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What Is Bloom’s Taxonomy and How Can It Improve Your Classes?

Brian Rahill

May 30, 2023

As an instructor, your main goal is to help students learn. That may sound simple, but meeting the needs of a class takes planning. Building courses around a clear structure can make a big difference to the student experience. Bloom’s Taxonomy is one way to do that.

But what is Bloom’s Taxonomy and how can it help you offer a better student experience? Think of it as a framework that helps you structure your classes. Although it’s not the only option out there, it is widely recognized as a useful tool for instructors. Learning more about it can help you provide a better learning experience for students.

What Is Bloom’s Taxonomy?

Bloom’s Taxonomy is a hierarchical framework that recognizes different levels of learning. In other words, it’s a structure that can help you recognize and track student progress from basic recall through true mastery.

Bloom’s Taxonomy was originally developed by educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom in the 1950s. The original taxonomy focused on objectives. It included: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

Bloom’s Taxonomy is a framework that describes different levels of learning that can help instructors recognize and track student progress.

In 2001, learning specialists reimagined the original structure with more focus on the cognitive processes of learning. The main authors of the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy were Lorin W. Anderson and David Krathwohl. This version is most often represented as a pyramid with six levels. The base of the pyramid is memory, with higher-order thinking skills organized on this foundation.

Bloom's taxonomy visualized as a pyramid. Starting from the base and working up the text says: Remember, recall facts and basic concepts; understand, explain ideas or concepts; apply, use information in new situations; analyze, draw connections among ideas; evaluate, justify a stand or decision; create, produce new or original work
The new Bloom’s Taxonomy levels are:

  • Remember: the foundational level, involving the recall of information.
  • Understand: comprehend and interpret information and be able to discuss it. 
  • Apply: use knowledge in new situations or to solve problems. 
  • Analyze: draw connections or recognize differences between elements or ideas. 
  • Evaluate: critically assess information to make judgments.
  • Create: use all of the preceding skills to make or plan something new.

3 Ways Bloom’s Taxonomy Helps Instructors

Bloom’s Taxonomy is a vital tool for educators. It guides instructional design, helps you write better assessments, and improves the overall learning experience. Here are three benefits of using Bloom’s Taxonomy.

  1. Organize curriculum planning. By utilizing Bloom’s Taxonomy, you can set clear and measurable learning objectives for students. This helps both you and your students understand the expected outcomes of a class.

  2. Balance instruction. The taxonomy encourages instructors to provide a balanced mix of learning activities. This helps students engage with the content at varying levels of complexity, promoting deeper understanding and critical thinking.

  3. Enhance assessment practices. Bloom’s Taxonomy offers a framework for designing assessments that go beyond just memorizing facts. When you measure higher-order thinking skills you can evaluate a student’s ability to apply what they learn.

Applying Bloom’s Taxonomy in Classes

Bloom’s Taxonomy is built on the idea that higher-order thinking relies on lower-order thinking. Just as you must walk before you run, you must understand concepts before you can apply them.

The central idea is: just as you must walk before you run, you must understand concepts before you can apply them.

There are several practical ways to use Bloom’s Taxonomy in your classes. You can apply it to class planning, building assessments, or providing feedback to students.

Using Bloom’s Taxonomy for Instructional Design

Start by writing learning objectives using Bloom’s Taxonomy verbs. Match your learners to a tier of the pyramid that most accurately reflects their abilities. For example, an entry-level class may ask students to remember facts and explain concepts. An advanced-level course may focus more on analyzing and evaluating ideas or creating something new.

Here are some examples of learning outcomes for different levels of learning:

  • For an entry-level class: Students will be able to recognize and understand the major art movements of 1980s America.

  • For an advanced-level class: Students will examine and evaluate major works by American artists of the 1980s.

When designing your lessons, organize your activities so that students are moving up the pyramid as the lesson progresses. For example, you can start with a fact-gathering activity like reading. Follow this with comprehension-based discussion questions. Then, have students do an activity where they analyze and apply what they’ve learned.

For Review and Assessment

You can use Bloom’s Taxonomy to create thoughtful questions that promote higher-order thinking. Start with questions to assess understanding, and then gradually ask more challenging questions that require analysis, evaluation, and creativity. 

For example, if you’re teaching a beginner’s Spanish class, start by asking students to conjugate a verb. This proves that they remember and understand the word. Next, provide scenarios and ask them which verb form they would use for each. This shows you whether they can apply what they’ve learned.

Multiple choice and short-answer questions tend to focus on the lower levels of the pyramid. To test a student’s higher-level thinking try projects, longer essays, group discussions, or presentations.

For Feedback and Reflection

Provide targeted, constructive feedback to students that helps them improve their higher-order thinking skills. Encourage them to reflect on their learning process and guide them towards deeper understanding by asking thoughtful questions. 

Bloom’s Taxonomy is a helpful framework for instructors who want to offer meaningful learning experiences. Of course, before you can teach anyone, you need students to register for your classes. CourseStorm makes course registration simple with seamless online registration and payment processing. Start your free trial today or contact us to learn more.

Brian Rahill

Brian is a scientist-turned-education technology executive. He has founded and led technology companies for more than 20 years and uses his analytical mind and experimental approach to spur growth in small and medium businesses and start-ups. He is passionate about using technology to enhance access to lifelong learning.

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