomy To Write Learning Outcomes

By: Scott Davis Business Analyst, Pearson

It is often quite difficult to relate inputs to outcomes in the world of education. Traditionally, much work has been done to develop and provide inputs into the process of education. These inputs, such as a textbook, an assessment, a learning technology or platform, a course, a qualification, a high-stakes test or professional development for teachers are put into the hands of an educational leader, a skillful teacher, or an eager student. And, for all of the investment, expertise, and care that go into their creation, that has typically been where the involvement ends. Rarely has one been able to measure or predict the learning outcomes from using these inputs.

If we are going to really understand how we might be impacting student learning we must do two things. First we must define our student learning outcomes – these are the goals that describe how a student will be different because of a learning experience. The focus should be on what a student will be able to do with the information or experience. And second, we must measure if the program or service implemented to facilitate the learning was effective.

Defining Learning Outcomes

It may be difficult to know where to start in writing a student learning outcome. And you are not alone in facing the challenge of relating educational inputs to learning outcomes and understanding your impact on student learning. Learning taxonomies are a valuable tool for classifying learning objectives. A helpful and frequently used resource when writing student learning outcomes is Bloom’s Taxonomy of Cognitive Skills. Bloom’s Taxonomy refers to a classification of the different objectives that educators set for students (learning objectives). The taxonomy was first presented in 1956 through the publication “The Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, The Classification of Educational Goals, Handbook I: Cognitive Domain” (Bloom 1956). It is considered to be a foundational and essential element within the education community as evidenced in the 1981 survey “Significant writings that have influenced the curriculum: 1906-1981″ (Shane 1981).

The committee identified three domains of educational activities or learning (Bloom, 1956):

– Cognitive: mental skills (Knowledge)
– Affective: growth in feelings or emotional areas (Attitude or self)
– Psychomotor: manual or physical skills (Skills)

The domains are further subdivided, starting from the simplest behavior to the most complex. The first of these domains is the cognitive domain, which emphasizes intellectual outcomes. This domain is further divided into categories or levels. The divisions outlined are not absolutes and there are other systems or hierarchies that have been devised in the educational and training world. However, Bloom’s taxonomy is easily understood and is probably the most widely applied one in use today.

Various researchers have summarized how to use Bloom’s Taxonomy. Following is one interpretation that can be used as a guide in helping to write objectives using Bloom’s Taxonomy. The major idea of the taxonomy is that what educators want students to know (encompassed in statements of educational objectives) can be arranged in a hierarchy from less to more complex. The levels are successive, so that one level must be mastered before the next level can be reached.

The original levels (Bloom, 1956) were ordered as follows: Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation.

Additional Information:

Bloom, B. S.; Engelhart, M. D.; Furst, E. J.; Hill, W. H.; Krathwohl, D. R. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals. Handbook I: Cognitive domain. New York: David McKay Company.

Shane, Harold G. (1981). “Significant writings that have influenced the curriculum: 1906-1981″. Phi Delta Kappan 62 (5): 311–314.

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This entry was posted in Innovation, Teaching & Learning by Paul Champion. Bookmark the permalink.

About Paul Champion

Some have called me a leader, and a entrepreneur, they say I have integrity, presence and skills to ensure continuous improvement and success in whatever challenges I face. They also tell me that I am positive, resilient and motivating. I say, I'm just a normaI guy from Gateshead in the North of England, who started as an apprentice engineer. I have been in the right place at the right time and in the wrong place at the wrong time! I have successfully initiated and led complex organizations and situations to completion and success, and I have been in some jobs where success seemed untouchable. Mainly though, I have tried to learn everyday, help people to progress and learn the skills they need to be successful. I have had the privilege of working with some great people locally across the UK and more recently internationally in Asia, Europe and now USA, where I am lucky enough to work for www.3aaa.co.uk where I am head of 3aaa USA. This website is just me having an outlet to talk about all those thoughts, ideas and things I learn that pass through my head every day when I face the challenge of doing business. I will also rant on about how great apprenticeships are, and how you can help change peoples lives through them. After all thats how I got to do the great things that I have done, and also I am still an apprentice everyday! All I ask is that if you find it interesting then leave a comment and share what you read. THANK YOU.

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