Bloom's Taxonomy

Benjamin Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning Domains - Cognitive, Affective, Psychomotor Domains - design and evaluation toolkit for training and learning

Bloom's Taxonomy

Bloom's Taxonomy - learning domains [edit]

Benjamin Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning Domains - Cognitive, Affective, Psychomotor Domains - design and evaluation toolkit for training and learning

Bloom's Taxonomy, (in full: 'Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning Domains', or strictly speaking: Bloom's 'Taxonomy Of Educational Objectives') was initially (the first part) published in 1956 under the leadership of American academic and educational expert Dr Benjamin S Bloom. 'Bloom's Taxonomy' was originally created in and for an academic context, (the development commencing in 1948), when Benjamin Bloom chaired a committee of educational psychologists, based in American education, whose aim was to develop a system of categories of learning behaviour to assist in the design and assessment of educational learning. Bloom's Taxonomy has since been expanded over many years by Bloom and other contributors (notably Anderson and Krathwhol as recently as 2001, whose theories extend Bloom's work to far more complex levels than are explained here, and which are more relevant to the field of academic education than to corporate training and development).

Where indicated Bloom's Taxonomy tables are adapted and reproduced with permission from Allyn & Bacon, Boston USA, being the publishers and copyright owners of 'Taxonomy Of Educational Objectives' (Bloom et al 1956).

Most corporate trainers and HR professionals, coaches and teachers, will benefit significantly by simply understanding the basics of Bloom's Taxonomy, as featured below. (If you want to know more, there is a vast amount of related reading and references, listed at the end of this summary explanation.)

Bloom's Taxonomy was primarily created for academic education, however it is relevant to all types of learning.

Interestingly, at the outset, Bloom believed that education should focus on 'mastery' of subjects and the promotion of higher forms of thinking, rather than a utilitarian approach to simply transferring facts. Bloom demonstrated decades ago that most teaching tended to be focused on fact-transfer and information recall - the lowest level of training - rather than true meaningful personal development, and this remains a central challenge for educators and trainers in modern times. Much corporate training is also limited to non-participative, unfeeling knowledge-transfer, (all those stultifyingly boring powerpoint presentations...), which is reason alone to consider the breadth and depth approach exemplified in Bloom's model.

You might find it helpful now to see the Bloom Taxonomy overview. Did you realise there were all these potential dimensions to training and learning?


Development of bloom's taxonomy

Benjamin S Bloom (1913-99) attained degrees at Pennsylvania State University in 1935. He joined the Department of Education at the University of Chicago in 1940 and attained a PhD in Education in 1942, during which time he specialised in examining. Here he met his mentor Ralph Tyler with whom he first began to develop his ideas for developing a system (or 'taxonomy') of specifications to enable educational training and learning objectives to be planned and measured properly - improving the effectiveness of developing 'mastery' instead of simply transferring facts for mindless recall. Bloom continued to develop the Learning Taxonomy model through the 1960's, and was appointed Charles H Swift Distinguished Service Professor at Chicago in 1970. He served as adviser on education to several overseas governments including of Israel and India.

Bloom's (and his colleagues') initial attention was focused on the 'Cognitive Domain', which was the first published part of Bloom's Taxonomy, featured in the publication: 'Taxonomy Of Educational Objectives: Handbook 1, The Cognitive Domain' (Bloom, Engelhart, Furst, Hill, Krathwohl, 1956).

The 'Taxonomy Of Educational Objectives: Handbook II, The Affective Domain' (Bloom, Masia, Krathwohl) as the title implies, deals with the detail of the second domain, the 'Affective Domain', and was published in 1964.

Various people suggested detail for the third 'Psychomotor Domain', which explains why this domain detail varies in different representations of the complete Bloom Taxonomy. The three most popularly referenced versions of the Psychomotor Domain seem to be those of RH Dave (1967/70), EJ Simpson (1966/72), and AJ Harrow (1972).

As such 'Bloom's Taxonomy' describes the three-domain structure, within which the detail may vary, especially for the third domain.

