Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Use Bloom's Taxonomy Wheel for Writing Learning Outcomes

Do you have problems writing learning outcomes/objectives for your content or courses?

Or more specifically, do you have trouble finding the right ACTION VERBS to describe what you want your students to achieve from the course, module, topic or unit?

Have you tried using Bloom's Taxonomy wheel(s) before to assist finding those magic action verbs?

Here are a few examples:

Bloom's Revised Taxonomy Wheel

Bloom's Taxonomy Wheel



Why not print out the one you like most (not too many, due to the shortage of trees today!), or download the Bloom's Taxonomy wheel images above, and then use them to find those magic action verbs that you might have struggled to find before. These wheels work much better than idiotic tables of action verbs according to Bloom's taxonomy. Trust me!

Also, please learn how to apply Bloom's taxonomy to web 2.0 learning tools (and 21st Century learning):

Bloom's Digital Taxonomy

"It's not about the tools, it's using the tools to facilitate learning."

Finally, here are a few sites worth exploring to learn more about the Bloom's taxonomy (if needed):


I still remember when I started off as an Instructional Designer in 2001, I was required to assist subject matter experts (SME) in constructing learning objectives/outcomes. Especially, in the beginning it was a nightmare, because I struggled with finding and suggesting the appropriate action verbs. But then one of the senior instructional designers introduced me to Bloom's taxonomy wheel(s), and from then on writing instructional sound learning outcomes has been as easy as eating rambutan.

When developing content with SMEs it certainly helps having relevant and agreed upon learning outcomes early on to guide the content development process. In other words, it is good to spend some time on constructing them, and not just creating them as an afterthought, because of some education ministry requirements.

I am not sure about your country, but in Malaysia the Bloom's taxonomy is the reference that Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) recommend (a requirement to use!), and most Universities use it to construct learning outcomes with an eye on infusing more deep thinking (critical and creative), or higher order thinking skills (HOTS). As an action verb classification system I am fine, but I have low regard for Bloom's taxonomy as a pyramid, whereby Evaluation (old version) is on the top. It is helpful, but to me it is misleading. But that, we can discuss in another post sometime in the future (However, your opinion about Bloom's taxonomy would be highly appreciated).

Also, I would like to highlight that Clayton R. Wright has simplified the process in finding those magic action verbs. He found that many participants in his workshops found it easier to deal with a smaller number of categories than the six stated by Bloom. Some verbs can be found in several categories, but it depends on how they are used. Rather than use verbs at the lower-end of the skills spectrum, he suggests that emphasis should be placed on application and problem-solving skills. The list is not "a magic bullet", but it helps educators who have difficulty finding the word that describes what they want their students to achieve.

Click the graphic to enlarge it

(Reference: Instructing in an International Setting: A Handbook for Those Who Will Provide Training in Developing Countries (p. 3-24), by C. R. Wright, 1997)

"If we could transform these tables into a wheel, it would simply be awesome!"

When creating objectives for secondary and post-secondary courses, Clayton reminds his workshop participants to also consider the 21st Century Learning Outcomes developed by the League for Innovation and sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts. These learning outcomes were validated by 260 colleges in Canada and the United States. They cover a variety of skills such as technology skills, communication skills, computational skills, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, information management skills, interpersonal skills, personal skills, and community skills. All of these skills are important for those living in a digital world.

Although, learning outcomes usually helps in the content development process, but do they help or guide students in the learning process?

Let's recall our own experience as a student. To be honest, as a student I never gave two hoops about reading learning outcomes/objectives, whether they were in the course plan/guide/outline, courseware, or in a book. Neither can I recall discussing, nor listening to other students discussing about their learning outcomes. Well, that is my experience! However, it would be interesting if there was some actual research done on how students use learning outcomes to facilitate their own learning. Or perhaps they don't use them at all! So...

  • Are learning outcomes really important to facilitate the learning process?
  • Do we need them?
  • Are they destructive to facilitate creativity and innovation?
  • Are there other ways to tell our students what learning output we should expect from them?
  • Do we need to be more creative in the way we express learning outcomes?

What do you think? Speak up! It is about time! Thank you :)


marry said...

Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!

Advertising Dissertation

Dissertation Help said...

Nice, accurate and to the point. Not everyone can provide information with proper flow. Good post. I am going to save the URL and will definitely visit again. Keep it up.
Dissertation Help | Custom Dissertation