Pace University students looking at their laptop computers

Bloom’s Taxonomy and Learning Objectives

Objectives (learning goals) are important to establish in a pedagogical interchange so that teachers and students alike understand the purpose of that interchange.

Organizing objectives helps to clarify objectives for themselves and for students.

Having an organized set of objectives helps teachers to:

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

A group of cognitive psychologists, curriculum theorists and instructional researchers, and testing and assessment specialists published in 2001 a revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy with the title A Taxonomy for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment. This title draws attention away from the somewhat static notion of “educational objectives” (in Bloom’s original title) and points to a more dynamic conception of classification.

The authors of the revised taxonomy underscore this dynamism, using verbs and gerunds to label their categories and subcategories (rather than the nouns of the original taxonomy). These “action words” describe the cognitive processes by which thinkers encounter and work with knowledge:

  • Remember
    • Recognizing
    • Recalling
  • Understand
    • Interpreting
    • Exemplifying
    • Classifying
    • Summarizing
    • Inferring
    • Comparing
    • Explaining
  • Apply
    • Executing
    • Implementing
  • Analyze
    • Differentiating
    • Organizing
    • Attributing
  • Evaluate
    • Checking
    • Critiquing
  • Create
    • Generating
    • Planning
    • Producing

So what does all this me? Well in a nutshell, depending on the level of the course (i.e., 100, 200, 300, or 400 level), the words you would use to develop learning objectives would fall into one of the six categories above. For example, when we create a 100 level course, we want students to remember and understand the content. So when developing the learning objectives we would use words/sentences like:

  • Describe why the sky is blue
  • Identify the colors of the rainbow

As you go up in the course level, you would do down the categories. Generally,

  • 100-Level
    • Remember
    • Understand
  • 200-Level
    • Understand
    • Apply
    • Analyze
  • 300-Level
    • Apply
    • Analyze
    • Evaluate
  • 400-level
    • Evaluate
    • Create

When developing Course Objectives it’s the type of knowledge you want the student to retain. For Course Objectives, we use the four types of knowledge and apply each to a course level as indicated below.

  • Factual Knowledge (100-Level)
    • Knowledge of terminology
    • Knowledge of specific details and elements
  • Conceptual Knowledge (200-Level)
    • Knowledge of classifications and categories
    • Knowledge of principles and generalizations
    • Knowledge of theories, models, and structures
  • Procedural Knowledge (300-Level)
    • Knowledge of subject-specific skills and algorithms
    • Knowledge of subject-specific techniques and methods
    • Knowledge of criteria for determining when to use appropriate procedures
  • Metacognitive Knowledge (400-Level)
    • Strategic Knowledge
    • Knowledge about cognitive tasks, including appropriate contextual and conditional knowledge
    • Self-knowledge

The Instructional Design team is here to help you develop your course as well as the Course and Student Learning Objectives. Knowing the objectives (both weekly and overall) before you start developing materials will make the development of your course considerably easier.