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This is the first in a short series of posts related to understanding, comparing, and using Bloom's Taxonomy and Webb's Depth of Knowledge.  Ultimately the posts will be collected and posted as a single resource collection document on the SABES PD Center for ELA website.

Why this? Why now?
As Tom Mechem mentioned in his December webinars, Massachusetts ABE students who want to earn a High School Equivalency Diploma now have the option to take either the HiSET or the GED.  Previous editions of both tests incorporated Bloom’s Taxonomy; the current editions now reference Webb’s Depth of Knowledge (DOK).

  • The “GED Testing Service is using Webb’s DOK model to guide item development for the current GED test, in the same manner as Bloom’s Taxonomy of learning objectives was used to guide development of previous test editions.” (Assessment Guide for Educators, Chapter 2: “Webb’s Depth of Knowledge Model”)

Aside from these high-stakes tests, Webb’s and Bloom’s are useful for planning learning objectives, assessments, and thinking about what types of questions and prompts to ask in class.

You have likely heard of Bloom's Taxonomy, which has been used in K–12 education for decades.  According to Dr. Benjamin Bloom, who chaired the series of committees that created the taxonomy in the 1950s, "The idea for this classification system was formed at an informal meeting of college examiners attending the 1948 American Psychological Association Convention in Boston. At this meeting, interest was expressed in a theoretical framework which could be used to facilitate communication among examiners.” (Bloom et al, Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals, p.4)

Bloom’s Taxonomy has three domains:

  1. Cognitive (knowledge)
  2. Affective (emotion)
  3. Psychomotor (action)

K–12 educators have focused on the cognitive domain’s six levels of thinking and the associated actions that students would take to use and show that thinking.  Based on the 2001 revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy, those six levels are as follows:

  1. Remember
  2. Understand
  3. Apply
  4. Analyze
  5. Evaluate
  6. Create

Even though the high-stakes tests are aligned to Webb’s DOK, Bloom’s is still useful for planning and creating learning objectives.

See this excellent explanation of Bloom's Taxonomy, with a downloadable PDF and links to a Flash version and  other resources, from Iowa State University's Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching.  Wikipedia’s entry on Bloom’s Taxonomy is also fairly thorough.

Future posts will be about Webb’s Depth of Knowledge, comparing and using Webb's and Bloom's, and some cautions to be aware of. Stay tuned!

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