1.3 Bloom's Taxonomy

1.3 Bloom’s Taxonomy

            Being a KM professional it is essential to understand one of the key concepts “Thinking”. This understanding can enhance our ability to implement an effective KM initiative.

            So the question is "Where should we begin to understand human thinking?". Fortunately, Houghton (2004) has answered this question in these words, "One place to begin is in defining the nature of thinking. Before we can make it better, we need to know more of what it is". In literature,  Benjamin S. Bloom is commonly cited as an authentic scholar who has extensively contemplated the nature of thinking. His masterwork ‘Bloom's Taxonomy’ (Bloom, 1956) has since been translated into 22 languages and is one of the most widely applied and most often cited references in education. 

            The foundation of ‘Bloom’s Taxonomy’ can be traced back to the discussions during the 1948 Convention of the American Psychological Association which led Bloom to spearhead a group of educators who eventually undertook the ambitious task of classifying educational goals and objectives. Their intent was to develop a method of classification for thinking behaviors that were believed to be important in the processes of learning. Eventually, this framework became taxonomy of three domains:

  • The cognitive – mental skills (knowledge domain), consisting of six levels
  • The affective - attitudinal based domain, consisting of five levels, and
  • The psychomotor - skills based domain, consisting of six levels.

Domains of learning.





















         In 1956, eight years after the group first began, work on the cognitive domain was completed and a handbook commonly referred to as "Bloom's Taxonomy" was published (Forehand, 2005). In this section we will focus our attention on the cognitive domain.

Bloom's Taxonomy is a multi-tiered model of classifying thinking according to six cognitive levels of complexity which have often been depicted as a stairway.

 ‘Bloom’s Taxonomy’ is also represented as a pyramid with six distinct levels; shown in figure.

  • Knowledge: Recall data or information
  • Comprehension: Understand the meaning, translation, interpolation, and interpretation of instructions and problems. (State a problem in one's own words.)
  • Application: Use a concept in a new situation or unprompted use of an abstraction. (Applies what was learned into novel situations in the work place.)
  • Analysis: Separates material or concepts into component parts so that its organizational structure may be understood. (Distinguishes between facts and inferences.)
  • Synthesis: Builds a structure or pattern from diverse elements. (Put parts together to form a whole, with emphasis on creating a new meaning or structure.)
  • Evaluation: Make judgments about the value of ideas or materials.

            The taxonomy depicts a hierarchy in which each level is subsumed by the higher levels. In other words, someone’s   functioning at the 'application' level shows his/her mastery on the material at the 'knowledge' and 'comprehension' levels as well.  Bloom describes each category as a gerund. They are arranged in increasing order, from lower order to higher order known as: lower level thinking and higher level thinking. The lowest three levels are: knowledge, comprehension, and application. The highest three levels are: analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Each of the categories or taxonomic elements has a number of key verbs associated with it:

  • Knowledge: tell, list, describe, relate, locate, write, find, state, name
  • Comprehension: explain, interpret, outline, discuss, distinguish, predict, restate, translate, compare,  describe
  • Application: solve, show, use, illustrate, construct, complete, examine, classify
  • Analysis: analyze, distinguish, examine, compare, contrast, investigate, categorize, identify, explain, separate, advertise
  • Synthesis: create, invent, compose, predict, plan, construct, design, imagine, propose, devise, formulate
  • Evaluation: judge, select, choose, decide, justify, debate, verify, argue, recommend, assess, discuss, rate, prioritize, determine

            In the 1990's, a former student of Bloom, Lorin Anderson and David Krathwohl, revised Bloom's Taxonomy and published this- Bloom's Revised Taxonomy in 2001. This new taxonomy reflects a more active form of thinking and is perhaps more accurate. Each of the categories or taxonomic elements has a number of key verbs associated with it:


  • Remembering - Recognizing, listing, describing, identifying, retrieving, naming, locating, finding
  • Understanding - Interpreting, Summarizing, inferring, paraphrasing, classifying, comparing, explaining, exemplifying
  • Applying - Implementing, carrying out, using, executing
  • Analyzing - Comparing, organizing, deconstructing, Attributing, outlining, finding, structuring, integrating
  • Evaluating - Checking, hypothesizing, critiquing, Experimenting, judging, testing, Detecting, Monitoring
  • Creating - Designing, constructing, planning, producing, inventing, devising, making

            Although Bloom’s taxonomy is often used in educational setting,   this can also be used in a knowledge distribution environment which may be a work place.