Bloom's Taxonomy has therefore since 1956 provided a basis for ideas which have been used (and developed) around the world by academics, educators, teachers and trainers, for the preparation of learning evaluation materials, and also provided the platform for the complete 'Bloom's Taxonomy' (including the detail for the third 'Psychomotor Domain') as we see it today. Collectively these concepts which make up the whole Bloom Taxonomy continue to be useful and very relevant to the planning and design of: school, college and university education, adult and corporate training courses, teaching and lesson plans, and learning materials; they also serve as a template for the evaluation of: training, teaching, learning and development, within every aspect of education and industry.

If you are involved in the design, delivery or evaluation of teaching, training, courses, learning and lesson plans, you should find Bloom's Taxonomy useful, as a template, framework or simple checklist to ensure you are using the most appropriate type of training or learning in order to develop the capabilities required or wanted.

Training or learning design and evaluation need not cover all aspects of the Taxonomy - just make sure there is coverage of the aspects that are appropriate.

As such, if in doubt about your training aims - check what's possible, and perhaps required, by referring to Bloom's Taxonomy.


Explanation of bloom's taxonomy

First, don't be put off by the language or the apparent complexity of Bloom's Taxonomy - at this basic level it's a relatively simple and logical model.

Taxonomy means 'a set of classification principles', or 'structure', and Domain simply means 'category'. Bloom and his colleagues were academics, looking at learning as a behavioural science, and writing for other academics, which is why they never called it 'Bloom's Learning Structure', which would perhaps have made more sense to people in the business world. (Interestingly this example of the use of technical language provides a helpful lesson in learning itself, namely, if you want to get an idea across to people, you should try to use language that your audience will easily recognise and understand.)

Bloom's Taxonomy underpins the classical 'Knowledge, Attitude, Skills' structure of learning method and evaluation, and aside from the even simpler Kirkpatrick learning evaluation model, Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning Domains remains the most widely used system of its kind in education particularly, and also industry and corporate training. It's easy to see why, because it is such a simple, clear and effective model, both for explanation and application of learning objectives, teaching and training methods, and measurement of learning outcomes.

Bloom's Taxonomy provides an excellent structure for planning, designing, assessing and evaluating training and learning effectiveness. The model also serves as a sort of checklist, by which you can ensure that training is planned to deliver all the necessary development for students, trainees or learners, and a template by which you can assess the validity and coverage of any existing training, be it a course, a curriculum, or an entire training and development programme for a large organisation.

It is fascinating that Bloom's Taxonomy model (1956/64) and Kirkpatrick's learning evaluation model (1959) remain classical reference models and tools into the 21st century. This is because concepts such as Bloom's Taxonomy, Kirkpatrick's model, Maslow's Hierarchy of NeedsMcgregor's XY Theory, The SWOT analysis model, and Berne's Transactional Analysis theory, to name a few other examples, are timeless, and as such will always be relevant to the understanding and development of people and organisations.


Bloom's taxonomy definitions

Bloom's Taxonomy model is in three parts, or 'overlapping domains'. Again, Bloom used rather academic language, but the meanings are simple to understand:

  1. Cognitive domain (intellectual capability, ie., knowledge, or 'think')
  2. Affective domain (feelings, emotions and behaviour, ie., attitude, or 'feel')
  3. Psychomotor domain (manual and physical skills, ie., skills, or 'do')

This has given rise to the obvious short-hand variations on the theme which summarise the three domains; for example, Skills-Knowledge-Attitude, KAS, Do-Think-Feel, etc.

Various people have since built on Bloom's work, notably in the third domain, the 'psychomotor' or skills, which Bloom originally identified in a broad sense, but which he never fully detailed. This was apparently because Bloom and his colleagues felt that the academic environment held insufficient expertise to analyse and create a suitable reliable structure for the physical ability 'Psychomotor' domain. While this might seem strange, such caution is not uncommon among expert and highly specialised academics - they strive for accuracy as well as innovation. In Bloom's case it is as well that he left a few gaps for others to complete the detail; the model seems to have benefited from having several different contributors fill in the detail over the years, such as Anderson, Krathwhol, Masia, Simpson, Harrow and Dave (these last three having each developed versions of the third 'Psychomotor' domain).

