Bloom’s Taxonomy is a framework that classifies educational objectives and learning outcomes into a hierarchy of cognitive skills. Developed by Benjamin Bloom in 1956, the taxonomy has been revised over the years and is widely used by educators to design curriculum, assessments, and learning experiences. In 2001 the scale was updated to: remember, understand, apply, analyse, evaluate, and create.
However, most certification courses appear to be based on the old 1956 scale knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation. So, the question is whether the Bloom’s taxonomy and resulting educational qualifications are suitable. Here are some of the pros and cons:
Hierarchical Structure: The taxonomy provides a clear hierarchical structure that helps educators and learners understand the progression of cognitive and thinking skills.
Guidance for Curriculum Design: It serves as a useful tool for designing curriculum and learning activities that target a range of cognitive skills. Educators can design activities to move students through the different levels of the taxonomy, promoting deeper understanding and critical thinking.
Alignment with Assessments: Bloom’s Taxonomy aids in creating assessments that align with the intended learning outcomes. This ensures that assessments measure the level of cognitive skill development that is desired.
Encourages Higher-Order Thinking: By categorising cognitive skills into different levels, the taxonomy emphasises the importance of developing higher-order thinking skills such as analysis, evaluation, and creativity.
Flexibility: The taxonomy is flexible and can be adapted to various subjects and educational contexts. Educators can customize it to suit their specific needs and objectives.
Validity of the scale: While the division of cognitive skills may simplify the scale it may not match the real-world complexity of the tasks to be performed. Real-world thinking often involves a blend of multiple skills.
Interpretation of the “Badge”: In order to apply for job opportunities there has been a lot of focus on qualifications. While there may be a growing shift towards proof or experience and personal attributes, qualifications may still play a big part. As an employer be careful to validate the real significance of the qualification before assuming the person is “qualified”. The wording of the badge may or may not equal the level expected, especially as the majority of certification classes are at Bloom’s level 1 with only a memory-based exam. It is also not normal for the “badge” to be publicly aligned with the Bloom’s scale even though the original course was aligned.
Proof of skills development: While the hierarchy makes intuitive sense, there is limited evidence supporting the progression of cognitive development and furthermore whether it leads to real on-the-job improved outcomes.
Alignment with learning objectives: The taxonomy is widely implemented as a hierarchy of verbs, designed to be used when writing learning outcomes, but often these verb lists may not be properly aligned with the claimed learning level.
Low awareness among learners: Like most specialised topics, most people outside of the learning and development profession will likely have never heard of the Bloom’s taxonomy or understand its context. Course providers may or may not explain it well in their brochures. Even if they do, the terminology can sometimes be vague or open to interpretation. For example, the distinction between “analysis” and “evaluation” can be blurry in practice.
Inadequate Emphasis on Context: The taxonomy doesn’t explicitly account for the contextual factors that can influence the application of cognitive skills. Real-world problem-solving often involves adapting skills to specific situations. Courses at the lower levels may not include how to adapt the learning for different real-world contexts.
Underemphasis on Creativity: While the revised versions of the taxonomy have included creativity as a higher-order skill, the current scale and this aspect is not commonly included in certification course curricula.
Doesn’t Address Affective and Psychomotor Domains: While Bloom’s Taxonomy primarily focuses on cognitive skills, it doesn’t comprehensively address the affective (emotional) and psychomotor (physical skills) domains of learning, which are also important aspects of education.