Benjamin Bloom and his colleagues developed a taxonomy of learning objectives, where they structurally classified a system for defining and distinguishing different levels of human cognition. When organizing a learning event, one can use the taxonomy to measure what the participants are likely to know and what they need to learn. But the question is, can we use this in workplace training and development programs?

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Today’s learning and development programs are not determining the learning objectives, or if such objectives are defined, then too many times, they are not appropriately expressed. It is not enough to memorize new information to perform a job. Employers expect that the employees will also understand and apply them to workplace situations. Practical training and development programs provide trainees with the knowledge and skills required to achieve high-performance levels. But how can one change knowledge into skills?

It is crucial to understand what people learn to address how people learn. The learners and the instructors must understand the learning objectives or outcomes when they engage in learning. Benjamin Bloom’s theory aimed to create a taxonomy to help improve critical thinking in the learning system. Benjamin Bloom’s taxonomy enables instructors to understand how people acquire new knowledge and enriches learning in the process.

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What is Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy?

In 1956, educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom developed a model for learning objectives to gain knowledge from the learning process fully. In his book, The Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals (1956), Benjamin Bloom set out a series of learning objectives known as Bloom’s taxonomy. Bloom’s taxonomy is a structural classification system for defining and distinguishing different levels of human cognition, such as knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. The taxonomy focuses on how people can learn effectively using a structural base. The principle here is that knowledge can change attitude; this new and acquired knowledge can then shape intention, and intentions created during learning drive behavior at work.

Any learning module can incorporate Bloom’s taxonomy to enrich the outcome. Workplace training uses this taxonomy to train the employees effectively. Well-written learning objectives help learners anticipate what to expect from the training. It provides the learners with a structural approach to learning. Instructional designers can also use Bloom’s taxonomy globally to define the required cognition level in eLearning to map the content type to the imagination or multimedia enablement of an eLearning course. ADDIE and Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model rely heavily on the structural learning approach.

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Three Domains of Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy

Benjamin Bloom’s taxonomy broke learning objectives down into domains. It has three main learning domains: Cognitive, affective, and psychomotor.

  1. Cognitive: The cognitive domain involves acquiring knowledge and comprehending facts and concepts. It is the lowest level that requires retention. As the cognitive domain increases, learners must understand, apply and extrapolate to other situations. It is the essential domain that instructors use to craft objectives and learning targets, construct questions, and design assessments.
  2. Affective: The affective domain involves how individuals relate emotionally to knowledge – specifically, how they gain feelings, values, and attitudes about the given topic. When learners can affectively and emotionally engage with the material they are learning, the likelihood that they will learn and utilize the information increases.
  3. Psychomotor: The psychomotor domain depicts the ability to utilize an object, such as a tool, physically. Like the cognitive domain, the psychomotor domain moves the learner from basic sensory cues for using a new device to adapting and extrapolating a tool in a new context.

The Six Cognitive Levels of Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy

Benjamin Bloom’s taxonomy further broke the cognitive domain into six levels: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. The six cognitive levels of this taxonomy are as follows:

  1. Knowledge: It is the process of getting information and can be used to create lists or definitions. Although it is the lowest taxonomic level, it is crucial for learning. This stage requires no understanding of the knowledge, only to have it accurately and thoroughly in mind.
  2. Comprehension: Understanding, or the process of creating meaning and connecting pieces of knowledge, is the next level in the taxonomic organization.
  3. Application: The third level in Bloom’s taxonomy marks a fundamental shift from the pre-Bloom’s learning era because it involves remembering what has been learned, understanding the knowledge, and then applying it to real-world exercises and challenges or situations.
  4. Analysis: The cognitive level of analysis allows learners to dig deeper into the knowledge they have retained, comprehended, and applied to form associations, judgments, or comparisons. Analyzing would mean a learner can take complex information and simplify it or summarize it.
  5. Synthesis: The fifth taxonomic level is concerned with taking various elements and creating a new, coherent product. This level draws on all previous stories and then constructs the end product, which may be either physical or conceptual.
  6. Evaluation: The final level of the taxonomy is evaluation. Here, it requires the learner to make criteria-based judgments through the processes of critiquing and checking. It focuses on suggesting ways to introduce new technology into the learning environment.