In each of the three domains Bloom's Taxonomy is based on the premise that the categories are ordered in degree of difficulty. An important premise of Bloom's Taxonomy is that each category (or 'level') must be mastered before progressing to the next. As such the categories within each domain are levels of learning development, and these levels increase in difficulty.

The simple matrix structure enables a checklist or template to be constructed for the design of learning programmes, training courses, lesson plans, etc. Effective learning - especially in organisations, where training is to be converted into organisational results - should arguably cover all the levels of each of the domains, where relevant to the situation and the learner.

The learner should benefit from development of knowledge and intellect (Cognitive Domain); attitude and beliefs (Affective Domain); and the ability to put physical and bodily skills into effect - to act (Psychomotor Domain).


Bloom's taxonomy overview

Here's a really simple adapted 'at-a-glance' representation of Bloom's Taxonomy. The definitions are intended to be simple modern day language, to assist explanation and understanding. This simple overview can help you (and others) to understand and explain the taxonomy. Refer back to it when considering and getting to grips with the detailed structures - this overview helps to clarify and distinguish the levels.

For the more precise original Bloom Taxonomy terminology and definitions see the more detailed domain structures beneath this at-a-glance model. It's helpful at this point to consider also the 'conscious competence' learning stages model, which provides a useful perspective for all three domains, and the concept of developing competence by stages in sequence.

1. Recall data1. Receive (awareness)1. Imitation (copy)
2. Understand2. Respond (react)2. Manipulation (follow instructions)
3. Apply (use)3. Value (understand and act)3. Develop Precision
4. Analyse (structure/elements)4. Organise personal value system4. Articulation (combine, integrate related skills)
5. Synthesize (create/build)5. Internalize value system (adopt behaviour) 5. Naturalization (automate, become expert)
6. Evaluate (assess, judge in relational terms)  

(Detail of Bloom's Taxonomy Domains: 'Cognitive Domain' - 'Affective Domain' - 'Psychomotor Domain')


N.B. In the Cognitive Domain, levels 5 and 6, Synthesis and Evaluation, were subsequently inverted by Anderson and Krathwhol in 2001. Anderson and Krathwhol also developed a complex two-dimensional extension of the Bloom Taxonomy, which is not explained here. If you want to learn more about the bleeding edge of academic educational learning and evaluation there is a list of further references below. For most mortals in teaching and training what's on this page is probably enough to make a start, and a big difference.

Note also that the Psychomotor Domain featured above is based on the domain detail established by RH Dave (who was a student of Bloom) in 1967 (conference paper) and 1970 (book). The Dave model is the simplest and generally easiest to apply in the corporate development environment. Alternative Psychomotor Domains structures have been suggested by others, notably Harrow and Simpson's models detailed below. I urge you explore the Simpson and Harrow Psychomotor Domain alternatives - especially for the development of children and young people, and for developing skills in adults that take people out of their comfort zones. This is because the Simpson and Harrow models offer different emotional perspectives and advantages, which are useful for certain learning situations, and which do not appear so obviously in the structure of the Dave model.

(Back to the development of Bloom's Taxonomy.)

Bloom's Taxonomy in more detailed structure follows, with more formal terminology and definitions. Refer back to the Bloom Taxonomy overview any time you need to refresh or clarify your perception of the model. It is normal to find that the extra detail can initially cloud the basic structure - which is actually quite simple - so it's helpful to keep the simple overview to hand.


Bloom's taxonomy learning domains - detailed structures [edit]


1. Bloom's taxonomy - cognitive domain - (intellect - knowledge - 'think')

Bloom's Taxonomy 1956 Cognitive Domain is as follows. An adjusted model was produced by Anderson and Krathwhol in 2001 in which the levels five and six (synthesis and evaluation) were inverted (reference: Anderson & Krathwohl, A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, 2001). This is why you will see different versions of this Cognitive Domain model. Debate continues as to the order of levels five and six, which is interesting given that Bloom's Taxonomy states that the levels must be mastered in order.

