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Bloom's Taxonomy

What is Bloom’s Taxonomy?

In 1956, educational psychologist Dr. Benjamin Bloom created a system to classify learning objectives into a series of learning domains that encourage teachers to think holistically about education. His system came to be known as Bloom’s Taxonomy. Much has been written about it, and it has been widely applied, including here at Davenport.

This page is meant to provide a brief overview of Bloom’s Taxonomy; for deeper learning, please see the additional resources listed at the bottom of the page.

Learning Domains

Bloom identified three domains, or categories, of educational activities:

Cognitive Knowledge or mental skills   Learn More

Affective Attitude or emotions  Learn More

Psychomotor Skills or physical skills  Learn More

When these learning domain ideas are applied to learning environments, active verbs are used to describe the kind of knowledge and intellectual engagement we want our students to demonstrate.


Cognitive Knowledge

The Cognitive Domain develops six areas of intellectual skills that build sequentially from simple to complex behaviors. Bloom arranged them this way:

Knowledge (recall of information)

Comprehension (understanding of meaning)

Application (use of concept)

Analysis (deconstruction of concept)

Synthesis (combination of information to create meaning)

Evaluation (judgment of concept)

In time, this arrangement evolved into what we now call Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy. Category names were changed from nouns to verbs, but are still ordered from simple to complex:








Affective Attitude

The Affective Domain includes five areas of emotional response, categorized as simple to complex ways of processing feelings and attitude. Bloom arranged them this way:

Receiving (passively paying attention)

Responding (actively learning and reacting)

Valuing (attaching worth to information)

Organizing (arranging and elaborating on information)

Characterizing (valuing belief that influences behavior)


Psychomotor Skills

The Psychomotor Domain, which focuses on physical skills, was identified, but not defined, by Dr. Bloom. His original ideas were expanded by 1970s educators, including Dr. Elizabeth Simpson, who developed them in this simple-to-complex order:

Perception (sensory guiding of motor activity)

Set (feeling ready to act)

Guided Response (beginning to learn complex skills)

Mechanism (developing basic proficiency)

Complex Overt Response (performing with advanced skill)

Adaptation (modifying movement to meet special circumstances)

Origination (creating situation-specific movements)


To learn more:

Bloom, B. S. (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook I: The Cognitive Domain. New York: David McKay Co Inc.

Clark, D. (2013). Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning Domains. Big Dog & Little Dog’s Performance Juxtaposition. Retrieved from

Krathwohl, D. R., Bloom, B. S., & Masia, B. B. (1973). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, the Classification of Educational Goals. Handbook II: Affective Domain. New York: David McKay Co., Inc.

Simpson E. J. (1972). The Classification of Educational Objectives in the Psychomotor Domain. Washington, DC: Gryphon House.