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There are three main domains of learning and all teachers should know about them and use

to construct lessons. These domains are cognitive (thinking), affective (emotion/feeling), and
psychomotor (physical/kinesthetic). Each domain on this page has a taxonomy associated with it.
Taxonomy is simply a word for a classification. All of the taxonomies below are arranged so that they
proceed from the simplest to more complex levels. The ones discussed here are usually attributed to
their primary author, even though the actual development may have had many authors in its formal,

complete citation.

Benjamin Bloom (Cognitive Domain),

David Krathwohl (Affective Domain), and

Anita Harrow (Psychomotor Domain).

It is interesting to note that even though the taxonomy associated with cognition is commonly referred
to as Blooms Taxonomy, David Krathwohl was also one of the original authors in creating this work.
This will become important when you look at the 2001 revisions to this taxonomy.
Many veteran teachers are unaware that the cognitive/thinking domain had major revisions in
2000/01. Again commonly known as Blooms Taxonomy, the domain of cognition was originally
described and published in 1956. While I have included the original one, I have also attached it to the
newly revised version so that users can see the differences. The newer version of Blooms
Taxonomyof Learning has a number of added features that can be very useful to educators as they
try to construct optimal learning experiences.
Additionally, when possible, teachers should attempt to construct more holistic lessons by using all
3 domains in learning tasks. This diversity helps to create more well-rounded learning experiences
and meets a number of learning styles and learning modalities. Using more diversity in delivering
lessons also helps students create more neural networks and pathways thus aiding recall.
The Original Cognitive or Thinking Domain
Based on the 1956 work, The Handbook I-Cognitive Domain, behavioral objectives were divided into
subsets. These subsets were arranged into a taxonomy and listed according to the cognitive difficulty

simpler to more complex forms. In 2000-01 revisions to this taxonomy were spearheaded by one
of Blooms former students, Lorin Anderson, and one of his original partners in defining the cognitive
domain, David Krathwohl. Please see my page entitled Anderson and Krathwohl Blooms
Taxonomy Revised for further details.
Remember while it is good to understand the history of the older version of the domain, the newer
version has a number of strong advantages that make it a better choice for planning instruction today.
One of the major changes that occurred between the old and the newer updated version is that the
two highest forms of cognition have been reversed. In the older version the listing from simple to
most complex functions was ordered as knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis,
and evaluation. In the newer version the steps change to verbs and are arranged as knowing,
understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and last, creating.
Additional Resources: A wonderfully succinct and comprehensive overview of both taxonomies is
provided by Mary Forehand at the University of Georgia in a Wikipedia type format, see Blooms
taxonomy. Plus, there are many different types of graphics cleverly depicting the new versions that
can be printed and readily used as everyday references during instructional planning. In a search
engine like Google enter revised Blooms taxonomy and view the images portion of the search to
find many different types of colorful and useful graphics on this topic.
Taxonomies of the Cognitive Domain
Blooms Taxonomy 1956

Anderson and Krathwohls Taxonomy 2001

1. Knowledge: Remembering or retrieving previously

learned material. Examples of verbs that relate to this function

1. Remembering: Recognizing or recalling knowledge

from memory. Remembering is when memory is used to
produce or retrieve definitions, facts, or lists, or to recite
previously learned information.

know identify
relate list

define recall

record name

2. Comprehension: The ability to grasp or construct meaning

from material. Examples of verbs that relate to this function

2. Understanding: Constructing meaning from

different types of functions be they written or graphic
messages, or activities like interpreting, exemplifying,
classifying, summarizing, inferring, comparing, or

restate locate
report recognize
explain express

identify discuss
describe discuss
review infer

interpret draw

3. Application: The ability to use learned material, or to

implement material in new and concrete situations. Examples
of verbs that relate to this function are:
apply relate
translate use

