Bloom's Taxonomy Questions

Question Stems to Help Apply Bloom's Taxonomy

What are the progression steps for learning?

That was the question answered in 1956 by  American educational psychologist Benjamin Samuel Bloom. In 1956, Bloom Taxonomy of educational objectives: the classification of educational goals, which outlined these steps. In this first volume, Bloom devised a way to categorize reasoning skills based on the amount of critical thinking and reasoning involved.

With Bloom's Taxonomy, there are six levels of skills ranked in order from the most basic to the most complex. Each level of skill is associated with a verb, as learning is an action.

As teachers, we should ensure that questions we ask both in class and on written assignments and tests are pulled from all levels of the taxonomy pyramid.

Objective assessments (multiple choice, matching, fill-in the blank)  tend to focus only on the two lowest levels of Bloom's Taxonomy: knowledge and comprehension. Subjective assessments (essay responses, experiments, portfolios, performances) tend to measure the higher levels of Bloom's Taxonomy: analysis, synthesis, evaluation).

The following list was created as an aid for teachers to incorporate into lessons. Different levels of Bloom's Taxonomy should be represented daily in a lesson, and those lessons at the end of a unit should incorporate the highest levels of the taxonomy.

Each category provides the verb, a question stem, and a series of  examples from across the disciplines for each level.

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Knowledge Verbs and Question Stems

New Bloom's Taxomony
Andrea Hernandez/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

The Knowledge level forms the base of the Bloom's Taxonomy pyramid. Because it is of the lowest complexity, many of the verbs are themselves question stems as can be seen with the list below.

  • What do you remember about _____?
  • How would you define_____?
  • How would you identify _____?
  • How would you recognize _____?

Teachers can use these level of questions to ensure that specific information was learned by the student from the lesson.

  • Define
    Example: Define mercantilism.
  • Who
    Example: Who was the author of Billy Budd.
  • What
    Example: What is the capital of England?
  • Name
    Example: Name the inventor of the telephone.
  • List
    Example: List the thirteen colonies.
  • Label
    Example: Label the capitals on this map of the United States.
  • Locate
    Example: Locate the glossary in your textbook.
  • Match
    Example: Match the following inventors with their inventions.
  • Select
    Example: Select the correct author of War and Peace from the following list.
  • Underline
    Example: Underline the noun.
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Comprehension Verbs and Question Stems

At the Comprehension level, we want students to show that they can go beyond basic recall by understanding what those facts mean.

  • How would you generalize_____?
  • How would you express _____?
  • What can you infer from _____?
  • What did you observe_____?

These verbs should allow teachers to see if students understand the main idea in order to Interpret or summarize the ideas in their own words.
Example question:

  • Explain
    Example: Explain the law of inertia using an example from an amusement park.
  • Interpret
    Example: Interpret the information found in this pie chart.
  • Outline
    Example: Outline the main arguments for and against year-round education.
  • Discuss
    Example: Discuss what it means to use context to determine the meaning of a word.
  • Translate
    Example: Translate this passage into English.
  • Restate
    Example: Restate the steps for a bill to become a law in your own words.
  • Describe
    Example: Describe what is happening in this Civil War picture.
  • Identify
    Example: Identify the correct method for disposing of recyclable trash.
  • Which
    Example: Which statements support implementing school uniforms.
  • Summarize
    Example: Summarize the first chapter of To Kill a Mockingbird.
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Application Verbs and Question Stems

At the Application level, students must show that they can apply the information that they have learned.

  • How would you demonstrate ____?
  • How would you present  ____?
  • How would you change  ____?
  • How would you modify ____?

Ways that they can do this include solving problems and creating projects.

  • Solve
    Example: Using the information you have learned about mixed numbers, solve the following questions.
  • Use
    Example: Use Newton's Laws of Motion to explain how a model rocket works.
  • Predict
    Example: Predict whether items float better in fresh water or salt water.
  • Construct
    Example: Using the information you have learned about aerodynamics, construct a paper airplane that minimizes drag.
  • Perform
    Example: Create and perform a skit which dramatizes an event from the Civil Rights era.
  • Demonstrate
    Example: Demonstrate how changing the location of the fulcrum affects a tabletop lever.
  • Classify
    Example: Classify each observed mineral based on the criteria learned in class.
  • Apply
    Example: Apply the rule of 70 to determine how quickly $1000 would double if earning 5% interest.
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Analysis Verbs and Question Stems

The fourth level of Bloom's Taxonomy is Analysis. Here students find patterns in what they learn.

  • How can you sort the parts _____?
  • What can you infer_____?
  • What ideas validate _____?
  • How would you explain _____?

Students move beyond simply understanding and applying knowledge. Instead, they begin to have a more active role in their own learning. Example question: Illustrate the difference between a moth and a butterfly.

  • What...?
    • Example: What is the function of the liver in the body.
    • Example: What is the main idea of the story "The Tell-Tale Heart."
    • Example: What assumptions do we have to make when discussing Einstein's Theory of Relativity?
  • Analyze
    Example: Analyze President Lincoln's motives for delivering the Gettysburg Address.
  • Identify
    Example: Identify any biases that might exist when reading an autobiography.
  • Examine
    Example: Examine the results of your experiment and record your conclusions.
  • Investigate
    Example: Investigate the propaganda techniques used in each of the following advertisements.
  • Identify
    Example: Identify the point of view of each of the main characters in Hamlet.
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Synthesis Verbs and Question Stems

At the synthesis level, students move beyond relying on previously learned information or analyzing items that the teacher is giving to them. 

  • What alternative would you suggest for ___?
  • What changes would you make to revise___? 
  •  How would you generate a plan to ___? 
  • What could you invent___?  

Instead, they move beyond what they have learned to create new products, ideas, and theories.

  • Create
    Example: Create a haiku about a desert animal.
  • Invent
    Example: Invent a new board game about Industrial Revolution inventors.
  • Compose
    Example: Compose a new piece of music that includes chords in the key of C Major.
  • Propose
    Example: Propose an alternative way to get students to clean up after themselves in the lunchroom.
  • Plan
    Example: Plan an alternative meal to serve vegetarians during Thanksgiving.
  • Design
    Example: Design a campaign to help stop teenage smoking.
  • Formulate
    Example: Formulate a bill that you would like to see passed through Congress.
  • Develop
    Example: Develop an idea for a science fair project that focuses on the effect of pollution on plant life.
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Evaluation Verbs and Question Stems

Evaluation means that students make judgments based on the information they have learned and their own insights.

  • What criteria would you use to assess _____?
  • What data was used to evaluate _____?
  • How could you verify _____?
  • What information would you use to prioritize _____?

This is often the hardest question to create, especially for an end-of-the-unit exam. Example question: Evaluate the accuracy of the Disney movie ​​Pocahontas.

  • Evaluate
    Example: Evaluate the accuracy of the movie The Patriot.
  • Find
    Find the errors in the following math problem.
  • Select
    Example: Select the most appropriate action that you should take against a school bully. Justify your answer.
  • Decide
    Example: Decide on a meal plan for the next week that includes all the required servings according to the Food Guide Pyramid.
  • Justify
    Example: Are the arts an important part of a school's curriculum? Justify your answer.
  • Debate
    Example: Debate the pros and cons of school vouchers.
  • Judge
    Example: Judge the importance of students reading a play by Shakespeare while in high school.