"Taxonomy” simply means “classification”, so the well-known taxonomy of learning objectives is an attempt (within the behavioural paradigm) to classify forms and levels of learning. It identifies three “domains” of learning (see below), each of which is organised as a series of levels or pre-requisites. It is suggested that one cannot effectively — or ought not try to — address higher levels until those below them have been covered (it is thus effectively serial in structure). As well as providing a basic sequential model for dealing with topics in the curriculum, it also suggests a way of categorising levels of learning, in terms of the expected ceiling for a given programme. Thus in the Cognitive domain, training for technicians may cover knowledge, comprehension and application, but not concern itself with analysis and above, whereas full professional training may be expected to include this and synthesis and evaluation as well.
Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning Domains
The Three Types of Learning
There is more than one type of learning. A committee of colleges, led by Benjamin Bloom (1956), identified three domains of educational activities: •
Cognitive: mental skills (Knowledge)
Affective: growth in feelings or emotional areas (Attitude) •
Psychomotor: manual or physical skills (Skills)
Since the work was produced by higher education, the words tend to be a little bigger than we normally use. Domains can be thought of as categories. Trainers often refer to these three categories as KSA (Knowledge, Skills, and Attitude). This taxonomy of learning behaviors can be thought of as “the goals of the learning process.” That is, after a learning episode, the learner should have acquired new skills, knowledge, and/or attitudes. The committee also produced an elaborate compilation for the cognitive and affective domains, but none for the psychomotor domain. Their explanation for this oversight was that they have little experience in teaching manual skills within the college level (I guess they never thought to check with their sports or drama departments). This compilation divides the three domains into subdivisions, starting from the simplest behavior to the most complex. The divisions outlined are not absolutes and there are other systems or hierarchies that have been devised in the educational and training world. However, Bloom's taxonomy is easily understood and is probably the most widely applied one in use today. Cognitive Domain
The cognitive domain (Bloom, 1956) involves knowledge and the development of intellectual skills. This includes the recall or recognition of specific facts, procedural patterns, and concepts that serve in the development of intellectual abilities and skills. There are six major categories, which are listed in order below, starting from the simplest behavior to the most complex. The categories can be thought of as degrees of difficulties. That is, the first ones must normally be mastered before the next ones can take place.
Example and Key Words (verbs)
Knowledge: Recall data or information.
Examples: Recite a policy. Quote prices from memory to a customer. Knows the safety rules. Key Words: defines, describes, identifies, knows, labels, lists, matches, names, outlines, recalls, recognizes, reproduces, selects, states. Comprehension: Understand the meaning, translation, interpolation, and interpretation of instructions and problems. State a problem in one's own words.
Examples: Rewrites the principles of test writing. Explain in one's own words the steps for performing a complex task. Translates an equation into a computer spreadsheet. Key Words: comprehends, converts, defends, distinguishes, estimates, explains, extends, generalizes, gives an example, infers, interprets, paraphrases, predicts, rewrites, summarizes, translates. Application: Use a concept in a new situation or unprompted use of an abstraction. Applies what was learned in the classroom...
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