organize employ

calculate show

4. Analysis: The ability to break down or distinguish the parts

of material into its components so that its organizational
structure may be better understood.Examples of verbs that
relate to this function are:
analyze compare
probe inquire
examine contrast

detect survey
classify deduce

discover inspect

5. Synthesis: The ability to put parts together to form a

coherent or unique new whole. Examples of verbs that relate
to this function are:
produce design
assemble create
prepare predict
modify tell

plan invent
formulate collect
set up generalize
combine relate

propose develop
arrange construct
originate derive
write propose

6. Evaluation: The ability to judge, check, and even critique

3. Applying: Carrying out or using a procedure through

executing, or implementing. Applying relates to or refers
to situations where learned material is used through
products like models, presentations, interviews or

4. Analyzing: Breaking materials or concepts into parts,

determining how the parts relate to one another or how
they interrelate, or how the parts relate to an overall
structure or purpose. Mental actions included in this
function are differentiating, organizing, and
attributing, as well as being able to distinguish
betweenthe components or parts. When one is analyzing,
he/she can illustrate this mental function by creating
spreadsheets, surveys, charts, or diagrams, or graphic

5. Evaluating: Making judgments based on criteria and

standards through checking and critiquing. Critiques,
recommendations, and reports are some of the products
that can be created to demonstrate the processes of
evaluation. In the newer taxonomy,evaluating comes
before creating as it is often a necessary part of the
precursory behavior before one creates something.

6. Creating: Putting elements together to form a

the value of material for a given purpose. Examples of verbs

that relate to this function are:
judge assess
measure deduce

argue decide
choose rate
select estimate

validate consider
appraise value
criticize infer

coherent or functional whole; reorganizing elements into

a new pattern or structure through generating, planning,
or producing. Creating requires users to put parts
together in a new way, or synthesize parts into something
new and different thus creating a new form or product.
This process is the most difficult mental function in the
new taxonomy.

Table 1.1 (Wilson, L.O. 2001) Bloom vs. Anderson/Krathwohl revisions

The Affective or Feeling Domain:

Like cognitive objectives, affective objectives can also be divided into a hierarchy (according to
Krathwohl). This area is concerned with feelings or emotions. Again, the taxonomy is arranged from
simpler feelings to those that are more complex.
1. Receiving
This refers to the learners sensitivity to the existence of stimuli awareness, willingness to receive,
or selected attention.

feel sense capture

pursue attend



2. Responding
This refers to the learners active attention to stimuli and his/her motivation to learn acquiescence,
willing responses, or feelings of satisfaction.

conform allow

contribute enjoy



3. Valuing

This refers to the learners beliefs and attitudes of worth acceptance, preference, or commitment.
An acceptance, preference, or commitment to a value.

believe seek justify

respect search persuade

4. Organization
This refers to the learners internalization of values and beliefs involving (1) the conceptualization of
values; and (2) the organization of a value system. As values or beliefs become internalized, the
leaner organizes them according to priority.

examine clarify systematize

create integrate

5. Characterization the Internalization of values

This refers to the learners highest of internalization and relates to behavior that reflects (1) a
generalized set of values; and (2) a characterization or a philosophy about life. At this level the
learner is capable of practicing and acting on their values or beliefs.

internalize review conclude

resolve judge

Based on:
Krathwohl, D.R., Bloom,B.S. and Masia, B. B. (1964).Taxonomy of educational objectives, Book II.
Affective domain. New York, NY. David McKay Company, Inc.
Note: As with all of the taxonomies, in labeling objectives using this domain there has to be a very
clear instructional intention for growth in this area specified in the learning objective(s). Folks
in the sciences and in math often avoid including affective objectives stating that their areas are not
emotional. However, any group work or cooperative exercise where deportment, or collaborative or
cooperative skills are discussed, used, and emphasized qualifies as having the potential for affective
growth. Additionally, if students are asked to challenge themselves with independently taking risks to

develop and present a hypothesis and/or persuade others on drawn conclusions, or actively take an
intellectual risk whereby they increase in self-confidence, these types of exercises also have the
potential to be affective as well as a cognitive. Also, in areas of potential debate, where data allows
students to draw conclusions about controversial topics or express opinions and feelings on those
topics, this too can be tweaked so there is intentional affective growth. Since emotion draws both
attention and channels strong residual memory, it behooves all dedicated and artful educators to
include affective objectives, no matter what their discipline or area of study.

