If you’re looking to measure student progress in your classroom—even from a distance—Bloom’s Taxonomy is a good starting point. Proposed by educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom in 1956, this framework is used by educators worldwide to deliver a holistic learning experience in their courses. With the move to online learning in spring 2020, Bloom’s Taxonomy has gained new meaning as an engagement and measurement tool. Below, we share the six levels of this framework and how they connect to action-oriented verbs. These verbs can be used when creating learning objectives, since they correspond to a specific level of understanding.

Why is Bloom’s Taxonomy an effective tool for measuring student success?

Bloom’s Taxonomy helps students bridge the gap between their pre-existing knowledge and where they strive to be at the end of a course. The first step for instructors is setting learning objectives—the goals that students need to achieve by the end of the term. These objectives must be backed by actions in order for educators to measure student progress. Enter Bloom’s action verbs, a way to describe and classify observable learning outcomes.

The six levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy and how to apply them

The steps that come with Bloom’s Taxonomy must be completed in succession. When building your next course, here’s what to keep in mind with respect to each level.

  1. Remember: Recall facts and concepts
  2. Understand: Explain ideas and topics in detail and translate facts
  3. Apply: Use the information to solve a problem or demonstrate an idea
  4. Analyze: Draw connections between ideas and engage in critical thinking
  5. Evaluate: Justify a position by defending or critiquing ideas and information
  6. Create: Produce new and original work

After settling on course objectives, the next step is to explore learning outcomes from your lecture. These are statements of what learners will be able to perform by the end of a learning session. Learning outcomes must contain the following three pillars.

  1. Condition: The resources being used to apply learning
  2. Performance: What you hope students will be able to accomplish by the end of the learning unit
  3. Criteria: How to tell whether the student has succeeded

A common challenge for instructors is putting the performance piece into practice. In order to have actionable performance metrics, educators must draw on specific verbs that set clear expectations for what success looks like. And that’s where Bloom’s Taxonomy verbs come in.

All of Bloom’s Taxonomy verbs—which involve summary, synthesis, identification and so on—can be specifically measured. This helps educators avoid using unquantifiable verbs in their learning objectives and outcomes. Words that are traditionally used in learning, such as “include,” “understand,” or even “learn,” can’t be measured meaningfully. This is what makes Bloom’s Taxonomy so powerful—and tricky to get right.

Table: Bloom’s Taxonomy action verbs

The following table shows Bloom’s Taxonomy action verbs that support the first three levels—remember, understand and apply.

Describe Compute Demonstrate
Enumerate Explain Determine
Identify Extrapolate Discover
Outline Generalize Dramatize
Recall Paraphrase Express
Recognize Restate Investigate
Reorganize Summarize Predict

The second table of Bloom’s Taxonomy action verbs support the three higher levels—analyze, evaluate and create.

Characterize Appraise Categorize
Correlate Conclude Collaborate
Dissect Determine Compile
Maximize Interpret Formulate
Prioritize Predict Rearrange
Relate Reframe Reconstruct
Subdivide Support Reorganize
Synthesize Validate Role-play

It can be a challenge to measure student success from afar. Top Hat’s data-driven learning insights—stored in a holistic gradebook—are here to help. Learn more here.