What is Bloom’s Taxonomy and Why Should it Be Used in Workplace Training?

I first learned about Bloom’s Taxonomy in my education classes during college which were geared toward K-12 teaching pedagogy.  We were taught that we should incorporate all levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, students should master one before moving on to the next, and that the next level up is always more difficult than the last.  HOTS (Higher Order Thinking Skills) were all the rage and Bloom’s Taxonomy was one way to achieve this.  While I’m sure Bloom’s Taxonomy was created primarily for academic learning, I believe it is relevant for all types of learning, including workplace training.  Why?

Bloom’s Taxonomy Helps Achieve Training Goals and Objectives

The goal of workplace training is for learners to not only remember and recall facts and procedures (which is the absolute lowest level of training) but to also be able to apply their learning to authentic workplace situations to improve on-the-job performance.  In order for training programs to be effective, it is vital that learners bridge the gap between their knowledge and its application.  One way to achieve this is to incorporate Bloom’s Taxonomy into the curriculum.  It may not be necessary to include all levels into all training programs but rather the aspects that are appropriate to the learning goals and objectives.  In addition, Bloom’s Taxonomy can serve as a helpful checklist for planning, designing, assessing, and evaluating your training program and its effectiveness.  The Bloom’s Taxonomy model is divided into three parts or domains:

  1. Cognitive – Intellect – Knowledge
  2. Psychomotor – Motor skills and coordination – Skills
  3. Affective –  Feelings and emotions – Attitude

Trainers often refer to these three categories simply as Knowledge, Skills, and Attitude. 

Six Levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy

In this blog post, I am going to focus on the Cognitive Domain which includes the following six categories starting from the simplest behavior to the most complex. Each category can be thought of as a degree of difficulty and builds a foundation for the next level.  As a result, the first one should be mastered before the next one can take place.  Take a look at the chart of Bloom’s Taxonomy.  It includes each category in the cognitive domain.  I like to think of it as a mountain of intellect with the bottom level (Remember) creating the foundation for all learning that will take place.  Create is the last and ultimate level and once a learner has reached the Create level that have reached the pinnacle of learning that set of material. 

Level 1 – Remember

The learner memorizes and recalls ideas, facts, theories, and other specific bits of information.  No change of behavior is expected at this point.  Notice how this is the bottom, and the longest layer.  This is the foundation of learning since the learner must remember the information before progressing to the next level.

Examples:

List three procedures learned at workplace safety training.

Define the concepts of the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains as they relate to performance-based training.

What is bubble gum?

Level 2 – Understand

The learner demonstrates understanding of the material or information by describing, discussing, explaining, identifying, summarizing, and translating.  This second layer often goes with the first (Remember) and again typically no real change in behavior occurs at this level.  However, the learning outcomes go one step beyond memorization. 

Examples:

Explain the specific safety model learned in safety training in your own words.

Summarize the major findings from the case-study that pertain to the role of the cognitive domain.

How do you use bubble gum?

Level 3 – Apply

The learner correctly applies newly learned rules, concepts, principles, and theories to new and concrete situations.  This may include the application of rules, concepts, principles, laws, theories, and methods.  Learning outcomes require a higher level of understanding than in Understanding and this is the level where a change in behavior often begins.

Examples:

Correctly apply the safety training in various role-play situations.

Outline the major elements of a successful training program that takes into account the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains of the participants.

With this sample of bubble gum, demonstrate how to blow a bubble.

Level 4 – Analyze

The learner is able to break down information into smaller parts, including the identification of parts, analysis of relationships between parts, and recognition of the organizational principles involved so that its organizational structure may be understood.  Learning outcomes represent a higher intellectual level than comprehension and application because they require an understanding of both the content and the structural form of the material.  At this level, the learner will analyze, compare/contrast, experiment, examine, differentiate, and distinguish one element from another.

Examples:

Analyze what there are safety risks at work and examine different ways in which they can be avoided.

Compare and contrast the “do’s” and “don’ts” of effective training programs.

Distinguish the advantages and disadvantages of chewing bubble gum.

Level 5 – Evaluate

The learner makes conscious value judgments of material for a given purpose and are based on definite criteria that is either given to the student or is determined by the student.  Learning outcomes at this level are very high because the learner must be able to assess, defend, judge, support, evaluate, argue, and value information and concepts. 

Examples:

Evaluate a variety of options for handling various safety scenarios.  Justify why a particular model/procedure would be best used in the situation.

Name and rank in order five evaluation tools to measure the effectiveness of the training program from the most beneficial to the least and provide reasons for each choice.

Prioritize the top three qualities of your idea bubble gum and justify why they are important.

Level 6 – Create

The learner puts ideas together into a new or unique product or plan which involves advanced, creative, out-of-the-box thinking with an emphasis on the formulation of new patterns and structure.  At this final level, the learner will arrange, compose, construct, create, design, develop, propose, organize, and manage a new product. 

Examples:

Create an evaluation checklist that a trainer could use during a training session to identify and document strengths and weaknesses of student performance.

Create an original lesson plan containing elements from the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains based on the learners’ abilities and needs in your workplace setting.

Create and describe the ideal/perfect bubble gum.

These are just a few examples and an overview of how to apply Bloom’s Taxonomy in workplace training.  I hope you found it useful!  Stay tuned for upcoming blog posts that will include more detail for each level.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: