Bloom’s taxonomy (named after Benjamin Bloom and later revised by Anderson and Krathwohl) is a classification of learning skills that is often used in education. When writing learning objectives or outcomes, it provides a means of expressing these in clear language.
In the 1950s educators were looking at the learning process in order to identify ways in which we learn. In 1956 Bloom and his colleagues suggested that there are three domains (areas) of learning:
- the cognitive - focuses on the intellect, knowledge and thinking
- the affective - focuses on feeling, emotions and attitudes
- the psycho-motor - focuses on the physical and motor skills (completed later by RH Dave).
Bloom's taxonomy (Bloom 1956) is a classification of lower to higher order thinking (or learning) skills centring upon the cognitive domain, which is the most commonly used domain in education.
Six levels of intellectual behaviour in learning are organised into a hierarchy of skills from the less to the more complex; these show the progression from lower to higher order thinking skills.
Figure 1: Bloom's taxonomy: the cognitive domain
Bloom's taxonomy is often depicted as a pyramid showing a progression from 'knowledge' to evaluation'.
Higher order thinking skills
Based on learning taxonomies is the belief that some types of learning require more cognitive processing than others. These are the higher order thinking skills (HOTS), also known as higher order learning skills.
The higher order thinking skills include critical, reflective and creative thinking. These skills are more generic in nature than lower order thinking skills (LOTS) and can be regarded as transferable. In other words, they can be activated when we encounter unfamiliar situations, problems or questions.
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