Assessment Objectives. Part 2: Anderson & Krathwohl’s (2001) update to Bloom’s taxonomy

Bloom’s taxonomy has been a cornerstone of instructional planning for 50 years. But there have been difficult questions in how to apply it.

The Bloom commission presented 6 levels of (cognitive) knowledge:

  • Knowledge (for example, can state or identify facts or ideas)
  • Comprehension (for example, can summarize ideas, restate them in other words, compare them to other ideas)
  • Application (for example, can use the knowledge to solve problems)
  • Analysis (for example, can identify patterns, identify components and explain how they connect to each other)
  • Synthesis (for example, can relate different things to each other, combine ideas to produce an explanation)
  • Evaluation (for example, can weigh costs and benefits of two different proposals)

For example, I “know” a fact (“the world is flat”) and I can prove that I know it by saying it (“The world is flat”). But I also know a procedure (“Do these 48 steps in this order to replicate this bug”) and I can prove that I know it by, er, ah — maybe it’s easier for me to prove I know it by DOING it than by saying it. (Have you ever tried to DO “the world is flat?”) Is it the same kind of thing to apply your knowledge of a fact as your knowledge of a procedure? What about knowing a model? If knowing a fact lets me say something and knowing a procedure helps me do something, maybe knowing a model helps me predict something. Say = do = predict = know?

Similarly, think about synthesizing or evaluating these different things? Is the type and level of knowledge really the same — would we test people’s knowledge in the same way — for these different kinds of things?

Extensive discussion led to upgrades, such as Anderson & Krathwohl’s and Marzano’s.

Rather than ordering knowledge on one dimension, from easiest-to-learn to hardest, the new approaches look at different types of information (facts, procedures, etc.) as well as different levels of knowledge (remember, apply, etc.).

I find the Anderson / Krathwohl approach (simple summaries here and here and here) more intuitive and more easy to apply, (YMMV, but that’s how it works for me…) Their model looks like this:

The Knowledge Dimension The Cognitive Process Dimension
Remember Understand Apply Analyze Evaluate Create
Factual knowledge
Conceptual knowledge
Procedural knowledge
Metacognitive knowledge

Metacognitive knowledge is knowing how to learn something. For example, much of what we know about troubleshooting and debugging and active reading is metacognitive knowledge.

  • Extending Anderson/Krathwohl for evaluation of testing knowledge
  • Assessment activities for certification in light of the Anderson/Krathwohl taxonomy

Next assessment sequence: Multiple Choice Questions: Design & Content.

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