The Potential of Bloom’s Taxonomy (Handbook 1: Cognitive Domain) “Surprise” Educational Reforms are Possible

The excerpts that follow may be found in the original source material.

Bloom, B. S. (Ed.). (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals–Handbook 1 [the] cognitive domain. New York, NY: David McKay, Inc.

Historical Perspective 

The idea for this classification system was formed at an informal meeting of college examiners attending the 1948 American Psychological Association Convention….  This meeting became the first of a series of informal annual meetings of college examiners.  Gathering at a different university each year and with some changes in membership, this group … considered the problems involved in organizing a classification of educational objectives….  [Although the members of this cohort (including Benjamin S. Bloom) have accepted responsibility for producing the taxonomy], ‘credit’ for ideas, suggestions, and sound criticism should be distributed more widely among all those who have attended one or more meetings of the group. (pp. 4-5)

[As indicated], this Handbook is truly a group product.  It is the direct outgrowth of the thinking of over thirty persons who attended the taxonomy conferences.  It is based on the work of … test constructors, curriculum workers, and [practitioners].  Several hundred readers of the preliminary edition [i.e. 1000 copies] … contributed criticisms, suggestions, and illustrative materials. (p. 9)

Therefore, “we” ought to think — long and hard — before we reinvent the wheel!  In recent months, I have read several posts which convey an array of confusing alternatives to the “classic” framework (i.e. classification schemes for developing curriculum and subsequent … learning experiences).  It is doubtful that a few misguided (ouch) individuals have conceptualized a more rational approach to enhance the learning experiences of “all” children.  In addition to many misinformed practitioners, I am sure that few political operatives (including those pressing for more testing) possess a fundamental understanding of how the classic framework (i.e. Blooms Taxonomy) may be applied to maximize the outcomes of schooling in a global society.  As described above, many dedicated people worked (for several years) to construct a classification system that “remains” relevant as the 21st century unfolds.  Out of respect for the innovators whom contributed to the 1956 framework, “we” ought to (re)examine the original material “before advocating alternatives”.

The rapid pace of technological change and the growing interconnectedness of communication systems throughout the world necessitates that dynamic curriculums materialize in our schools.  Dynamic instructional programs are considerate of global affairs, indicative of social and workplace requirements and responsive to the needs of students.  Such programs maximize the potential of students by providing them with multiple pathways to success.  Therefore, “we” ought not place an emphasis on prepackaged curriculums (or standardized tests).  Shifting our focus away from “canned” learning by placing our sights (i.e. goals) on educational reforms that perpetuate dynamic instructional programs can be easily accomplished when “all” stakeholders are properly informed about the applications associated with the taxonomy developed by Bloom et al.

Still Reading? — That’s Great!  I shall strive to overcome my weariness and begin framing “our” conceptual doctrine.

We must not rebel against all testing; testing is most appropriate when measuring those outcomes that are associated with knowledge, comprehension, and the application of “essential” knowledge and/or skills (i.e. competencies).  These fundamental tiers of Bloom’s 1956 hierarchical taxonomy are essential pre-requisites to three additional and progressively more complex outcomes (i.e. analysis, synthesis and evaluation) that comprise the classic framework.  Outcomes which align with the latter categories are indicative of “higher-order” thought processes which are enhanced when students engage in independent and/or socially charged learning experiences (which are not conducive to standardized assessment strategies).  Each of these “six” hierarchical categories are composed of several sub-categories which are also organized as hierarchical pre-requisites to those that follow.


… simpler behaviors may be viewed as components of the more complex behaviors….  [So], behaviors of type A [Knowledge] form one class, behaviors of type AB [Knowledge and Comprehension] form another class, while behaviors of type ABC [Knowledge, Comprehension & Application] form still another class [etc.]. (pp. 16,18).

It is essential that “we” conceptualize the taxonomy as being comprised of two distinct (i.e. Dichotomous) halves if we are to comprehend the potential of establishing a contemporary framework for teaching and learning.  As such, the lower three categories of Bloom’s Taxonomy are indicative of learning experiences which are fundamentally Teacher-centered (or Competency-based).  While the latter three categories of this framework are … aligned with Student-centered learning.  Therefore, assessment strategies (including the utilization of performance-based instruments such as procedural checklists) that are aligned with the acquisition of “fundamental” knowledge and skills ought to be employed “until” students can demonstrate that they are capable of “applying” the target competency.  However, “if” our society intends to perpetuate and evaluate higher-order thought processes (which are indicative of progressively more complex applications of knowledge and skills); then, we must sanction strategies for learning (and assessment) that are aligned with the unique characteristics “being developed” by individuals.  Thus, the stage has been set!  We ought to consider the potential of applying Bloom’s Taxonomy to perpetuate a Dichotomous framework for teaching and learning!

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Filed under Blooms Taxonomy, Curriculum and Instruction, Education, Instructional Design, professional Development, School Reform Initiatives & Professional Development Strategies, Teaching, The Common Core

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