Turning Bloom on its side

One of the things that stand out from a two day inset I went on last year (?) by Lane Clark was her assertion that Bloom’s taxonomy should be turned on it’s side.

In other words, she questioned the idea that the ‘Higher Order’ skills could only be accessed once the ‘Lower Order’ skills had been mastered. In order to evaluate something, you had to first comprehend, apply and assess it. She suggested that instead it was more useful to turn the model on it’s side, and suggest that each level (now column) had within it, levels of understanding and competence.

I’ve been trying to put a blog post on it together pretty much ever since, but I’ve never really been happy with, so I thought I’d just throw the idea out there. There’s something about this idea that really rings true for me. I suspect it becomes even more obvious if you look at the revised version of the taxonomy – surely the idea that you have to go through all the lower stages BEFORE you get to create doesn’t ring true in the real world. Does it?

Image from the excellent ‘Educataional Origami’ wiki

Dave Stacey

One Comment

  1. Hi Dave,

    Glad to see you blogging regularly again! The thing about Bloom’s Taxonomy is that it’s wheeled out to defend pretty much anything and everything and give it a more ‘pedagogically sound’ basis. Bloom was focusing on assessment when he produced his famous taxonomy of skills. So it’s not a case of students having to work through the other skills before, say, showing evidence of ‘synthesis’.

    This would mean that the person at your INSET was correct – there are sub-levels within each ‘layer’ of Bloom’s taxonomy. Too often it’s used on the assumption that learning activities have to be constructed to carefully guide learners from ‘knowledge’ to ‘evaluation’ step-by-step!

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