Creating Writing Assignments: Taxonomy of Learning Objectives
Bloom et al.’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives for the Cognitive Domain (1956) (with Outcome-Illustrating Verbs)*
Designing Assignments: Exercise in Assignment Design Using Bloom’s Taxonomy (pdf)
Remembering (recalling) appropriate, previously learned information, such as terminology or specific facts.
Verbs to use in assignments to have students demonstrate knowledge: define; describe; enumerate; identify; label; list; match; name; read; record; reproduce; select; state; view.
Example: Ask your students to do a free-write in class, in which they identify three causes of the Civil War, or define Progressivism. Use their responses as a starting point for discussion or have the students discuss their responses in small groups.
Understanding the meaning of informational materials.
Verbs to use in assignments to have students demonstrate comprehension: classify; cite; convert; describe; discuss; estimate; explain; generalize; give examples; make sense of; paraphrase; restate (in own words); summarize; trace; understand.
Example: Ask your students to paraphrase an author’s argument, or a part of their lecture notes, in one paragraph. Then divide the students into pairs and ask the students to discuss any gaps or discrepancies in their comprehension and to construct a new and better paragraph together.
Using previously learned information in new and concrete situations to solve problems that have single or best answers.
Verbs to use in assignments so that students can demonstrate their ability to apply: act; administer; articulate; assess; chart; collect; compute; construct; contribute; control; determine; develop; discover; establish; extend; implement; include; inform; instruct; operationalize; participate; predict; prepare; preserve; produce; project; provide; relate; report; show; solve; teach; transfer; use; utilize.
Example: Ask students to relate classroom instruction on the immigrant experience in the United States to primary sources which you provide (or which they collect on their own). Ask the students to use the primary sources to teach a course theme to their peers or have them report their observations on a threaded discussion list.
Breaking down informational materials into their component parts, examining (and trying to understand the organizational structure of) such information to develop divergent conclusions by identifying motives or causes, making inferences, and/or finding evidence to support generalizations.
Verbs to use in assignments so that students can demonstrate their ability to analyze: break down; correlate; diagram; differentiate; discriminate; distinguish; focus; illustrate; infer; limit; outline; point out; prioritize; recognize; separate; subdivide.
Example: In an exam essay question, students may be asked to analyze the reasons for European settlement in the “ New World.” Beyond simply identifying the reasons, they are asked to prioritize the reasons in order of significance and to distinguish between the reasons for settlement in New England vs. Virginia.
Creatively or divergently applying prior knowledge and skills to produce a new or original whole.
Verbs to use in assignments so that students can demonstrate their ability to synthesize: adapt; anticipate; categorize; collaborate; combine; communicate; compare; compile; compose; contrast; create; design; devise; express; facilitate; formulate; generate; incorporate; individualize; initiate; integrate; intervene; model; modify; negotiate; plan; progress; rearrange; reconstruct; reinforce; reorganize; revise; structure; substitute; validate.
Example: In preparation for a research paper, students may be asked to create a prospectus, in which they formulate a hypothesis, compile a bibliography, and plan a research schedule.
Judging the value of material based on personal values or opinions, resulting in an end product, with a given purpose, without real right or wrong answers.
Verbs to use in assignments so that students can demonstrate their ability to evaluate: appraise; compare and contrast; conclude; criticize; critique; decide; defend; interpret; judge; justify; reframe; support.
Example: Have students write a five-page essay in which they compare and contrast two authors’ arguments on a given topic, evaluate their use of evidence, and defend one interpretation over the other.
*Lorin Anderson, David Krathwohl, et al. published a revision of the taxonomy in 2000: A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. New York: Longman.