10 March, 2009

Dr. Benjamin Bloom and His Idea behind Taxonomy

By C. Radhakrishnan

Many teachers approach learning from different angles. But having a good knowledge of how Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning describes and expands on the learning domain approach is important for today's teacher.

First created in 1956, by Dr. Benjamin Bloom, the concept was created for academic learning in the beginning, but it is easily adapted for all different kinds of learning. His first raid into the subject was called "Taxonomy of Education and Objectives" and was started by Dr. Bloom in 1948.

The basic model for Dr. Bloom's system is made up of three distinct parts. He refers to them in domains, and sometimes these three parts overlap. Dr. Bloom is an academician, and he uses language that is found in the academic world, but it is not too difficult to understand for the average person.

Dr. Bloom's system is made up of three parts or domains:

Cognitive- This is the part or domain that involves the mind and the intellect. It deals with thinking, knowledge and the ability of a person in intellectual pursuits.

Affective- This is the part that deals with a person and how they act and feel. Emotions and feelings, and different behaviours such as a person's individual attitude are characteristic of this domain.

Psychomotor - This deals with the physical realm, manual skills, actions and physical skills.

Dr. Bloom’s Taxonomy is based on the principle that each of these three domains are arranged in order of the difficulty in which they exist. According to Dr. Bloom each different domain has to be conquered, or "mastered" before a person can move on to the next one.

Each of the domains involved has categories and levels within it. Each domain has the following categories and as you go higher and higher in the ladder the difficulty level increases.




Each domain is set up in this sort of structure. It is in a matrix format, which allows a person to set up a template, or a checklist.

In most cases, as a learner continues along the path of learning, he/she should realise a positive effect or benefit from each of these elements, usually in order:

Domain: Cognitive- Intellect and development of ones Knowledge
Domain: Affective- The beliefs and various attitudes in learning for a person
Domain: Psychomotor- Putting bodily and physical skill into action.

Teachers can use Bloom's Taxonomy to help design and set up different elements of what they are trying to teach. This method lends itself to a lot of different type of teaching structures.

When he created his Taxonomy, Dr. Bloom was aiming at creating a further understanding of education of an academic nature, but it is also transferable to other types and categories of learning. In the beginning, Dr. Bloom thought that Education in itself should have a primary focus on "Mastery" of different topics and concepts. He also felt education should be self-promoting, and lead to a gradual increase to higher kinds of learning and thinking.

He did not want learning to be merely by rote approach, to simply have facts transferred back and forth in a utilitarian manner.

Dr. Bloom illustrated in his research years ago that a lot of teaching as we know, tends to be trained on recalling information, and transferring facts. He accurately pointed out that such learning is located at the lowest rung of the training level.

In his research Dr. Bloom points out that true learning is coupled with personal development in a meaningful manner. This is a huge challenge for teachers, and remains a central issue to overcome in approaching teaching.

Don't be frightened by the Fancy Terms:
Dr. Bloom and his research, his design of Domains appears to the outsider as something terribly complex. A lot of this can be traced to language.

At the simplest level, his terms can be boiled down to the following.

Taxonomy just means "a group of principles for classification or definition" Taxonomy can also be construed even more simply in one word: Structure. As for the term Domain it just means type or category.
The model that Dr. Bloom set up in his Taxonomy is a fairly logical one. It has elements that can be adapted to the classroom, in setting up lesson plans that are a scaffold for different levels and in learning how to apply various educational standards and objectives. It is also one method to help define and judge the outcome of learning in the classroom

In its Simplest Terms, Dr. Bloom's Taxonomy can be very simply summed up in a few sentences, ones that might be easier to help understand his model:
The Taxonomy model is a form of a defined checklist, and it helps design, assess, evaluate, and plan.

In the classroom, if you are aware and have a basic grasp of each of the three domains: Affective, Cognitive, and Psychomotor, and if you can see how each relates to elements of your teaching, then you will be able to use his model as tools to create effective learning. Dr. Bloom's work is helpful in not only in designing and constructing your lessons; it is also very effective in helping to figure out, if what you are teaching is getting through.

The Taxonomy model of Dr. Bloom is helpful as an assessment tool, and can be used to assess individual parts of a lesson plan, the progress of different students in a class or program, or to simply develop a successful lesson into a template to use again.

Online References:

1. http://www.skagitwatershed.org/~donclark/hrd/bloom.html
2. http://www.businessballs.com/bloomstaxonomyoflearningdomains.htm
3. http://www.humboldt.edu/~tha1/bloomtax.html
4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloom%27s_Taxonomy
5. http://academic.udayton.edu/health/syllabi/health/unit01/lesson01b.htm