Revised Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy

The new version of Bloom’s taxonomy was released in 2001 by psychologists and educational specialists, including Lorin Anderson, David Krathwohl, and others. They have updated and restructured the levels of knowledge while keeping Bloom’s emphasis on the cognitive domain and redefining the various categories of knowledge. For Bloom, knowledge was essentially pre-existing information. In the revised Bloom’s taxonomy, there are four types of knowledge.

  1. Factual knowledge is the information that provides the structure for learning.
  2. Conceptual knowledge includes categories and theories.
  3. Procedural knowledge is about how to use specific techniques and methods.
  4. Metacognitive knowledge is strategy decisions, self-knowledge, and thinking about thinking.

They have also revised the cognitive domain. According to this revised version of the taxonomy, there are six cognitive learning that we are going to discuss now.

  1. Remember: The first level focuses on the recall or retrieval of information. In this stage, employees remember the steps of the training session.
  2. Understand: The second part is understanding, focusing on comprehension rather than recall. Here, learners engage in generalizing the information. They grasp why each step is essential and how they build on each other.
  3. Apply: The learners use prior knowledge in a new situation. It involves practicing skills in a new context or using a rhetoric technique. Here, the employees utilize the lessons of the training session.
  4. Analyze: Learners examine and break down information into essential parts and determine how different parts relate to each other and as a whole. Afterward, they discuss the impact and benefits they experienced from each step and rank the steps from most impactful to least.
  5. Evaluate: Learners defend opinions, make judgments based on criteria, and assess information. The employees may also suggest changes to the training program and put forward related training topics that would be relevant to their workplace.
  6. Create: The sixth and final level is to create. Here, learners put elements together or restructure to form something new/clear functional whole based on prior knowledge.

How to Apply Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy to Corporate Training Evaluation?

Benjamin Bloom’s taxonomy evaluates the effectiveness of the training program. When organizing a learning event, one can use the taxonomy to gauge what the participants are likely to know and highlight what the organization wants them to learn. If it is a new type of knowledge, it will suggest conducting the training gently and with high levels of support. On the other hand, if it is old information that people already know, it will move faster and include more complexity. Also, it can evaluate the level learners are at – and where the organization wants them to be. For example, are they ready to utilize the information yet? Or will they need to achieve more?

Additionally, Bloom’s model can teach you how to assist others. Perhaps one of the staff members is having trouble acquiring sufficient conceptual understanding. By analyzing Bloom’s model, one could spot the gap and assist them in acquiring the essential knowledge they lack. A different team member may excel at analyzing data sets in a certain way. Someone else could help them in moving forward with this so they may begin to develop new possibilities. Thus, Benjamin Bloom’s taxonomy is influencing workplace training to a different extent.

Criticisms of Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy

  1. It treats learning as sequential. But learning is not always linear. For example, a learning module can start with an evaluation-based question to increase the learners’ interest before applying.
  2. The second criticism it receives is its hierarchal structure, which implies that specific levels are connected. But learning is a sliding continuum where one can move back and forth as one learns.
  3. Moreover, Benjamin Bloom’s taxonomy relies on a clear distinction of categories. But the human brain is complex, distinctive, and connective. It makes Bloom’s model look arbitrary. Bloom’s taxonomy is a product of its time and therefore outdated. A more accurate model that depends on mental advancement could be a better alternative.


Benjamin Bloom

Benjamin Bloom


And yet, for all these criticisms, Benjamin Bloom’s taxonomy remains prevalent in the workplace training system. It is less of a learning theory and more of a framework. Learning objects are an essential element of any course. It generates a structural base. Albeit flawed, that reminds us to incorporate critical thinking in learning modules and take learning to a higher level.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is Bloom’s taxonomy in simple words?

Benjamin Bloom’s taxonomy is a structural classification system for defining and distinguishing different levels of human cognition, such as knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

What are the 6 levels of Bloom’s taxonomy?

There are six levels of cognitive learning in Bloom’s taxonomy: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

What are the 3 domains of Bloom’s taxonomy?

Benjamin Bloom’s taxonomy broke learning objectives down into domains. It has three main learning domains: Cognitive, affective, and psychomotor.

What are the 6 cognitive domains?

The six cognitive domains are knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

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