Bloom's Taxonomy

The following article discusses the use of Bloom's Taxonomy to support the development of educational objectives.

What is Bloom’s Taxonomy? 

A group of educational researchers led by Dr Benjamin Bloom developed a model for educational objectives in the 1950s to help improve critical thinking in schools. This taxonomy was grouped into three domains;

  1. The Cognitive Domain: the acquisition of knowledge.
  2. The Affective Domain: the emotions and attitudes to learning.
  3. The Psychomotor Domain: the actions and motor skills students need to learn.

The hierarchical ordering of cognitive skills into six levels in the Cognitive Domain became one of the most prominent and influential ideas in education. This framework of lower to higher-order thinking skills has become a foundational approach in the development and writing of learning outcomes.

In the following video John Spencer explains how Blooms Taxonomy has developed, and some of the criticisms and limitations of this educational model.

Alternatives to Bloom's taxonomy

In the 1982 John Biggs and Kevin Collis developed the SOLO taxonomy which incorporates more recent understanding of cognitive development.  You can read more about how the SOLO taxonomy can be used in education in the following web resource: 

Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy 

In 2001 a group of cognitive psychologists, curriculum theorists and instructional researchers, published a revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy with the title A Taxonomy for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment.  The revised version of Bloom’s Taxonomy is also commonly referred to simply as Bloom’s Taxonomy even though the two taxonomies do vary to some degree. In the revised model the nouns in the original are replaced with verbs to reflect more dynamic understandings of student learning. A typical illustration that depicts a modern version of Bloom's Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain is shown below.

Illustration by Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching, used under a creative commons license.

Why use Bloom’s revised Taxonomy?  

Although some of the ideas behind Bloom's Taxonomy have dated over time, is has remained a useful framework defining learning outcomes and designing learning activities, assessments, and rubrics to support Constructive Alignment. Because Bloom's revised taxonomy classifies verbs (remember, understand, apply, analyse, evaluate, create, etc.) into a hierarchical structure it can assist in the development of learning outcomes where students can demonstrate their understanding by 'doing' things.

The revised model challenges older education approaches that focused on knowing things and recalling them alone (i.e. teaching to the 'test'). Bloom's verbs instead help to identify what students must be able to do to demonstrate their learning, thereby supporting the development of 'real world' or authentic skills.

Having a set of learning outcomes based on Bloom's revised taxonomy helps teachers to: 

“plan and deliver appropriate instruction” 
“design valid assessment tasks and strategies” 
“ensure that instruction and assessment are aligned with the objectives.”

 (Anderson et al., 2001) 

The Cognitive Dimension & The Knowledge Dimension 

In Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy the cognitive process dimension is distinguished from the knowledge dimension. The cognitive process dimension is what is represented in the typical illustration of the taxonomy above. These “action words” describe the cognitive processes by which thinkers encounter and work with knowledge.

The knowledge dimension is made up of four distinct parts of increasing complexity:

  1. Factual Knowledge – The basic elements students must know to be acquainted with a discipline or solve problems in it.
  2. Conceptual Knowledge – The interrelationships among the basic elements within a larger structure that enable them to function together.
  3. Procedural Knowledge – How to do something, methods of inquiry, and criteria for using skills, algorithms, techniques, and methods.
  4. Metacognitive Knowledge – Knowledge of cognition in general as well as awareness and knowledge of one’s own cognition.

To get a better understanding of how the knowledge and cognitive process dimension are interrelated see Table I below which provides example learning outcomes. 

Table I: 
Cognitive Dimension & The Knowledge Dimension 


The Knowledge Dimension 


The basic elements a student must know to be acquainted with a discipline or solve problems in it.


The interrelationships among the basic elements within a larger structure that enable them to function together.



How to do something, methods of inquiry, and criteria for using skills, algorithms, techniques, and methods.



Knowledge of cognition in general as well as awareness and knowledge of one’s own cognition


The Cognitive Process Dimension 


Retrieve relevant knowledge from long-term memory.

Remember + Factual 

List primary and secondary colors.

Remember + Conceptual 

Recognize symptoms of exhaustion.


Remember + Procedural 

Recall how to perform CPR.


Remember + Metacognitive 

Identify strategies for retaining information.



Construct meaning from instructional messages, including oral, written and graphic communication.

Understand + Factual 

Summarize features of a new product.

Understand + Conceptual 

Classify adhesives by toxicity.

Understand + Procedural

Clarify assembly instructions.

Understand + Metacognitive 

Predict one’s response to culture shock.


Carry out or use a procedure in a given situation.

Apply + Factual 

Respond to frequently asked questions.


Apply + Conceptual 

Provide advice to novices.

Apply + Procedural

Carry out pH tests of water samples.


Apply + Metacognitive 

Use techniques that match one's strengths.



Break material into foundational parts and determine how parts relate to one another and the overall structure or purpose

Analyse + Factual 

Select the most complete list of activities.


Analyse + Conceptual 

Differentiate high and low culture.

Analyse + Procedural

Integrate compliance with regulations.


Analyse + Metacognitive  

Deconstruct one's biases.



Make judgments based on criteria and standards.

Evaluate + Factual 

Check for consistency among sources.

Evaluate + Conceptual 

Determine relevance of results.


Evaluate + Procedural

Judge efficiency of sampling techniques.


Evaluate + Metacognitive 

Reflect on one's progress.



Put elements together to form a coherent whole; reorganize into a new pattern or structure.

Create + Factual 

Generate a log of daily activities.


Create + Conceptual 

Assemble a team of experts.

Create + Procedural

Design efficient project workflow.

Create + Metacognitive 

Create a learning portfolio.


Adapted from Iowa State University (n.d.)

Bloom's Action verbs 

Below is a table of action verbs adapted from Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy, (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001). These progress from lower-order to higher order thinking skills. Using verb lists such as the one below can assist educators to develop meaningful learning outcomes that target different levels of cognitive complexity.







Define, Identify, Describe, Recognise, Tell, Explain, Recite, Memorize, Illustrate, Quote, State, Match, Select, Examine, Locate, Recite, Enumerate, Record, List, Quote, Label 

Summarise, Interpret, Classify, Compare, Contrast, Infer, Relate, Extract, Paraphrase, Cite, Discuss, Distinguish, Delineate, Extend, Predict, Indicate, Translate, Inquire, Associate, Explore Convert 


Solve, Change, Relate, Complete, Use, Sketch, Teach, Articulate, Discover, Transfer, Show, Demonstrate, Involve, Dramatise, Produce, Report, Act, Respond, Administer, Actuate, Prepare, Manipulate 

Contrast, Connect, Relate, Devise, Correlate, Illustrate, Distill, Conclude, Categorize, Take Apart, Problem-Solve, Differentiate, Deduce, Conclude, Devise, Subdivide, Calculate, Order, Adapt 

Criticise, Reframe, Judge, Defend, Appraise, Value, Prioritize Plan, Grade, Reframe, Revise, Refine, Grade, Argue, Support, Evolve, Decide, Re-design, Pivot 

Design, Modify, Role-Play, Develop, Rewrite, Pivot, Modify, Collaborate, Invent, Write, Formulate, Invent, Imagine 

Further Resources


Anderson, L., Krathwohl, D., Airasian, P., Cruikshank, K., Mayer, R., Pintrich, P., Raths, J. & Wittrock, M. (2001). A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. Allyn & Bacon. Boston, MA (Pearson Education Group) 

Armstrong, P. (2010). Bloom’s Taxonomy. Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching. 

Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy. (n.d.). Iowa State University.  

(Please note - it's better to refer to the Online version rather than export, as it's always up to date)