A Random Rant on Bloom-ing Assessments

Bloom’s taxonomy is widely used in education circle to think about the classification of learning objectives. I thought liked it… that was until I start thinking about it, then it makes my head hurt and I’m wondering if I miss something.

So a quick overview for those that may not be too familiar with Bloom’s taxonomy… Essentially one moves from knowledge, to comprehension, to application, to analysis, to synthesis, to evaluation. And for those of you that’s too familiar with Bloom’s taxonomy, I realize there are criticisms, I realize their has been alternatives suggested etc., but let’s not complicated the issue.

My problem is not so much with the idea of his levels, but with the verbs that are often associated with the level.

So a question like “List the advantages of x” is generally considered to be just giving back knowledge…  fair enough, maybe…

What about a question “Compare y and z.” Ah, compare is analysis… or so I’m being brainwashed…

But, hey,  that does not make sense.  Think about it: if your lectures/class notes/whatever basically did the comparison, maybe it was a good way of “selling x to them”, what are you asking the student. I think you could as well have said “Recall the comparison between y and z, that you’ve memorized and write it down”  At which level are we now? Oops back at level 1: knowledge…

Having said this I realize the level of student may very well have an influence on the level: when a pre-schoolers works out how to divide the 10 pancakes between the five people its kind of right up at levels 5 or 6… Several things had to fall in place… Somehow if I do it, it is at best “application” and even that is for me a hard sell, and certainly would not make for a compelling exam question…

So you are welcome to criticize my thoughts! That would be level 6, evaluate, by the way, because I want you to actually think…

So what do you think? Am I missing the point? Please leave your thoughts and perspectives in the comments, I need your help!


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