Asking Better Questions with Bloom's Taxonomy

Young Woman Sitting in Chairs
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Benjamin Bloom is known for developing the taxonomy of higher level thinking questions. The taxonomy provides categories of thinking skills that help educators formulate questions. The taxonomy begins with the lowest level thinking skill and moves to the highest level of thinking skill. The six thinking skills from lowest level to highest level are

  • Evaluation

To really understand what this means, let's take Goldilocks and the 3 Bears and apply Bloom's taxonomy.

Knowledge

Who was the biggest bear? What food was too hot?

Comprehension

Why didn't the bears eat the porridge?
Why did the bears leave their house?

Application

List the sequence of events in the story.
Draw 3 pictures showing the beginning, middle and ending of the story.

Analysis

Why do you think Goldilocks went for a sleep?
How would you feel if you were Baby Bear?
What kind of person do you think Goldilocks is and why?

Synthesis

How could you re-write this story with a city setting?
Write a set of rules to prevent what happened in the story.

Evaluation

Write a review for the story and specify the type of audience that would enjoy this book.
Why has this story been told over and over again throughout the years?
Act out a mock court case as though the bears are taking Goldilocks to court.

Bloom's taxonomy helps you to ask questions that make learners think.

Always remember that higher level thinking occurs with higher level questioning. Here are the types of activities to support each of the categories in Bloom's Taxonomy:

Knowledge

  • Label
  • List
  • Name
  • State
  • Outline
  • Define
  • Locate
  • Repeat
  • Identify
  • Recite

Comprehension

  • Discuss
  • Explain
  • Provide proof of
  • Provide an outline
  • Diagram
  • Make a poster
  • Make a collage
  • Make a cartoon strip
  • Answer who, what, when, where, why questions

Application

  • Report
  • Construct
  • Solve
  • Illustrate
  • Construct
  • Design

Analysis

  • Sort
  • Analyze
  • Investigate
  • Classify
  • Survey
  • Debate
  • Graph
  • Compare

Synthesis

  • Invent
  • Examine
  • Design
  • Formulate
  • Hypothesize
  • Re-tell differently
  • Report
  • Develop a game
  • Song
  • Experiment
  • Generate
  • Compose

Evaluation

  • Solve
  • Justify
  • Self-evaluate
  • Conclude
  • Do an editorial
  • Weight the pros/cons
  • Mock trial
  • Group discussion
  • Justify
  • Judge
  • Criticize
  • Appraise
  • Judge
  • Recommendation backed with informed opinions
  • Why do you think....

The more you move toward higher level questioning techniques, the easier it gets. Remind yourself to ask open ended questions, ask questions that stimulate 'why do you think' type answers. The goal is to get them thinking. "What color hat was he wearing?" is a low-level thinking question, "Why do you think he wore that color?" is better. Always look to questioning and activities that make learners think. Bloom's taxonomy provides an excellent framework to help with this.