The Psychomotor or Kinesthetic Domain

Psychomotor objectives are those specific to discreet physical functions, reflex actions and
interpretive movements. Traditionally, these types of objectives are concerned with the physically
encoding of information, with movement and/or with activities where the gross and fine muscles are
used for expressing or interpreting information or concepts. This area also refers to natural,
autonomic responses or reflexes.
As stated earlier, to avoid confusion, if the activity is simply something that is physical which supports
another area affective or cognitive term the objective physical rather than psychomotor. Again,
this goes to instructional intent. A primary example of something physical which supports specific
cognitive development and skills might be looking through a microscope, and then identifying and
drawing cells. Here the instructional intent of this common scientific activity is not to develop specific
skilled proficiency in microscope viewing or in reproducing cells through drawing. Usually the key
intent in this activity is that a physical action supports or is a vehicle for cognitive growth and
furthering recognition skills. The learner is using the physical action to achieve the cognitive
objectives identify, recognize, and differentiate varied types of cells.
If you are using a physical activity to support a cognitive or affective function, simply label it as
something physical (labeling the objective as kinesthetic, haptic, or tactile is also acceptable) and
avoid the term psychomotor. Rather labeling something psychomotor means there is a very clear
educational intention for growth to occur in the psychomotor domain.
Certainly more complex learning objectives can be written so that they that meld 2 or 3 domains. For
instance, students can gain appreciation (an affective objective) for the culture or country of origin
through conducting investigations or listening to stories while learning the dances from other
countries. Learning dance steps would fall under skilled movements in the psychomotor domain.

(Terms in this area based on Anita Harrows taxonomy).

Reflex movements
Objectives at this level include reflexes that involve one segmental or reflexes of the spine and
movements that may involve more than one segmented portion of the spine as intersegmental
reflexes (e.g., involuntary muscle contraction). These movements are involuntary being either present
at birth or emerging through maturation.
Fundamental movements
Objectives in this area refer to skills or movements or behaviors related to walking, running, jumping,
pushing, pulling and manipulating. They are often components for more complex actions.
Perceptual abilities
Objectives in this area should address skills related to kinesthetic (bodily movements), visual,
auditory, tactile (touch), or coordination abilities as they are related to the ability to take in information
from the environment and react.
Physical abilities
Objectives in this area should be related to endurance, flexibility, agility, strength, reaction-response
time or dexterity.
Skilled movements
Objectives in this area refer to skills and movements that must be learned for games, sports, dances,
performances, or for the arts.
Nondiscursive communication
Objectives in this area refer to expressive movements through posture, gestures, facial expressions,
and/or creative movements like those in mime or ballet. These movements refer to interpretative
movements that communicate meaning without the aid of verbal commands or help.

Note: As we learn more about how the brain learns and retains information, todays educators are
realizing that targeted physical movement has the potential to enhance memory and recall and can
aid in accelerating longterm memory. Intentionally adding movement to enhance learning is often
called embodied learning. With the aid of technology this field is growing rapidly.
Additional resources:
1. The Waag Society
2. SmallLAB Learning
3. Why Embodied Learning?

**Remember that the trick in effectively planning lessons there has to be the intention for growth
specifically in the selected domain area! Learning takes place in ALL 3 domains and wise teachers
combine domains so that lessons and learning are more holistic and multidimensional.
The following page and PPT AGO2 illustrate how you can use all three domains to create more
holistic learning experiences.
A PDF Copy of this file: Three domains of learning Beyond personal usage, please read usage
policies @ about-and-usage-polices

The Three Domains of Learning

The committee identified three domains of educational activities or learning (Bloom, et al.

