You Say Tomato, I Say Tomahto

Our Learning Design Tool setup allows you to structure your learning objectives into the learning domains of Knowledge, Skill, and Attitude, as well as learning levels (taxonomies) within each domain. Naturally, the levels within the cognitive domain are defined by Bloom's Taxonomy.

The taxonomy of the cognitive domain is named after Professor Benjamin S. Bloom of the University of Chicago, who first published these classifications in 1956.

The learning level classifications are:

  • Knowledge – able to recognize and remember facts, terms, concepts, and answers.

  • Comprehension – able to demonstrate personal understanding of facts and concepts.

  • Application – able to apply prior knowledge to solve immediate problems and identify connections and relationships.

  • Analysis – able to break down information and data into component parts, identify the casual relationship between parts, draw conclusions and develop generalizations.

  • Synthesis – able to identify patterns and create structures and processes that deal diverse elements of information and data.

  • Evaluation – able to use a variety of criteria to judge, communicate and defend the validity of ideas and the quality work processes.

After the death of Professor Bloom in 1999, a group of educational psychologists and researchers undertook an effort to ensure the taxonomy's continued relevancy. Their conclusions where published as Bloom's Taxonomy Revised in 2001.

Below is the revised level hierarchy.

  • Remember

  • Understand

  • Apply

  • Analyze

  • Evaluate

  • Create

It is significant to note that the only substantive change was to the sequence of the last two levels. Evaluation was moved to 5th place in the hierarchy and Synthesis (renamed to Create) was moved to the 6th level. All other changes where simply a renaming of the level.

I agree with the 2001 change made to the order of the 5th and 6th level…

It's logical and defendable based on the action verbs used in the taxonomy, and their relationship to the other levels.

What I do not agree with are…

the periodic harpings about each level's label, or that the number of levels should be collapsed, or the taxonomy translates to a strict teaching order.

The importance of a learning level taxonomy is in the Action Verbs associated with each learning level outcome.

Without mindful discrimination of the Action Verbs, as defined by Bloom's six categories, proper assessment of a learner's ability is not possible.

The levels have nothing to do with a teaching order of the subject. An instructional designer just needs to understand Action Verbs relate to Achievement Activities that test what a learner is "able to do" regarding the subject matter.

And finally, regarding how the category/level is named I'll quote Shakespeare … "A rose by any other name, would smell as sweet."


Written by Richard V. Michaels, M.Ed.

Chief Product Architect, Great Circle Learning
and a Microsoft Office Services MVP