The Cognitive Domain

(This material is adapted from Bill Huitt's page on Bloom et al.'s Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain .)

Bloom et al.'s Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain

Beginning in 1948, a group of educators undertook the task of classifying education goals and objectives. The intention was to develop a classification system for three domains: the cognitive, the affective, and the psychomotor. Work on the cognitive domain was completed in 1956 and is commonly referred to as Bloom's Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain although the full title was Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals. Handbook I: Cognitive domain with the text having 4 other authors (M. Englehart, E. Furst, W. Hill, and D Krathwohl).

The major idea of the taxonomy is that what educators want students to know (and, therefore, statements of educational objectives) can be arranged in a hierarchy from less to more complex. The taxonomy is presented below with sample verbs and a sample behavior statement for each level. In general, research over the last 40 years has confirmed the taxonomy as a hierarchy with the exception of the top two levels. It is uncertain at this time whether synthesis and evaluation should be reversed (i.e., evaluation is less difficult to accomplish than synthesis) or whether synthesis and evaluation are at the same level of difficulty but use different cognitive processes.

In any case it is clear that students can "know" about a topic or subject at different levels. While most teacher-made tests still test at the lower levels of the taxonomy, research has shown that students remember more when they have learned to handle the topic at the higher levels of the taxonomy.

LEVEL DEFINITION SAMPLE
VERBS
SAMPLE
BEHAVIORS
EVALUATION Student appraises, assesses, or critiques on a basis of specific standards and criteria. Use
Judge
Recommend
Critique
Justify
The student will judge the effectiveness of writing objectives using Bloom's taxonomy.
SYNTHESIS Student originates, integrates, and combines ideas into a product, plan or proposal that is new to him or her. Create
Design
Hypothesize
Invent
Develop
The student will design a classification scheme for writing educational objectives that combines the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains.
ANALYSIS Student distinguishes, classifies, and relates the assumptions, hypotheses, evidence, or structure of a statement or question. Analyze
Categorize
Compare
Contrast
Separate
The student will compare and contrast the cognitive and affective domains.
APPLICATION Student selects, transfers, and uses data and principles to complete a problem or task with a minimum of direction. Use
Compute
Solve
Demonstrate
Apply
Construct
The student will write an instructional objective for each level of Bloom's taxonomy.
COMPREHENSION Student translates, comprehends, or interprets information based on prior learning. Explain
Summarize
Paraphrase
Describe
Illustrate
The student will explain the purpose of Bloom's taxonomy of the cognitive domain.
KNOWLEDGE Student recalls or recognizes information, ideas, and principles in the approximate form in which they were learned. Write
List
Label
Name
State
Define
The student will define the 6 levels of Bloom's taxonomy of the cognitive domain.
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