Cognitive: mental skills (knowledge)

Affective: growth in feelings or emotional areas (attitude or self)

Psychomotor: manual or physical skills (skills)

Since the work was produced by higher education, the words tend to be a little bigger than
we normally use. Domains may be thought of as categories. Instructional designers,

trainers, and educators often refer to these three categories as KSA

(Knowledge [cognitive], Skills [psychomotor], and Attitudes [affective]). This taxonomy of
learning behaviors may be thought of as the goals of the learning process. That is, after a
learning episode, the learner should have acquired a new skill, knowledge, and/or attitude.
While the committee produced an elaborate compilation for the cognitive and affective
domains, they omitted the psychomotor domain. Their explanation for this oversight was that
they have little experience in teaching manual skills within the college level. However, there
have been at least three psychomotor models created by other researchers.
Their compilation divides the three domains into subdivisions, starting from the simplest
cognitive process or behavior to the most complex. The divisions outlined are not absolutes
and there are other systems or hierarchies that have been devised, such as the Structure of
Observed Learning Outcome (SOLO). However, Bloom's taxonomy is easily understood and
is probably the most widely applied one in use today.
Cognitive Domain
The cognitive domain involves knowledge and the development of intellectual skills (Bloom,
1956). This includes the recall or recognition of specific facts, procedural patterns, and
concepts that serve in the development of intellectual abilities and skills. There are six
major categories of cognitive an processes,
starting from the simplest to the most complex
(see the table below for an in-depth coverage of
each category):
o Knowledge
o Comprehension
o Application
o Analysis
o Synthesis
o Evaluation
The categories can be thought of as degrees of difficulties. That is, the first ones must
normally be mastered before the next one can take place.

B l o o m ' s R e v i s e d Ta x o n o m y
Lorin Anderson, a former student of Bloom, and David Krathwohl revisited the cognitive
domain in the mid-nineties and made some changes, with perhaps the three most prominent
ones being (Anderson, Krathwohl, Airasian, Cruikshank, Mayer, Pintrich, Raths, Wittrock,
o changing the names in the six categories from noun to verb forms
o rearranging them as shown in the chart below
o creating a processes and levels of knowledge matrix
The chart shown below compares the original taxonomy with the revised one:

This new taxonomy reflects a more active form of thinking and is perhaps more accurate.
The new version of Bloom's Taxonomy, with
examples and keywords is shown below, while the
old version may be found here
Ta b l e o f t h e R e v i s e d C o g n i t i v e

Examples, key words

(verbs), and technologies for
learning (activities)

Examples: Recite a policy.

Quote prices from memory
to a customer. Recite the
safety rules.
Key Words: defines,

describes, identifies,

Recall or retrieve

knows, labels, lists,

previous learned

matches, names, outlines,


recalls, recognizes,
reproduces, selects, states
Technologies: book
marking, flash cards, rote
learning based on
repetition, reading


Examples: Rewrite the


principles of test writing.

the meaning,

Explain in one's own words


the steps for performing a

interpolation, and

complex task. Translate an

interpretation of

equation into a computer

instructions and


problems. State a
Key Words: comprehends,

converts, defends, distinguishes, estimates,

explains, extends, generalizes, gives an example,
infers, interprets, paraphrases, predicts, rewrites,
problem in one's own words.

summarizes, translates
Technologies: create an analogy, participating
incooperative learning , taking notes, storytelling,
Internet search

Examples: Use a manual to calculate an employee's

vacation time. Apply laws of statistics to evaluate the
reliability of a written test.
Applying: Use a concept in a new
situation or unprompted use of an

Key Words: applies, changes, computes,

abstraction. Applies what was

constructs, demonstrates, discovers, manipulates,

learned in the classroom into novel

modifies, operates, predicts, prepares, produces,

situations in the work place.

relates, shows, solves, uses

Technologies: collaborative learning , create a
process, blog, practice

Examples: Troubleshoot a piece of equipment by

using logical deduction. Recognize logical fallacies
in reasoning. Gathers information from a department
Analyzing: Separates material or
concepts into component parts so
that its organizational structure
may be understood. Distinguishes
between facts and inferences.

and selects the required tasks for training.

