The Evolution of Bloom's Taxonomy

Original Taxonomy (1956)

The original taxonomy was published in 1956 in Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. It focused on three domains: Cognitive (knowledge-based), Affective (emotion-based), and Psychomotor (action-based).


This list has been the primary focus of most traditional education and is frequently used to structure curriculum learning objectives, assessments and activities. In the original (1956) version, the cognitive domain was broken into six levels: Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis and Evaluation.  The categories after Knowledge were presented as “skills and abilities,” with the understanding that knowledge was the necessary precondition for putting these skills and abilities into practice. (In 2001, a revised edition of the Taxonomy was created where the levels were revised as: Remember, Understand, Apply, Analyze, Evaluate, and Create. This is covered later in this module.)

cognitive domain

The 6 cognitive levels as outlined in the original taxonomy are:

  1. Knowledge: Knowledge involves recognizing or remembering facts, terms, basic concepts, or answers without necessarily understanding what they mean. Its characteristics may include Knowledge of specifics—terminology, specific facts, Knowledge of ways and means of dealing with specifics—conventions, trends and sequences, classifications and categories, Knowledge of the universals and abstractions in a field—principles and generalizations, theories and structures. Example: Name three varieties of apples.
  2. Comprehension: Comprehension involves demonstrating an understanding of facts and ideas by organizing, summarizing, translating, generalizing, giving descriptions, and stating the main ideas. Example: Summarize the identifying characteristics of a Golden Delicious apple and a Granny Smith apple.
  3. Application: Application involves using acquired knowledge—solving problems in new situations by applying acquired knowledge, facts, techniques and rules. Learners should be able to use prior knowledge to solve problems, identify connections and relationships and how they apply in new situations. Example: Would apples prevent scurvy, a disease caused by a deficiency in vitamin C?
  4. Analysis: Analysis involves examining and breaking information into component parts, determining how the parts relate to one another, identifying motives or causes, making inferences, and finding evidence to support generalizations. Its characteristics include: Analysis of elements, Analysis of relationships and Analysis of organization. Example: Compare and contrast four ways of serving foods made with apples and examine which ones have the highest health benefits
  5. Synthesis: Synthesis involves building a structure or pattern from diverse elements; it also refers to the act of putting parts together to form a whole. Its characteristics include: Production of a unique communication, Production of a plan, or proposed set of operations, and Derivation of a set of abstract relations. Example: Convert an "unhealthy" recipe for apple pie to a "healthy" recipe by replacing your choice of ingredients. Argue for the health benefits of using the ingredients you chose versus the original ones.
  6. Evaluation: Evaluation involves presenting and defending opinions by making judgments about information, the validity of ideas, or quality of work based on a set of criteria. Its characteristics include: Judgments in terms of internal evidence, and Judgments in terms of external criteria. Example: Which kinds of apples are best for baking a pie, and why?


Skills in the affective domain describe the way people react emotionally and their ability to feel other living things' pain or joy. Affective objectives typically target the awareness and growth in attitudes, emotions, and feelings.

affective domain

There are five levels in the affective domain moving through the lowest-order processes to the highest.

  1. Receiving: The lowest level; the student passively pays attention. Without this level, no learning can occur. Receiving is about the student's memory and recognition as well.
  2. Responding: The student actively participates in the learning process, not only attends to a stimulus; the student also reacts in some way.
  3. Valuing: The student attaches a value to an object, phenomenon, or piece of information. The student associates a value or some values to the knowledge they acquired.
  4. Organizing: The student can put together different values, information, and ideas, and can accommodate them within his/her own schema; the student is comparing, relating, and elaborating on what has been learned.
  5. Characterizing: The student at this level tries to build abstract knowledge.


The psychomotor domain describes the ability to physically manipulate a tool or instrument like a hand or a hammer. Psychomotor objectives usually focus on change and/or development in behavior and/or skills. This domain was not broken down into subcategories for skills in the original taxonomy.

Image credits: By Corydave - Own work, CC0