Benjamin Samuel Bloom (February 21, 1913 – September 13, 1999) was an American educational psychologist who examined and then restructured the approach to teaching, to maximise students’ performance.
His book, The Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals (1956), set out a series of learning objectives that became known as Bloom’s taxonomy. It continues to impact the way educational curricula and teaching is structured to this day. Bloom’s taxonomy divided learning into three psychological domains – cognitive (processing information), affective (attitudes and feelings) and psychomotor (physical skills).
Within those domains, his taxonomy progressed from Lower Order Thinking Skills (LOTS) to Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS), through six levels: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and then evaluation. Primarily, Bloom’s model evolved education from a case of students robotically memorising taught information to a six-level pedagogic structure. Learners first remember information; then understand it; followed by applying it (in exercises); then analysing it and, finally, being able to evaluate it at a sophisticated level.
A taxonomy provides a framework for a structured organisation of a continuum. Bloom’s gives teachers a framework to understand complex cognitive development from lower-order skills to higher-order. This framework allows them to prioritise certain activities and materials to plan their lessons, e.g. a learner would memorise a fact before being able to analyse or evaluate it. Bloom’s taxonomy sits outside any one curriculum but is a useful guide for breaking curriculum requirements into actionable chunks for lesson planning and teaching goals. Likewise, different levels require their approach to assessment and Bloom’s can be used to check that content is assessed comprehensively as well as structure assessment according to specific methodologies.
Through a closer examination of Bloom’s original levels, we can gain a better understanding of how this framework operates.