Key Words: analyzes, breaks down, compares,
contrasts, diagrams, deconstructs, differentiates,
discriminates, distinguishes, identifies, illustrates,
infers, outlines, relates, selects, separates
Technologies: Fishbowls , debating, questioning
what happened, run a test

Evaluating: Make judgments about

Examples: Select the most effective solution. Hire

the value of ideas or materials.

the most qualified candidate. Explain and justify a

new budget.

Key Words: appraises, compares, concludes,

contrasts, criticizes, critiques, defends, describes,
discriminates, evaluates, explains, interprets,
justifies, relates, summarizes, supports
Technologies: survey, blogging

Examples: Write a company operations or process

manual. Design a machine to perform a specific
task. Integrates training from several sources to
solve a problem. Revises and process to improve
Creating: Builds a structure or
pattern from diverse elements. Put
parts together to form a whole,
with emphasis on creating a new
meaning or structure.

the outcome.
Key Words: categorizes, combines, compiles,
composes, creates, devises, designs, explains,
generates, modifies, organizes, plans, rearranges,
reconstructs, relates, reorganizes, revises, rewrites,
summarizes, tells, writes
Technologies: Create a new model, write an essay,
network with others

Cognitive Processes and Levels of Knowledge Matrix

Bloom's Revised Taxonomy not only improved the usability of it by using action words, but
added a cognitive and knowledge matrix.
While Bloom's original cognitive taxonomy did mention three levels of knowledge or
products that could be processed, they were not discussed very much and remained onedimensional:
o Factual - The basic elements students must know to be acquainted with a
discipline or solve problems.
o Conceptual The interrelationships among the basic elements within a larger
structure that enable them to function together.

o Procedural - How to do something, methods of inquiry, and criteria for using

skills, algorithms, techniques, and methods.
In Krathwohl and Anderson's revised version, the authors combine the cognitive processes
with the above three levels of knowledge to form a matrix. In addition, they added another
level of knowledge - metacognition:
o Metacognitive Knowledge of cognition in general, as well as awareness and
knowledge of ones own cognition.
When the cognitive and knowledge dimensions are arranged in a matrix, as shown below, it
makes a nice performance aid for creating performance objectives:
The Cognitive Dimension

The Knowledge



Appl Analyz Evaluat Creat


However, others have identified five contents or artifacts (Clark, Chopeta, 2004; Clark,
Mayer, 2007):
o Facts - Specific and unique data or instance.
o Concepts - A class of items, words, or ideas that are known by a common name,
includes multiple specific examples, shares common features. There are two types
of concepts: concrete and abstract.
o Processes - A flow of events or activities that describe how things work rather
than how to do things. There are normally two types: business processes that
describe work flows and technical processes that describe how things work in
equipment or nature. They may be thought of as the big picture, of how something

o Procedures - A series of step-by-step actions and decisions that result in the

achievement of a task. There are two types of actions: linear and branched.
o Principles - Guidelines, rules, and parameters that govern. It includes not only
what should be done, but also what should not be done. Principles allow one to
make predictions and draw implications. Given an effect, one can infer the cause of
a phenomena. Principles are the basic building blocks of causal models or
theoretical models (theories).
Thus, the new matrix would look similar to this:
The Cognitive Dimension

The Knowledge



Appl Analyz Evaluat Creat


An example matrix that has been filled in might look something like this:
The Knowledge

Under-stand Apply





classify outline







criticize modify





defend design


critique plan


reproduc give an











predict actualize