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Bloom’s Taxonomy – What is it and How it can be applied effectively to develop Critical Thinking Skills

Bloom’s Taxonomy

Education is very important in terms of assessing and identifying the intellectual level at which individual students are capable of working. Education aims to unearth our critical thinking skills so that we can better understand our environment and take decisions that will make it a better place to live. It is therefore imperative for students to be asked questions as well as create instructions that are aimed at improving the critical thinking skills of students in order to enable them reach the top three levels of analysis, synthesis and evaluation as applicable from the Bloom’s taxonomy.

According to Watanabe-Crockett (2018) critical thinking skills is always a challenge to teach and deliver effectively to learners and the best approach is to adopt the Bloom’s taxonomy as the basis of learning.

Bloom’s taxonomy is a hierarchical system that categorizes the thinking skills of students, ranging from recalling information which is the most basic skill to evaluation, which involves judging and stating an opinion about information. Bloom’s taxonomy is an effective tool that teachers and educators can use to create lesson plans and tests in the bid to encourage critical thinking. This article on Bloom’s taxonomy aims to evaluate the concept of Bloom’s taxonomy as well as identify its benefits and the effective techniques that can be employed to effectively use the tool. 

Concept of Bloom’s Taxonomy

The Bloom taxonomy is named after an educational psychologist, Benjamin Bloom, who undertook a project that aimed to classify the levels of behavior in learning in 1956. Bloom and his team researched several factors and their impact on learning. These factors included cognitive or intellectual, behavior as well as the classification of emotional and physical skills at various levels (Rudnicki, 2018). A further evaluation of the findings of Bloom and his team identified and classified six levels of cognitive performance. These levels included the following: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. A better comprehension of these levels can be identified in relation to posing simplified questions. Such a simple question can be, ‘What does 4 times 3 equal?

A critical assessment of the various levels identifies that at the knowledge level, the student needs to know that ‘times’ implies multiplying which further implies that multiple numbers must be added. The comprehension level allows the student to interpret the word sentence into a mathematical sentence which implies that ‘4 X 3 =?’ There is also the need to explain how the answer was got. Furthermore, the student must be able to apply this acquired knowledge to a word problem such as, ‘Three orange trees can each produce 4 fruits. How many fruits can be provided altogether’? The analysis level identifies students drawing pictures of the orange trees with an arrow from each tree to its group of 4 fruits. Synthesis is identified as the student’s ability to reorganize the information into a picture that shows that the three orange trees equaling 12 fruits in total. A final stretch of the student’s level of evaluation requires the need to evaluate the extent of fairness if the 12 fruits are divided among the three trees with one tree getting 2 fruits whereas the other two trees get 5 fruits each. An assessment of the findings of Bloom and his team indicated that more than 95% of test questions encountered by students requires them to think only at the lowest level. As such, the taxonomy was designed to encourage teachers to design instructions that ask students to think in rather increasingly complex ways.


Benefits of Bloom’s Taxonomy To Students

Bloom’s taxonomy is aimed at helping educators identify the intellectual level at which individual students are capable of working (Rudnicki, 2018). It also helps the students to probe further to ask more detailed questions as well as create instructions that are aimed at improving critical thinking as they strive to reach the top three levels of analysis, synthesis and evaluation as students get ready to reach such levels.

According to Alford, Herbert and Fragenheim (2006), teachers ask 300 – 400 questions a day. As such, it is imperative for teachers to have in their tool boxes the arsenal to engage students; encourage discussion; stimulate higher cognitive thinking as well as evaluate the learning progress of the students. This makes the Bloom’s taxonomy a very powerful tool that can be easily applied in the teaching profession. Higher cognitive thinking tends to further invite the understanding of other related contents such as problem solving, making of judgment’s, evaluation as well as reflection.

Through Bloom’s taxonomy, challenging questions can be posed to students to ascertain their knowledge as the facts given form the basis of their justification of an answer as well as promotes student’s ownership and sense of power over their education as students can be motivated in a direction that encourages the decision to make judgments as well as commit to an idea, thereby allowing them to reflect on a particular issue where the teacher provides the implications related to the ideas. Basically, Bloom’s taxonomy helps encourage and teach students to make their own decisions just in a classroom setting but also helps promote a life skill.

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