Bloom's Taxonomy and Research Questions


Asking questions is perhaps more important, and sometimes more difficult, than answering them. In undergraduate history courses, we are used to the easier of the two options--using materials provided us to answer questions posed by the professor. Perhaps only once a semester, when we write that dreaded research paper, do we ask questions. In the early 1970s Benjamin Bloom developed a taxonomy of cognitive domains that educators still use in developing their own questioning strategies. We will also use Bloom's Taxonomy in developing our questions relative to the material we work with in this course.

Notice that Bloom's tax. moves from the more simple fact-based questions to the more complex or involved analysis ("Recognize logical fallacies in reasoning"), synthesis: ("revise," "construct," "design," etc.), Evaluate: ["defend," "predict," (usually using outside sources)]. In posing our questions to each other based on the material we cover in class, we will strive to work in the more involved/complex domains. We needn't ask, for example, when the Declaration of Independence was written. We can find that information easily and quickly. Indeed, the textbook, as basic as it is (I'm especially referring to Out of Many), will do some analysis for us by comparing and contrasting different contemporary viewpoints on the Declaration or especially the U.S. Constitution. A more useful exercise, therefor than asking when was the Declaration written, might be to differentiate between the original draft of the Declaration (read it here if you're interested) and the second draft and to posit or predict how things might have been different had the colonies used the the original draft. There are a myriad of ways that one can address any issue.

Familiarize yourselves with the taxonomy and when asked to construct questions to your colleagues or for your own work, use the taxonomy as a prompt for constructing complex questions. As you know, any google search will provide you with more information on Bloom and cognitive theory.

Knowledge: 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. arrange, define, duplicate, label, list, memorize, name, order, recognize, relate, recall, repeat, reproduce state.

Comprehension: 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 examples, infers, interprets, paraphrases, predicts, rewrites, summarizes, translates.classify, describe, discuss, explain, express, identify, indicate, locate, recognize, report, restate, review, select, translate,

Application: Examples: Use a manual to calculate an employee's vacation time. Apply laws of statistics to evaluate the reliability of a written test. Key Words: applies, changes, computes, constructs, demonstrates, discovers, manipulates, modifies, operates, predicts, prepares, produces, relates, shows, solves, uses, choose, demonstrate, dramatize, employ, illustrate, interpret, operate, practice, schedule, sketch, solve, use, write.

Analysis: Examples: Troubleshoot a piece of equipment by using logical deduction. Recognize logical fallacies in reasoning. Gathers information from a department and selects the required tasks for training.Keywords: analyzes, breaks down, compares, contrasts, diagrams, deconstructs, differentiates, discriminates, distinguishes, identifies, illustrates, infers, outlines, relates, selects, separates.analyze, appraise, calculate, categorize, compare, contrast, criticize, differentiate, discriminate, distinguish, examine, experiment, question, test.

Synthesis: Examples: Write a company operations or process manual. Design a machine to perform a specific task. Integrates training from several sources to solve a problem. Revises and process to improve the outcome.Keywords: categorizes, combines, compiles, composes, creates, devises, designs, explains, generates, modifies, organizes, plans, rearranges, reconstructs, relates, reorganizes, revises, rewrites, summarizes, tells, writes, arrange, assemble, collect, compose, construct, create, design, develop, formulate, manage, organize, plan, prepare, propose, set up, write.

Evaluation: Examples: Select the most effective solution. Hire the most qualified candidate. Explain and justify a new budget.Keywords: appraises, compares, concludes, contrasts, criticizes, critiques, defends, describes, discriminates, evaluates, explains, interprets, justifies, relates, summarizes, supports, appraise, argue, assess, attach, choose compare, defend, estimate, judge, predict, rate, core, select, support, value, evaluate