In my humble opinion it's possible to argue either case (Synthesis then Evaluation, or vice-versa) depending on the circumstances and the precise criteria stated or represented in the levels concerned, plus the extent of 'creative thinking' and 'strategic authority' attributed to or expected at the 'Synthesis' level. In short - pick the order which suits your situation. (Further comment about synthesis and evaluation priority.)

cognitive domain
 levelcategory or 'level'behaviour descriptionsexamples of activity to be trained, or demonstration and evidence to be measured'key words' (verbs which describe the activity to be trained or measured at each level)
1Knowledgerecall or recognise informationmultiple-choice test, recount facts or statistics, recall a process, rules, definitions; quote law or procedurearrange, define, describe, label, list, memorise, recognise, relate, reproduce, select, state
2Comprehensionunderstand meaning, re-state data in one's own words, interpret, extrapolate, translateexplain or interpret meaning from a given scenario or statement, suggest treatment, reaction or solution to given problem, create examples or metaphorsexplain, reiterate, reword, critique, classify, summarise, illustrate, translate, review, report, discuss, re-write, estimate, interpret, theorise, paraphrase, reference, example
3Applicationuse or apply knowledge, put theory into practice, use knowledge in response to real circumstancesput a theory into practical effect, demonstrate, solve a problem, manage an activityuse, apply, discover, manage, execute, solve, produce, implement, construct, change, prepare, conduct, perform, react, respond, role-play
4Analysisinterpret elements, organizational principles, structure, construction, internal relationships; quality, reliability of individual componentsidentify constituent parts and functions of a process or concept, or de-construct a methodology or process, making qualitative assessment of elements, relationships, values and effects; measure requirements or needsanalyse, break down, catalogue, compare, quantify, measure, test, examine, experiment, relate, graph, diagram, plot, extrapolate, value, divide
5Synthesis (create/build)develop new unique structures, systems, models, approaches, ideas; creative thinking, operationsdevelop plans or procedures, design solutions, integrate methods, resources, ideas, parts; create teams or new approaches, write protocols or contingenciesdevelop, plan, build, create, design, organise, revise, formulate, propose, establish, assemble, integrate, re-arrange, modify
6Evaluationassess effectiveness of whole concepts, in relation to values, outputs, efficacy, viability; critical thinking, strategic comparison and review; judgement relating to external criteriareview strategic options or plans in terms of efficacy, return on investment or cost-effectiveness, practicability; assess sustainability; perform a SWOT analysis in relation to alternatives; produce a financial justification for a proposition or venture, calculate the effects of a plan or strategy; perform a detailed and costed risk analysis with recommendations and justificationsreview, justify, assess, present a case for, defend, report on, investigate, direct, appraise, argue, project-manage

Refresh your understanding of where this fits into the Bloom Taxonomy overview.

Based on the 'Taxonomy Of Educational Objectives: Handbook 1, The Cognitive Domain' (Bloom, Engelhart, Furst, Hill, Krathwohl) 1956. This table is adapted and reproduced with permission from Allyn & Bacon, Boston USA, being the publishers and copyright owners of 'Taxonomy Of Educational Objectives' (Bloom et al 1956).

Note that levels 5 and 6, Synthesis and Evaluation, were subsequently inverted by Anderson and Krathwhol in 2001, on which point:

Cognitive domain - order ranking of 'synthesis' and 'evaluation'

In my view, the question of the order of Synthesis and Evaluation is dependent upon the extent of strategic expectation and authority that is built into each, which depends on your situation. Hence it is possible to make a case for Bloom's original order shown above, or Anderson and Krathwhol's version of 2001 (which simply inverts levels 5 and 6).

The above version is the original, and according to the examples and assumptions presented in the above matrix, is perfectly appropriate and logical. I also personally believe the above order to be appropriate for corporate and industrial training and development if 'Evaluation' is taken to represent executive or strategic assessment and decision-making, which is effectively at the pinnacle of the corporate intellect-set.

