Learning in a Technology Rich Environment NC State University LITRE Home Page

Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning (1956)

A team of researchers, including Benjamin S. Bloom, classified learning into three domains: cognitive, affective, and psychomotor. These domains were then further divided into subcategories which represented a hierarchy of the simplest types of learning to the most complex types of learning. The categories of the cognitive domain are referred to as Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning* (1956). Each successive level in this hierarchy requires mastery of all lower-level categories.

Categories in the Cognitive Domain (From simplest to most complex):

  1. Knowledge - Recall previously learned information

  2. Comprehension - Demonstrate an understanding of the meaning or purpose of previously learned information

  3. Application - Use previously learned information in novel and concrete situations

  4. Analysis - Examine the underlying components of learned information and gain an understanding of their organizational structure - This level also includes making inferences and using the information to support broader generalizations

  5. Synthesis - Integrate previously learned information and its components into new concepts

  6. Evaluation - Use definite criteria (either provided or self-created) to judge the value of other material and information

Based on:
Bloom, B. S., Englehart, M. B., 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: McKay.

Applying Bloom's Taxonomy ( Each Category with associated verbs, sample questions and activities)

Revised taxonomy

One of Bloom's former students lead a diverse group of researchers to update Bloom's original taxonomy of learning. The result of this group's work, a revised taxonomy of learning, was published in 2001*. The revised taxonomy is different from the original taxonomy in several ways. The most significant change is the use of a two-dimensional model that addresses both what is being learned and how that knowledge is being learned, rather than just a one-dimensional linear description of learning (Forehand, 2005). In addition to the change in the number of dimensions, the revised model has some renamed dimensions and uses verbs to describe the levels of learning instead of nouns. The categories of the revised taxonomy are remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating. These categories are used to describe the cognitive process (Cruz, 2003). This revised taxonomy models the interaction between these subcategories (which describe the cognitive process) and different dimensions of knowledge (factual knowledge, conceptual knowledge, procedural knowledge, and metacognitive knowledge) (Cruz, 2003). This model allows for a description of what is being learned (type of knowledge) and how it is being learned (the procedural level). A good visual representation of this taxonomy is available at http://www.odu.edu/educ/roverbau/Bloom/blooms_taxonomy.htm

Based on:
Anderson, L. W., & Krathwohl, D. R. (2001). A taxonomy learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom's taxonomoy of educational objectives. New York: Longman.


Both Bloom's taxonomy and revised taxonomy provide frameworks for people to understand and discuss the learning process (Forehand, 2005).

*More detail on both of these taxonomies can be found below at several of the websites listed under "Further Reading."

Strengths & Weaknesses

Bloom's taxonomy can and has been applied to many different learning environments and situations for a variety of purposes (i.e. designing assessments, designing coursework, designing curricula, etc.) (Forehand, 2005).

Bloom's taxonomy is relatively easy to understand (Forehand, 2005; Kottke & Schuster, 1990).

This taxonomy is widely accepted and and often referenced in the field of education (Forehand, 2005; Kottke & Schuster, 1990; Kunen et al., 1981). It has been translated and used in many countries (Forehand, 2005), which is a good demonstration of the extent of its use. Because it is widely used and accepted, these taxonomies provide a common language for the discussion of many topics in education.

The results of most empirical studies of the underlying assumptions of these models have been inconclusive (Hill & McGraw, 1981; Kottke & Schuster, 1990; Kunen, Cohen, & Solomon, 1981). Empirical research has not consistently supported many of the assumptions which have become widely accepted.

Despite widespread use of Bloom's taxonomy for identifying the types and/or difficulty of test questions, validity for use of this taxonomy for creating test questions has not been established (Blumberg, Alschuler, & Rezmovia, 1982; Kottke & Schuster, 1990).


Examples of Studies Using the Tool

Ertmer, P. A., Richardson, J. C., Belland, B., Camin, D. Connolly, P., Coulthard, G., Lei, K., Mong, C. (2007). Using peer feedback to enhance the quality of student online postings: An exploratory study. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12, 78-99.

Granello, D. H. (2001). Promoting cognitive complexity in graduate written work: Using Bloom's taxonomy as a pedagogical tool to improve literature reviews. Counselor & Supervision, 40, 292-307.

Jerry, P. & Collins, S. (2005). Web-based education in the human services: Use of Web-based video clips in counseling skills training. Journal of Techology in Human Services, 23, 183-199.


Other Similar Instruments

Bateson, G. (1973). Steps to an ecology of mind. London: Paladin.

Biggs, J. (1999). Teaching for quality learning at university , Buckingham: SRHE and Open University Press.

Säljö, R. (1979). "Learning in the Learner's Perspective: 1: some commonplace misconceptions." Reports from the Institute of Education, University of Gothenburg, 76.

Further Reading








Bloom, B. S., Englehart, M. B., 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: McKay.

Blumberg, P., Alschuler, M. D., & Rezmovic, V. (1982). Should taxonomic leels be considered in developing examinations? Educational and Psychological Measuerment, 42, 1-7.

Cruz, E. (2003). Bloom's revised taxonomy. In  B. Hoffman (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Educational Technology. Retrieved June 10, 2007, from http://coe.sdsu.edu/eet/Articles/bloomrev/start.htm

Forehand, M. . (2005). Bloom's taxonomy: Original and revised. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Available Website: http://www.coe.uga.edu/epltt/bloom.htm.

Hill, P.W., & McGaw, B. (1981). Testing the simplex assumption underlying Bloom's taxonomy. American Educational Research Journal, 18, 93-101.

Kottke, J. L., & Schuster, D. J (1990). Developing tests for measuring Bloom's learning outcomes. Psychological Reports, 66, 27-32.

Kunen, S., Cohen, R., & Solman, R. (1981). A levels-of-processing analysis of Bloom's taxonomy. Journal of Educational Psychology, 73, 202-211.