Bloom’s taxonomy and revised taxonomy of cognitive educational objectives

Posted by Greten on 25 Feb 2023 under Terms, Theories, Tips

The Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, sometimes known as Bloom's taxonomy, is a framework for writing and classifying educational objectives to provide a shared vocabulary for educators to discuss learning results.

Bloom's taxonomy was first introduced in the 1950s by educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom and his colleagues David Krathwohl, Edward Furst, Max Englehart, and Walter Hill. It can be used to create lesson plans and modules in teaching, training, and elearning to ensure that learners engage with lessons of varying difficulty. It can also help trainers and educators design tools for assessing various types of learning, such as multiple-choice questions for lower-order thinking abilities and open-ended questions for higher-order thinking abilities.

Bloom's taxonomy (original)

According to Bloom and his team, there are three domains of learning: cognitive, affective, and psychomotor. The original Bloom's taxonomy of learning objectives covers only the cognitive domain.

Close up view of three darts hitting a dartboard.

The cognitive domain addresses intellectual or mental abilities such as knowledge, comprehension, analysis, synthesis, evaluation, and application. It entails the growth of cognitive talents, problem-solving ability, and knowledge gain. This domain, for which the taxonomy is most well-known and extensively used, is subdivided into six cognitive complexity levels.

  • Knowledge: Recalling factual information such as terminology, dates, and names.
  • Comprehension: Understanding the meaning of the material, such as identifying primary ideas or summarizing significant concepts.
  • Application: Using the information learned in a new context or applying it to solve a problem.
  • Analysis: Complex information can be broken down into smaller sections, and examining the links between those sections.
  • Synthesis: Creation of something new by blending various elements or ideas.
  • Evaluation: Judgments or conclusions were made based on criteria and evidence from the information learned.

Bloom and his team added the affective domain in 1964, and while Bloom himself was not involved in creating a taxonomy for the psychomotor domain, many educators proposed different taxonomies based on his work. The affective and psychomotor domains will be covered in the next two entries. For now, let's jump to the revision of cognitive educational objectives introduced in 2001.

Revised Bloom's taxonomy

A group of educational psychologists led by Lorin Anderson, a former student of Benjamin Bloom, developed the revised Bloom's taxonomy in 2001. The group includes David Krathwohl, Peter Airasian, Kathleen Cruikshank, Richard Mayer, Paul Pintrich, James Raths, and Merlin Wittrock. This team improved and expanded Bloom's original taxonomy to better represent modern educational practices and incorporate new research in cognitive psychology and learning theory. As a result, the new taxonomy is now widely used in education, particularly in curriculum, assessment, and instructional design.

This framework organizes educational goals into a hierarchical structure based on the level of cognitive complexity required to achieve them. The taxonomy has six tiers of learning objectives, spanning from lower-order to higher-order thinking skills. These labels have names that are almost synonymous with the original taxonomy. The main difference is that creating, which is analogous to synthesis, is the top domain instead of being second from the top.


Remembering involves recalling previously learned information or concepts. Tasks at this level include listing, defining, and identifying. For example, you may ask the learners to recall the names of the planets in our solar system or to explain a specific vocabulary word.


Understanding involves comprehending or interpreting previously learned information. Tasks at this level include summarizing, explaining, and interpreting. For instance, you may ask the learners to summarize the central concept of a piece they have read or to explain the significance of a historical event.


Appliying means using knowledge or abilities in a new or different environment. This level involves tasks like demonstrating, illustrating, and employing. For example, you can request the learners solve a problem using a mathematical formula or demonstrate how to properly operate laboratory equipment.


Analyzing entails breaking complex information into smaller sections and putting it back together properly comprehend it. This also involves taking a part of the information learned and connecting it to another part taken from prior knowledge or experience. Tasks at this level involve comparing, organizing, and deconstructing. For instance, you may ask the learners to relate what they learned today to a topic they learned  the previous quarter.


Evaluating means making judgments or conclusions based on the acquired information or concept. Critiquing, justifying, and defending are all part of this level. For instance, you can give the learners tasks such as assessing a source's reliability or supporting a stance on a contentious issue.


The highest level of Bloom's taxonomy encompasses creating new ideas or goods based on previously acquired information or skills. Tasks at this level include designing, inventing, and creating. For example, you may require a learner to design a new product or to make artwork that expresses a specific notion.

Measurable verbs of cognitive learning objectives

A learning objective must start with an action word or verb. Having been influenced by the behaviorist approach to learning, Bloom's taxonomy can help you determine that learning occurred if the learner demonstrated something by action. For example, the following objectives are not written in the best way they can be:

Know the eight planets of the solar system.

Comprehend the parabolic path of projectile motion.

Ideate different ways we can save Earth from climate change.

Know, comprehend, and ideate are events that happen within the mind of an individual learner. Unless you or one of your colleagues has mind-reading powers, there is no way for you to know that the learners actually knew or comprehended the lesson or were able to ideate from what they learned. Therefore, you should rewrite these learning objectives as follows:

Enumerate the eight planets of the solar system.

Determine the position of an object in projectile motion at a given time using its initial velocity.

Create a presentation showing the various ways we can save Earth from climate change.

Notice that each objective now begins with actions that learners must take? These actions are observable and measurable.

To use Bloom's taxonomy, you must be familiar with the verbs associated with each level and write your learning objectives using these verbs. The table below lists some of these verbs and their corresponding levels.

Bloom's taxonomy (original) Revised Bloom's taxonomy Verbs
Synthesis Creating assemble, build, create, compose, construct, design, develop, formulate, invent, generate, derive, modify
Evaluation Evaluating appraise, argue, choose, compare, contrast, convince, defend, determine, evaluate, grade, judge, justify, relate, select, support, value
Analysis Analyzing analyze, associate, break down, categorize, classify, compare, contrast, diagram, distinguish, examine, illustrate, simplify
Application Applying apply, calculate, demonstrate, determine, illustrate, interpret, predict, model, perform, present, solve, use
Comprehension Understanding contrast, describe, discuss, explain, give original examples of, identify, interpret, paraphrase, restate, summarize
Knowledge Remembering cite, define, identify, label, list, match, name, outline, quote, recall, recite, recognize, state

Notice that "determine" appeared under both evaluating and applying. Bloom's taxonomy is a valuable guide to construct observable and measurable learning objectives, but not a rule. It is the entirety of an objective that determines which level of learning the course would like to achieve, not just the verb in the beginning.


Bloom's taxonomy is a helpful tool for educators to create learning objectives. Educators can better create activities and evaluations that foster higher-order thinking abilities and more profound reinforcement of knowledge by providing learning activities that cater to all cognitive levels. Using the six levels of the cognitive domain and their associated verbs as a guide in writing learning objectives, educators ensure that their learners are learning purposefully rather than simply following through the motion.


Last updated on 04 Mar 2023.

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