I believe inversion of Synthesis and Evaluation carries a risk unless it is properly qualified. This is because the highest skill level absolutely must involve strategic evaluation; effective management - especially of large activities or organisations - relies on strategic evaluation. And clearly, strategic evaluation, is by implication included in the 'Evaluation' category.

I would also argue that in order to evaluate properly and strategically, we need first to have learned and experienced the execution of the strategies (ie, to have completed the synthesis step) that we intend to evaluate.

However, you should feel free to invert levels 5 and 6 if warranted by your own particular circumstances, particularly if your interpretation of 'Evaluation' is non-strategic, and not linked to decision-making. Changing the order of the levels is warranted if local circumstances alter the degree of difficulty. Remember, the taxonomy is based in the premise that the degree of difficulty increases through the levels - people need to learn to walk before they can run - it's that simple. So, if your situation causes 'Synthesis' to be more challenging than 'Evaluation', then change the order of the levels accordingly (ie., invert 5 and 6 like Anderson and Krathwhol did), so that you train people in the correct order.


2. Bloom's taxonomy - affective domain - (feeling, emotions - attitude - 'feel')

Bloom's Taxonomy second domain, the Affective Domain, was detailed by Bloom, Krathwhol and Masia in 1964 (Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: Volume II, The Affective Domain. Bloom, Krathwohl and Masia.) Bloom's theory advocates this structure and sequence for developing attitude - also now commonly expressed in the modern field of personal development as 'beliefs'. Again, as with the other domains, the Affective Domain detail provides a framework for teaching, training, assessing and evaluating the effectiveness of training and lesson design and delivery, and also the retention by and affect upon the learner or trainee.

affective domain
 levelcategory or 'level'behaviour descriptionsexamples of experience, or demonstration and evidence to be measured'key words' (verbs which describe the activity to be trained or measured at each level)
1Receiveopen to experience, willing to hearlisten to teacher or trainer, take interest in session or learning experience, take notes, turn up, make time for learning experience, participate passivelyask, listen, focus, attend, take part, discuss, acknowledge, hear, be open to, retain, follow, concentrate, read, do, feel
2Respondreact and participate activelyparticipate actively in group discussion, active participation in activity, interest in outcomes, enthusiasm for action, question and probe ideas, suggest interpretationreact, respond, seek clarification, interpret, clarify, provide other references and examples, contribute, question, present, cite, become animated or excited, help team, write, perform
3Valueattach values and express personal opinionsdecide worth and relevance of ideas, experiences; accept or commit to particular stance or actionargue, challenge, debate, refute, confront, justify, persuade, criticise,
4Organise or Conceptualize valuesreconcile internal conflicts; develop value systemqualify and quantify personal views, state personal position and reasons, state beliefsbuild, develop, formulate, defend, modify, relate, prioritise, reconcile, contrast, arrange, compare
5Internalize or characterise valuesadopt belief system and philosophyself-reliant; behave consistently with personal value setact, display, influence, solve, practice,

Based on the 'Taxonomy Of Educational Objectives: Volume 2, The Affective Domain' (Bloom, Masia, Krathwohl) 1964. See also 'Taxonomy Of Educational Objectives: Handbook 1, The Cognitive Domain' (Bloom, Engelhart, Furst, Hill, Krathwohl) 1956. This table is adapted and reproduced with permission from Allyn & Bacon, Boston USA, being the publishers and copyright owners of 'Taxonomy Of Educational Objectives' (Bloom et al 1956).

This domain for some people can be a little trickier to understand than the others. The differences between the levels, especially between 3, 4, and 5, are subtle, and not so clear as the separations elsewhere in the Taxonomy. You will find it easier to understand if you refer back to the bloom's taxonomy learning domains at-a-glance.


