Sunday, November 6, 2011

Is Your Bloom's Taxonomy Outdated?

Health care educators have been using Bloom’s taxonomy for decades to build goals and objectives. The original levels cited by Bloom inlcude — come on, recite them with me now — knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

The trouble is, I keep hearing bright, competent, high-level educators still using those terms.


Yep, that’s right, the taxonomy being cited over and over again, on lesson plans and course syllabi, at faculty meetings and educational conferences — including one I just returned from — are woefully outdated.

Here, then, is a reasonably quick update on the “new” changes to Bloom’s original taxonomy.

Basic changes

Anderson and Krathwohl led an interdisciplinary team of experts in cognitive psychology, educational testing, and curriculum and instruction. The team worked to bring to Bloom’s innovative framework greater relevance to modern education.

The most obvious but perhaps least important changes that came out of that effort occurred in the language used for the levels of learning. The diagram below compares the levels in the original and revised versions.

Click to enlarge.

The revision team decided on using verbs instead of nouns to label the levels. It also did a bit of rearranging of levels to make the hierarchy more conceptually consistent.

The real changes, though, go much deeper than swapping nouns for gerunds.

Core change

The revised taxonomy restructures Bloom’s straightforward but one-dimensional language into a more complex, multi-layered one. The new taxonomy incorporates — intersects, if you will — different types of knowledge at each level of learning. Those types of knowledge include factual, conceptual, procedural, and metacognitive (below).

Now, it’s beyond the scope of this post, not to mention my own rather limited knowledge in this area, to delve into every level and type of knowledge. I will, however, point you to some outstanding resources (listed at the bottom) that show far better than I could how much more robust and useful the revised taxonomy is than the original.

Here’s hoping that this info will help you revise your own syllabi and lesson plans to include the brandy-spanking new, nearly 12-year-old taxonomy from our dear, departed friend, Dr. Benjamin Samuel Bloom (1913–1999).


Lists of verbs for the revised taxonomy