Reflecting on Bloom’s Taxonomy and Its Use in Writing Learning Outcomes

This entry is part of a series on my learning journal for participating in Fresno State’s “Introducing to Teaching Online using the QLT (Quality Learning and Teaching) Instrument.

I was extremely fortunate to have had some exposure to Bloom’s Taxonomy early on in my education. It was in lower division GE course on critical thinking, “English 3” at Fresno City College, where we used Bloom’s Taxonomy as a framework for identifying and classifying kinds of thinking. I am always happy to revisit Bloom’s Taxonomy in my teaching more explicitly than I do in my regular designing and planning workflows where Bloom is more on auto-pilot than a specific reference.

As an adjunct or part time instructor, I’m not in the habit of writing learning outcomes: learning outcomes are traditionally handed to me. I write outcomes for specific assignments and inform my students how they’re mapped (or “aligned”) to the outcomes for the course—in fact I often ask them to make some guesses or predictions as to how assignments they’ve been given will do this for them—I think that using purposeful, actionable verbs will be immeasurably valuable in both my f2f and online teaching. Now I can ask questions like “If I want them to be able to do X-actionable-verb, how can I assess their achievement on X-actionable-verb?”

I’m an English person. I live and breathe words, phrases, clauses, and so on. For my part, I was excited to see the new “Bloom Wheel” that maps specific verbs to each level of the hierarchy. I believe having access to this list will help streamline generating learning outcomes as well as reinforce which area of the hierarchy I’m wanting us to focus on. This also invites me to engage in a similar process to which I ask my own students to engage: consult a lisBlooms Pedagogy Wheelt of more specific, active verbs to attribute to an author when they’re summarizing, paraphrasing, or directly quoting them, for writers rarely ever merely “say” or “state,” things—they “argue,” “emphasize,” “deplore,” “qualify,” “endorse,” “assert,” and so on. I ask my students to do this because finding an accurate verb to attribute to an author’s statement forces them to really understand what they’ve read. In the other side of the same coin, forcing me to choose an accurate verb to attribute to learning outcomes really forces me to take inventory of and understand what I’m asking my students to do and why I’m asking them to do it.