3. Bloom's taxonomy - psychomotor domain - (physical - skills - 'do')

The Psychomotor Domain was ostensibly established to address skills development relating to manual tasks and physical movement, however it also concerns and covers modern day business and social skills such as communications and operation IT equipment, for example telephone and keyboard skills, or public speaking. Thus, 'motor' skills extend beyond the originally traditionally imagined manual and physical skills, so always consider using this domain, even if you think your environment is covered adequately by the Cognitive and Affective Domains. Whatever the training situation, it is likely that the Psychomotor Domain is significant. The Dave version of the Psychomotor Domain is featured most prominently here because in my view it is the most relevant and helpful for work- and life-related development, although the Psychomotor Domains suggested by Simpson and Harrow are more relevant and helpful for certain types of adult training and development, as well as the teaching and development of young people and children, so do explore them all. Each has its uses and advantages.

Dave's psychomotor domain taxonomy

psychomotor domain (dave)
 levelcategory or 'level'behaviour descriptionsexamples of activity or demonstration and evidence to be measured'key words' (verbs which describe the activity to be trained or measured at each level)
1Imitationcopy action of another; observe and replicatewatch teacher or trainer and repeat action, process or activitycopy, follow, replicate, repeat, adhere
2Manipulationreproduce activity from instruction or memorycarry out task from written or verbal instructionre-create, build, perform, execute, implement
3Precisionexecute skill reliably, independent of helpperform a task or activity with expertise and to high quality without assistance or instruction; able to demonstrate an activity to other learnersdemonstrate, complete, show, perfect, calibrate, control,
4Articulationadapt and integrate expertise to satisfy a non-standard objectiverelate and combine associated activities to develop methods to meet varying, novel requirementsconstruct, solve, combine, coordinate, integrate, adapt, develop, formulate, modify, master
5Naturalizationautomated, unconscious mastery of activity and related skills at strategic leveldefine aim, approach and strategy for use of activities to meet strategic needdesign, specify, manage, invent, project-manage

Based on RH Dave's version of the Psychomotor Domain ('Developing and Writing Behavioral Objectives', 1970. The theory was first presented at a Berlin conference 1967, hence you may see Dave's model attributed to 1967 or 1970).

Refresh your understanding of where the Psychomotor Domain fits into the Bloom Taxonomy overview.


It is also useful to refer to the 'Conscious Competence' model, which arguably overlays, and is a particularly helpful perspective for explaining and representing the 'Psychomotor' domain, and notably Dave's version. (The 'Conscious Competence' model also provides a helpful perspective for the other two domains - Cognitive and Affective, and for the alternative Psychomotor Domains suggested by Harrow and Simpson below.)


Alternative psychomotor domain taxonomy versions

Dave's Psychomotor Domain above is probably the most commonly referenced and used psychomotor domain interpretation. There are certainly two others; Simpson's, and Harrow's, (if you know any others please contact us).

It's worth exploring and understanding the differences between the three Psychomotor Domain interpretations. Certainly each is different and has a different use.

In my view the Dave model is adequate and appropriate for most adult training in the workplace.

For young children, or for adults learning entirely new and challenging physical skills (which may require some additional attention to awareness and perception, and mental preparation), or for anyone learning skills which involve expression of feeling and emotion, then the Simpson or Harrow models can be more useful because they more specifically address these issues.

Simpson's version is particularly useful if you are taking adults out of their comfort zones, because it addresses sensory, perception (and by implication attitudinal) and preparation issues. For example anything fearsome or threatening, like emergency routines, conflict situations, tough physical tasks or conditions.

Harrow's version is particularly useful if you are developing skills which are intended ultimately to express, convey and/or influence feelings, because its final level specifically addresses the translation of bodily activities (movement, communication, body language, etc) into conveying feelings and emotion, including the effect on others. For example, public speaking, training itself, and high-level presentation skills.

The Harrow and Simpson models are also appropriate for other types of adult development. For example, teaching adults to run a difficult meeting, or make a parachute jump, will almost certainly warrant attention on sensory perception and awareness, and on preparing oneself mentally, emotionally, and physically. In such cases therefore, Simpson's or Harrow's model would be more appropriate than Dave's.


