Bloom’s taxonomy might have been created over fifty years ago, but it still plays an important and active part in today’s classroom. So, how does it work, what are the six levels of complexity and why does it focus on so many verbs?

For starters, Bloom’s taxonomy aims to address how students can bridge the learning gap between what they know already, and where they need to be.

This is achieved through learning outcomes. Which means that the very first thing that instructors need to think about is what students have to know by the end of the course.

But each learning outcome needs an action to get to it, examples of which you can see below. This ensures that students have a clear and concise understanding of what they need to accomplish by the end of the lecture.

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A chart of some Bloom’s taxonomy verbs, and the six levels

Remember Understand Apply Analyze Evaluate Create
Cite Clarify Construct Classify Assess Categorize
Define Compare Demonstrate Compare Conclude Construct
Describe Describe Determine Explain Determine Develop
Identify Discuss Discover Identify Interpret Formulate
Outline Explain Express Investigate Predict Incorporate
Recall Predict Investigate Outline Support Reconstruct
Recognize Summarize Predict Relate Validate Summarize

Bloom’s taxonomy is hierarchical, and requires you to achieve each level in succession (Remember, Understand, Apply, Analyze, Evaluate and Create). In order to understand a concept, you must remember it; to apply a concept you must first understand it. In order to evaluate a process, you must have analyzed it; and to make an accurate conclusion, you must have completed an evaluation.

Here’s how to apply the levels. When you have decided your learning outcomes, you can break them down further into lecture learning outcomes. These are statements of what learners will be able to perform in a segment of learning, and they need to have the three pillars:

  • Condition (often the resources being used)
  • Performance (what they hope students will be able to accomplish by the end)
  • Criteria (how will they know the student has succeeded)

However, while condition and criteria are pretty straightforward, the biggest pitfall for educators is making the performance actionable and effective. In order to be actionable the professor needs to have a specific verb that sets clear expectations for what the student must achieve to be successful.

Here is where all the verbs come in. Each of the Bloom’s taxonomy verbs — summarize, predict, identify, and so on — can be specifically measured. This helps educators avoid using unquantifiable verbs in their learning outcomes. Words that we traditionally use as educators, such as “include”, “understand”, or even just “learn”, actually can’t be measured meaningfully. This is what makes Bloom’s Taxonomy so powerful—and tricky to get right.

Since this can take a few times to get right in practice, Top Hat has created a free online resource to walk professors through the exact process. The tool builds into a larger suite that works through the instructional design of a course, helping professors to set their students up for success in every lecture. You can get it by filling in the form below.

Try our free teaching resources kit, built by Top Hat’s instructional designers using the principles of Bloom’s taxonomy, to help plan activities, lectures, assessments and more.

Download your free Top Hat Toolkit Here: