While it doesn't concern flowers, Bloom's Taxonomy has much to do with helping intellectual growth to blossom. A taxonomy is an organizational hierarchy. Bloom's Taxonomy categorizes thinking skills ranging from recalling information, the most basic skill, to evaluation, which involves judging and stating an opinion about the information. It is a tool that teachers and employee trainers can use to create lesson plans and tests that encourage critical thinking.


Benjamin Bloom was an educational psychologist who in 1956 led a project designed to classify levels of behavior in learning. In addition to cognitive, or intellectual, behavior, Bloom and his team intended to classify levels of emotional and physical skills that affect learning. However, Bloom's Taxonomy, as used today, only concerns six levels of cognitive performance: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

To understand these levels, it is helpful to consider a simple question such as, "What does 2 times 12 equal?"


At the knowledge level, students need to know that "times" means to multiply and that "multiplying" means multiple additions of a number. At the comprehension level, students should be able to interpret the word sentence into the math sentence "2 X 12 = ?" and explain how they got their answers. Students might apply this knowledge to a word problem such as, "Mary and her friend each receive 12 cookies. How many do they receive altogether?"

Working at the analysis level, students might draw a picture of two girls with an arrow from each girl to her group of 12 cookies. Synthesizing it, they might reorganize the information into a picture showing the two groups equaling 24 cookies. Finally, to stretch student thinking, a teacher might ask students to evaluate whether it would be fair to divide 24 cookies among three students by giving four to one student and ten each to the other two.


The website Office Port says that while designing the taxonomy, Bloom's team discovered that "over 95 percent of the test questions students encounter require them to think only at the lowest possible level." One intention of the taxonomy was to encourage teachers to design instruction that asks students to think in increasingly complex ways. Originally designed for K-12 education, Bloom's Taxonomy now also is used to improve employee performance.

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Basic knowledge of a task or facts is not enough without the critical thinking to put these to use, according to the Lean NC website, which is affiliated with the University of North Carolina. "It is not enough to have knowledge of a particular medical procedure or to be able to calculate an interest rate on a new car loan. These skills mean very little without the ability to know how, when and where to apply them," the website says.


Bloom's Taxonomy helps educators identify the intellectual level at which individual students are capable of working. It also helps them ask questions and create instruction aimed at critical thinking by striving to reach the top three levels of analysis, synthesis and evaluation with students ready for those levels.