At Maestro, we have spent many years with our team and with clients discovering what makes a powerful learning experience, and from that, we’ve built an arsenal of learning philosophies and principles that guide the work we do in learning and development.

One of the models that informs our learning principles is Bloom’s Taxonomy. What is Bloom’s Taxonomy? How does it work, and how can your company use it to boost learning outcomes?

What is Bloom’s Taxonomy?

Bloom’s Taxonomy is a hierarchy for teaching and learning that helps to frame desired objectives or outcomes for a learning experience. Each level of Bloom’s Taxonomy builds on the one before it—providing a ladder of potential learning objectives to draw from when tackling your next learning project.

illustration of Bloom's Taxonomy with a seedling growing through each stage of the diagram [1 remember, 2 understand, 3 apply, 4 analyze, 5 create, 6 evaluate]

There are several iterations of Bloom’s Taxonomy that have been around since its creation, but we’re going to use the following levels: Remember, Understand, Apply, Analyze, Create, and Evaluate.

Bloom’s Taxonomy and teaching

Bloom’s Taxonomy provides a blueprint and structure for teachers, helping them ultimately answer the question, “What do you want your learners to do?”

Bloom’s Taxonomy is a framework that goes hand-in-hand with course development for our clients. It pushes clients to think past the basic levels of learning such as remembering and understanding, which you see a lot in courses with knowledge checks and quizzes, and towards higher levels of learning found in analysis, creation, and evaluation.

What do we mean when we talk about basic and higher levels of learning? At one point, we all had science class and had to memorize “the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell”. That example right there depicts the Remember stage in Bloom’s Taxonomy, the most basic form of learning. When learners take this concept and work it through the higher levels of Bloom’s, however, it’s not enough to recite this scientific reality. There’s then a need to understand it in context.

While a learner might remember the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell, do they really understand what that means? To take it even further, could they recreate an accurate model of a cell and evaluate just why this component is so vital to life as we know it? That’s Bloom’s Taxonomy in action.

Basically, Bloom’s Taxonomy and teaching are a perfect pair. The framework helps push learning outcomes towards their fullest potential, so that students, employees, and learners aren’t just thinking about concepts by memorizing definitions or passing knowledge checks, but actually thinking about their application in the real world through scenario learning, real-world application, and other hands-on learning experiences.

Bloom’s Taxonomy in education

Beyond the traditional classroom setting, Bloom’s Taxonomy can play a fairly broad role in education as a whole. It can be used in any situation, in both formal and informal learning. While it’s most often used in a formal learning setting for lesson planning and structuring courses, it can also be used when you’re offering short informal trainings to make sure learners aren’t just staying at lower levels such as Remember and Understand, but also moving towards higher stages of learning such as Analysis, Creation, and Evaluation. Whether you’re planning an online course, a training luncheon, or a conference, Bloom’s Taxonomy is an invaluable tool to ensure a positive, valuable learning experience.

Bloom’s Taxonomy in education is a powerful tool for any facilitator to keep in their back pocket. Keeping Bloom’s Taxonomy in mind when structuring information, especially as it pertains to those higher levels of learning, can remind educators that organizing their learning based on what goals they want their learners to achieve matters.

What is Bloom’s Taxonomy used for?

What is Bloom’s Taxonomy used for? Besides being the genius invention of Benjamin Bloom, Bloom’s Taxonomy has proven to be valuable across industries. Beyond course and lesson plan development, Bloom’s Taxonomy has also been used in technology to frame digital tasks, evaluate apps, and write questions for assessments.

Let’s learn more about the levels of Bloom’s and how each level impacts learners.

Bloom’s Taxonomy explained

Remember

Remember is the most basic level of learning in Bloom’s Taxonomy, and it’s likely familiar to you. Think about memorization, flashcards, and similar question and answer features found in courses. The purpose of the Remember stage is for learners to grasp basic definitions of concepts so that they can next understand them.

Understand

Once a learner has mastered Remember, they move towards Understand. This looks like not only comprehending a definition of a concept, but being able to understand what that concept looks like in its real-world context.

Apply

Once understanding has been reached, it’s time to apply. This is the stage in the learning hierarchy in which the learner moves from thinking to doing. The learner remembers and understands a concept enough to where they can begin using it in the real world.

Analyze

Once the learner applies a concept to the real world, the next step in Bloom’s Taxonomy is Analyze. This is the stage in which learners are able to draw connections between ideas—distinguishing applied concepts from other, similar concepts. So, not only can the learner apply what they’ve learned in the real world, but they begin to see how it relates to other things they’ve learned in life.

Create

Once a learner has analyzed, something amazing happens—they’re able to produce new and original work. Because they’ve gone through the process of remembering, understanding, applying, and analyzing, they have the tools they need to improvise and invent something new using what they learned at the beginning of the process. It’s a stage that empowers learners and encourages them to use their inherent creativity.

Evaluate

Finally, the learner has made something new and it’s time to evaluate it. They’re able to see the strengths and weaknesses of a given concept and defend their decision to use it. This is the kind of learning that produces a long-term change in behavior and outcomes.