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Understanding Bloom’s Taxonomy

How are educators using it to increase rigor and results?

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Most educators have heard of Bloom’s Taxonomy, which is an ordering of cognitive skills used in learning. But many don’t realize two of Benjamin Bloom’s students revised it in 2001. The result in some cases is what educators are calling an “outcomes-based syllabus.”

Despite the fact that Bloom’s original research and publishing occurred in the 1950s, it is still relevant in today’s digital world. In India, some are using it to support raising the digital quotient of students.

There are pitfalls if educators try to implement digital tools to teach following the hierarchy of Bloom’s. Jon Bergmann says the solution is what he calls the flipped classroom, which inverts Bloom’s pyramid with technology.

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Educators familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy know that the cognitive pyramid from top to bottom is as follows: create, evaluate, analyze, apply, understand and remember. In layman’s terms, the top of the pyramid represents critical thinking and working your way down you eventually end up at the most basic cognitive function of simply remembering a fact.

model of the brainStriking the right balance between higher and lower level thinking in the classroom is a key to successful teaching. Some argue that it comes down to rigor in the classroom.

As Todd Stanley points out, rigor is not synonymous with hard or difficult. Many educators think that making things harder makes their class and teaching more rigorous, but, he says, this simply isn’t the case.

Stanley says, “In order to be rigorous, students need to be in the top half of Bloom’s chart. They need to either be analyzing, evaluating or creating in order to access their high levels of thinking. The question becomes, how much of this is being done in the classroom?”

So, Bloom’s research is still relevant. Educators who want to improve their teaching and student outcomes are always tweaking things, even if it is tweaking things using research from the 1950s.

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