Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Blooms Taxonomy: Not a Verbs-Based Framework

Original Image: Bloom's Taxonomy Verbs.png, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Like many new instructional designers, 20 years ago, I was introduced to the Bloom's taxonomy and with it, a verbs list

As far as I know, the original taxonomy by Bloom and Co. focused on assessment, providing examples of test items for each of the six categories. These test items explained certain behaviours (or verbs) associated with different objectives. The revised taxonomy by Anderson and Krathwohl focused on clarifying that educational objectives indicate that the student should be able to do something (verb) to or with something (noun)-a verb-noun relationship. The revised taxonomy included a table that had the list of cognitive processes, the alternative names (verbs) and some definition and examples. Neither of these publications, as far as I know, included a "verbs list" that we see in both higher-ed and workplace learning contexts.  

I am very careful about using or sharing verb lists just because the same word may take on a different meaning depending on the context. I am sure we have all seen the same verb appear under different categories in different lists available online! I don't think Bloom's taxonomy was meant to be a verbs-based framework. Such an approach relies on firm and consistent use of language, which is rather challenging. 

When mentoring new instructional designers, I have let go of the verbs list and focus on sharing the taxonomy, categories, and the cognitive processes and sub-processes involved in learning. I also stress the importance of the relationship between performance outcomes, learning activities, and assessments. 

The way I look at learning, I want to assume that all learning objectives are performance objectives and need to be about things we need to do (apply; apply not always meaning hands-on) and any enabling objectives can be simply tagged under performance objectives using any verbs.

So, yes, we need to understand, identify, define, categorize, etc. but ultimately, we want to be able to do something and apply our learning. 


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