Simpson's psychomotor domain taxonomy

Elizabeth Simpson's interpretation of the Psychomotor domain differs from Dave's chiefly because it contains extra two levels prior to the initial imitation or copy stage. Arguably for certain situations, Simpson's first two levels, 'Perception' and 'Set' stage are assumed or incorporated within Dave's first 'Imitation' level, assuming that you are dealing with fit and healthy people (probably adults rather than young children), and that 'getting ready' or 'preparing oneself' is part of the routine to be taught, learned or measured. If not, then the more comprehensive Simpson version might help ensure that these two prerequisites for physical task development are checked and covered. As such, the Simpson model or the Harrow version is probably preferable than the Dave model for the development of young children.

psychomotor domain (simpson)
 levelcategory or 'level'descriptionexamples of activity or demonstration and evidence to be measured'key words' (verbs which describe the activity to be trained or measured at each level)
1Perceptionawarenessuse and/or selection of senses to absorb data for guiding movementrecognise, distinguish, notice, touch , hear, feel, etc
2Setreadinessmental, physical or emotional preparation before experience or taskarrange, prepare, get set
3Guided Responseattemptimitate or follow instruction, trial and errorimitate, copy, follow, try
4Mechanismbasic proficiencycompetently respond to stimulus for actionmake, perform, shape, complete
5Complex Overt Responseexpert proficiencyexecute a complex process with expertisecoordinate, fix, demonstrate
6Adaptationadaptable proficiencyalter response to reliably meet varying challenges adjust, integrate, solve
7Originationcreative proficiencydevelop and execute new integrated responses and activities design, formulate, modify, re-design, trouble-shoot 

Adapted and simplified representation of Simpson's Psychomotor Domain ('The classification of educational objectives in the psychomotor domain', 1972). Elizabeth Simpson seems actually to have first presented her Psychomotor Domain interpretation in 1966 in the Illinois Journal of Home Economics. Hence you may see the theory attributed to either 1966 or 1972.


Harrow's psychomotor domain taxonomy

Harrow's interpretation of the Psychomotor domain is strongly biased towards the development of physical fitness, dexterity and agility, and control of the physical 'body', to a considerable level of expertise. As such the Harrow model is more appropriate to the development of young children's bodily movement, skills, and expressive movement than, say, the development of a corporate trainee's keyboard skills. By the same token, the Harrow model would be perhaps more useful for the development of adult public speaking or artistic performance skills than Dave's or Simpson's, because the Harrow model focuses on the translation of physical and bodily activity into meaningful expression. The Harrow model is the only one of the three Psychomotor Domain versions which specifically implies emotional influence on others within the most expert level of bodily control, which to me makes it rather special.

As ever, choose the framework that best fits your situation, and the needs and aims of the trainees or students.

psychomotor domain (harrow)
 levelcategory or 'level'descriptionexamples of activity or demonstration and evidence to be measured'key words' (verbs which describe the activity to be trained or measured at each level)
1Reflex Movementinvoluntary reactionrespond physically instinctivelyreact, respond
2Basic Fundamental Movementsbasic simple movementalter position, move, perform simple actiongrasp, walk, stand, throw
3Perceptual Abilitiesbasic responseuse than one ability in response to different sensory perceptionscatch, write, explore, distinguish using senses
4Physical Abilitiesfitnessdevelop strength, endurance, agility, controlendure, maintain, repeat, increase, improve, exceed
5Skilled Movementscomplex operationsexecute and adapt advanced, integrated movementsdrive, build, juggle, play a musical instrument, craft
6Non-discursive Communicationmeaningfully expressive activity or outputactivity expresses meaningful interpretation express and convey feeling and meaning through movement and actions

Adapted and simplified representation of Harrow's Psychomotor Domain (1972). (Non-discursive means intuitively direct and well expressed.)


