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Bloom's Taxonomy and the Cognitive Processes

by Dimitri

What is Bloom's Taxonomy?

The story in regards to the cognitive processes began in 1948, when a group of educators embarked on the journey of categorizing educational goals and objectives. Their main area of interest was three domains which needed to be classified. They were: the cognitive, the affective, and the psychomotor. So when the classification was finished and the work came to an end the cognitive domain surfaced in the 1950s and was known as Bloom's Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain. There were other taxonomies developed in the process as well but by a group of other educators who focused their interest on affective and psychomotor domains.

Before we go any further it is important to know what taxonomy means as it is not every day you hear this word and it may be that most people will never even use this word. The word “taxonomy” simply means a certain way to group things together. For e.g. in biology classes’ Linnaean taxonomy is most renowned where you have a bunch of animals and you can group them according to various characteristics and give them or assign them names. Bloom's taxonomy is somewhat similar to this where three domains were classified as follows:

  • The cognitive – which is a knowledge based domain, comprising of six levels
  • The affective – which is an attitudinal based domain, comprising of five levels, and
  • The psychomotor – which is a skills based domain, comprising of six levels

The idea behind Bloom's Taxonomy was to create some sort of technique to classify thinking behaviors that were considered to be an important component in the processes of learning. After a period of time this framework of learning became taxonomy of three domains.

If you go in-depth you will be highly amazed how the Bloom's Taxonomy model is structured. It is said to be a multi-tiered model of categorizing the thinking process according to six cognitive levels of difficulty. Through the sands of time these levels have been given various names, such as a stairway, that lead many educators to motivate their pupils to "climb to a higher domain of thought." The uppermost three planes are: analysis, synthesis, and evaluation and the lowermost three levels are called: knowledge, comprehension, and application. This taxonomy is said to hierarchical; meaning that level is incorporated by the greater levels. In common terms, you as a student operational at the 'application' level has also conquered the matter at the 'knowledge' and 'comprehension ‘planes’. Once you understand this pattern then it will become clear to you that these levels flow at different levels in harmony that is divided into lower and higher level thinking.

Over the years some changes have been made to the Bloom's Taxonomy model and they may seem dramatic at first, however, they are quite logical and make perfect sense when carefully inspected. If you look at Bloom's Taxonomy model it appears to be one-dimensional, however the improvised version that can be seen in the table below is a two-dimensional model. Furthermore, in the two dimensional model one of the dimensions recognizes The Knowledge Dimension (or the type of knowledge to be acquired) while the second signifies The Cognitive Process Dimension (or the means used to learn). Moreover, as seen below in the table it is evident that their intersection (the knowledge and cognitive process categories) form twenty-four separate cells.

If you go in-depth, you will see that the Knowledge Dimension is arranged on the left side and comprises of four levels that are conveyed as Factual, Conceptual, Procedural, and Meta-Cognitive. The Cognitive Process Dimension throughout the top of the grid comprises of six levels that are segregated as Remember, Understand, Apply, Analyze, Evaluate, and Create. Moreover, each plane of both these dimensions in the table is then further subdivided.

Furthermore, as you can see, in the table below every single piece of the of the four Knowledge Dimension planes is sectioned further into either three or four categories (i.e. Factual is split into Factual, Knowledge of Terminology, and Knowledge of Specific Details and Elements). The Cognitive Process Dimension levels are also further divided into a number of sectors in each level that ranged from a low of three to a high of eight categories. Additionally, the improvised table has further divided Remember into the three categories of Remember, Recognizing, and Recalling whereas the Understanding level is divided into eight separate categories. Therefore, the resultant framework that contains 19 subcategories is mostly useful for educators and teachers in both writing aims and bring into line guidelines with curricular.

To summarize, through the sands of time, Bloom's Taxonomy has not only evolved from one dimension to two dimension conceptual model that included terms such as above average and low level thinking, it has been closely associated with multiple intelligences problem solving skills, creative and critical thinking, and more recently, technology integration as well.

So if you want to see a simulation of the Revised Taxonomy model, you can do so by using, a lesson aimed upon the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears that is presented here for every single rank of the Cognitive Process as shown on the Revised Taxonomy Table.

Remember: Describe where Goldilocks lived.

Understand: Summarize what the Goldilocks story was about.

Apply: Construct a theory as to why Goldilocks went into the house.

Analyze: Differentiate between how Goldilocks reacted and how you would react in each story event.

Evaluate: Assess whether or not you think this really happened to Goldilocks.

Create: Compose a song, skit, poem, or rap to convey the Goldilocks story in a new form.




The above mentioned demonstration is one of the simplest applications of Bloom's Taxonomy. However, more complex functions are also performed to get a better grip of concepts through the utility of the Revised Taxonomy Table. The Bloom's Taxonomy is a constant work in evolution and is said to be constantly developing and perhaps that might be true with each passage of time, a new, perhaps a three dimensional classification may arise.











Factual Knowledge

Elements & Components

Label map
List names

Interpret paragraph
Summarize book

Use math algorithm

Categorize words

Critique article

Create short story

Conceptual Knowledge


Define levels of cognitive taxonomy

Describe taxonomy in own words

Write objectives using taxonomy

Differentiate levels of cognitive taxonomy

Critique written objectives

Create new classification system

Procedural Knowledge

Specific Skills & Techniques
Criteria for Use

List steps in problem solving

Paraphrase problem solving process in own words

Use problem solving process for assigned task

Compare convergent and divergent techniques

Critique appropriateness of techniques used in case analysis

Develop original approach to problem solving

Meta-Cognitive Knowledge

General Knowledge
Self Knowledge

List elements of personal learning style

Describe implications of learning style

Develop study skills appropriate to learning style

Compare elements of dimensions in learning style

Critique appropriateness of particular learning style theory to own learning

Create an original learning style theory


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