Benjamin Bloom (21 February, 1913 - September 13, 1999) was an American educational psychologist who made significant contributions to the classification of educational objectives and the theory of mastery learning.
Benjamin Bloom worked as an educational professor, a researcher, an editor, and an examiner throughout his career. His main contributions to the area of education involved mastery learning, his model of talent development, and Bloom's Taxonomy (or Levels of Critical Thinking.)
He focused much of his time on the study of educational objectives and ultimately proposed that any task stimulates one of the three psychological domains: cognitive, affective, or psychomotor. The cognitive domain deals with the knowledge and understanding of concepts or ideas. The affective domain is concerned with the attitudes and feelings that result from the learning process. Lastly, the psychomotor domain involves manipulative or physical skills.
Benjamin Bloom worked for the University of Chicago’s Board of Examinations from 1944 into the 1960's. He did work at different times for other places but he always had an office at the University of Chicago. The board was responsible for administering comprehensive exams to students. At first the comprehensive exams were focused only on factual recall of information. As time went on, the exams began to reflect a paradigm change in education. The exams began to focus on how students reason and solve problems instead of just factual recall. The years that Bloom worked for the University of Chicago’s Board of Examinations affected the way he perceived the purpose of education. The development of his educational taxonomy really began with his work for the Board of Examinations In 1956 Benjamin Bloom headed a group of psychologists at the University of Chicago who developed a hierarchy of intellectual behavior important to learning and mastering a concept. This became known as Bloom’s Taxonomy which is still an integral part of educational objectives today.
His classification of educational objectives, known as Bloom's Taxonomy, incorporates cognitive, psychomotor, and affective domains of knowledge. While working at the University of Chicago in the 1950s and '60s, he wrote two important books, Stability and Change in Human Characteristics and Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (1956). Bloom’s taxonomy provides structure in which to categorize test questions. This taxonomy helps teachers pose questions in such a way to determine the level of understanding that a student possesses. For example, based upon the type of question asked, a teacher can determine that a student is competent in content knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and/or evaluation. This taxonomy is organized in a hierarchal way to organize information from basic factual recall to higher order thinking. This data table below is from the article written by W. Huitt titled, “Bloom et al.'s Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain”. The table below describes the levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, beginning with the lowest level of basic factual recall. Each level in the table is defined, gives descriptive verbs that would foster each level of learning, and describes sample behaviors of that level. Bloom’s taxonomy helps teachers better prepare questions that would foster basic knowledge recall all the way to questioning styles that foster synthesis and evaluation. By structuring the questioning format, teachers will be able to better understand what a child’s weaknesses and strengths are and determine ways to help students think at a higher-level.
Bloom, Benjamin S. (1980). All Our Children Learning. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Benjamin S. Bloom, Taxonomy of educational objectives. Published by Allyn and Bacon, Boston, MA. Copyright (c) 1984 by Pearson Education.
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