In conclusion

Bloom's Taxonomy is a wonderful reference model for all involved in teaching, training, learning, coaching - in the design, delivery and evaluation of these development methods. At its basic level (refresh your memory of the Bloom Taxonomy overview if helpful), the Taxonomy provides a simple, quick and easy checklist to start to plan any type of personal development. It helps to open up possibilities for all aspects of the subject or need concerned, and suggests a variety of the methods available for delivery of teaching and learning. As with any checklist, it also helps to reduce the risks of overlooking some vital aspects of the development required.

The more detailed elements within each domain provide additional reference points for learning design and evaluation, whether for a single lesson, session or activity, or training need, or for an entire course, programme or syllabus, across a large group of trainees or students, or a whole organisation.

And at its most complex, Bloom's Taxonomy is continuously evolving, through the work of academics following in the footsteps of Bloom's early associates, as a fundamental concept for the development of formalised education across the world.

As with so many of the classical models involving the development of people and organisations, you actually have a choice as to how to use Bloom's Taxonomy. It's a tool - or more aptly - a toolbox. Tools are most useful when the user controls them; not vice-versa.

Use Bloom's Taxonomy in the ways that you find helpful for your own situation.


Bloom taxonomy and educational objectives references and publications

Further information and detail relating to Bloom's Taxonomy follows, which includes theories developed by others, such as Hauenstein and Marzano, who demonstrate the ongoing extension of Bloom's Taxonomy concept:

Taxonomy of educational objectives: Handbook I, The cognitive domain. Bloom et al. 1956

Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals. Handbook II: The affective domain. Bloom, Krathwhol, Masia, 1964

Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals. B Bloom, 1965

The classification of educational objectives in the Psychomotor domain. EJ Simpson, 1972

Developing and writing educational objectives (Psychomotor levels pp. 33-34). RH Dave, 1970

A taxonomy of the psychomotor domain: A guide for developing behavioral objectives. AJ Harrow, 1972

A comprehensive framework for instructional objectives: A guide to systematic planning and evaluation. Hannah and Michaelis, 1977

A conceptual framework for educational objectives: A holistic approach to traditional taxonomies. AD Hauenstein, 1988

Bloom's Taxonomy: A Forty-Year Retrospective. Anderson & Sosniak, 1994

Benjamin Bloom 1913-99 . A paper by Prof. Elliot W Eisner, 2000. (UNESCO: International Bureau of Education.)

A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A revision of Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. Anderson, Krathwohl et al. 2001

Designing a new taxonomy of educational objectives, RJ Marzano, 2001


Referencing materials on this page

Your preferred referencing phraseology/protocol would determine how you combine the following into an appropriate attribution.

If you do not understand referencing then search Google for 'referencing'. Look at the different methods (eg, Harvard, Vancouver, etc) which are explained on various university websites, and if appropriate seek guidance from your tutor or course handbook/information.

Given the different originators of the various component models (tables) on this page, the precise data to include in the reference will depend on what content exactly you use.

Essentially the technical content (tables) should be credited according to the origination details given below each table.

Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning Domains is my own preferred way to describe the overall concept, but there are other over-arching headings used for the concept (usually beginning with Bloom's Taxonomy..), and you should feel free to use an alternative heading if you want to.

The presentation of the Bloom Taxonomy models on this webpage is probably best described as an interpretation or explanation of Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning Domains, December 2006. The retrieval date, webpage URL (address) and website name should also be included in the reference. The URL is The website is My name is Alan Chapman.

The free use of these materials is for teaching and study purposes and does not extend to publication in any form.

Allyn & Bacon, Boston USA, are publishers and copyright owners of 'Taxonomy Of Educational Objectives' (Bloom et al 1956), and seem to be the most significant point of contact for publishing permission of the Bloom Taxonomy tables, although their interests do not extend to all of the the precise interpretations or the explanatory/contextual materials on this page.

Related Materials

Where indicated Bloom's Taxonomy tables are adapted and reproduced with permission from Allyn & Bacon, Boston USA, being the publishers and copyright owners of 'Taxonomy Of Educational Objectives' (Bloom et al 1956).

© Benjamin Bloom's and others original concepts as stated in material; Alan Chapman contextual material, review, code, design 2006-2009.