Bloom’s Taxonomy and Measurability
We typically work with authors writing chapter-level objectives or outcomes; these benchmarks help identify important textbook components and how students should achieve/will be able to demonstrate proficiency in them. Ideally, each objective/outcome should begin with a single appropriate verb from Bloom’s taxonomy and describe a measurable action or achievement.
Bloom’s taxonomy identifies six levels of learning that extend from the most fundamental to the most challenging. Please note there are two versions of Bloom’s taxonomy:
- In the first version, the levels are knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.
- In the updated version, as shown below, the levels are remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, and create.
Measurability indicates that students can demonstrate their proficiency in a topic by completing an assessment, such as an activity, exercise, or assignment. In evaluating that assessment, an instructor should be able to impartially justify, for example, whether a student has provided the correct answer and/or has demonstrated comprehension.
- Understand how cuckoo clock mechanisms work. This objective/outcome is harder to measure because “understanding” this topic could mean a variety of things and the degree of understanding is not specified. How will students be able to prove they understand the mechanisms’ operation?
- Explain how cuckoo clock mechanisms work. This objective/outcome is easier to measure because a student’s explanation of the topic can be quantified as complete or incomplete. The explanation—which is measurable—demonstrates the student’s understanding of the mechanisms’ operation—which, on its own, is not measurable.
The majority of auto-graded activities are best suited to support the three to four lowest Bloom’s levels. It is more difficult to design auto-graded activities that target the evaluation level, and it is nearly impossible to design auto-graded material that targets the creation level. Fortunately, the Active Learning platform also permits open-ended, manually graded activities, such as assignments. We recommend using those to support learning activities at the highest levels of Bloom’s taxonomy.
For further exploration of how the lower Bloom’s levels map to auto-graded assessments, see the Guide to Creating Quality Assessments.