American educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom created a way to categorize reasoning skills with his Bloom's Taxonomy. According to the taxonomy, there are six levels of reasoning skills ranked in order from simplest to most complex. It is very easy to write assessments and frame classroom questions on the lowest two levels of the taxonomy: Knowledge and Comprehension. However, as educators we must try to include higher level questions in our lessons and on our tests. The following lists of Bloom's Taxonomy verbs
provide teachers with numerous verbs at each of the levels to help them as they write questions for their students.
It is important to note that many verbs can be used at more than one level of the taxonomy. The difference would be in the wording of the question. Following is an example using the verb "identify."
- (Knowledge) Identify who wrote The Scarlet Letter.
- (Comprehension) Identify the main idea of The Tell-Tale Heart.
In the first, the student simply has to show knowledge. The second question, however, shows that they comprehend what the story is about.
In addition to the following verbs, you can also access a great list of Bloom's Taxonomy Questions to help you as you create assignments and tests.
The Knowledge level forms the base of the Bloom's Taxonomy pyramid. On this level, teachers are attempting to tell whether students have gained specific knowledge from the lesson being taught. Therefore, these verbs attempt to have the students show that they have learned this specific information. An example of a question from this level might be, Who wrote "All Quiet on the Western Front
The second level of the pyramid is Comprehension. On this level, teachers want students to show that they not only remember specific facts but they understand what those facts mean. Example question: Explain the law of inertia
using an example from the real world.
With Application questions, students have to not only show they have learned and understand the material, but that they can apply this information to solving other problems. Example question: Create a model of a medieval castle
showing each of the parts learned about in class.
The analysis level of the pyramid has students finding patterns in the information they are learning. Students are becoming more active in their own learning at this stage. Example question: Illustrate the difference between a moth and a butterfly.
With Synthesis, students are expected to make predictions. No longer are they simply relying on information learned or analyzing information presented to them. Instead, they must take what they have learned and create new theories based on that information. Example question: Create a haiku
about one of the seasons.
The highest level of Bloom's Pyramid is Evalution. At this level, teachers want their students to make judgements using all the information they have gained and their own insights of the material learned. A great example of this is when students have to show bias for primary source documents on exams such as the AP American History
test. Example question: Evaluate the accuracy of the Disney movie Pocahontas