Using Bloom’s Taxonomy To Build A Solid Foundation For Business Learning
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Bloom’s Taxonomy: How You Can Use It To Build A Solid Foundation For Business Learning

Understanding the level of learning that is required for a business objective allows a trainer to plan for success. Every time new training is required, you must start at the base of Bloom’s Taxonomy pyramid and build a solid foundation before climbing to the next level. Benjamin Bloom created his Taxonomy during the 1950s as a way to categorize the levels of reasoning skills required in classroom situations. There are 6 levels in the taxonomy, each requiring a higher level of abstraction from the students [1]. Bloom’s levels have changed slightly to the following [2]: so there is a new vs. old Bloom's pyramids comparison available that can greatly help you distinguish between the two.

Vast amounts of research have been conducted in classroom settings focused on using Bloom’s Taxonomy to analyze the steps required to push students to higher order thinking skills [3]. That research can be applied to business trainings to maximize the benefits of said training.

When creating learning for adults, knowing what level of reasoning skills are required to meet the stated objective allows training to be created that works its way up the pyramid. Depending on current skills, this move up can happen very quickly or you may need to take time to create a more solid foundation [4]. Understand that if you need your learner to create a new product, the time needed in the classroom and the time needed for follow up activities is going to be substantially higher than for individual tasks in a vacuum. Because Bloom’s Taxonomy is built on continually more difficult cognitive processes, skipping one or several levels will set the learner and the trainer up for failure instead of success. Gauge each objective for each level of learning you are creating.

Examples

What level of learning would your learner be on if they needed to put the different steps in order for a new system?

  • Remembering
    They would need to understand the flow of information from each step to the next and how one piece of information passed data to another part.

What level of learning would you be on if you need someone to utilize a new scheduling system to schedule pilots?

  • Applying
    They would need to remember how information flows from each step in the process to another, understand how different parts of the system affect each other, and then how to utilize the components of the system to schedule the staff available.

If you skip the 'remembering' and 'understanding' step, it would be next to impossible for a scheduler to adequately apply their knowledge at the Applying level.

The learning objective should be broken down into different levels of learning that need to be developed. You will not do the same in-class activities for a Remembering objective as you would for an Evaluating activity.

Use of the taxonomy encourages trainers to think of learning objectives in behavioral terms to consider what the learner can do or needs to be able to do because of the instruction [5]. A learning objective written using action verbs will indicate the best method of assessing the skills and knowledge taught. Considering learning goals in light of Bloom’s Taxonomy highlights the need to include learning objectives that require higher levels of cognitive skills. This will, in turn, lead to deeper learning and transfer of knowledge and skills to a greater variety of tasks and contexts [3].

When you search for Bloom’s verbs on the internet, there are thousands of examples, and they are just to help you start brainstorming. Use them to help you, not limit you. Try the objective on with some of the verbs, you will find that it will logically fit somewhere.

In this model, each of the colored blocks shows an example of a learning objective that corresponds with each of the various combinations of the cognitive process and knowledge dimensions. This allows a trainer to identify the verb, which corresponds to an action, and the noun, which corresponds to the knowledge, that the learner needs to come out of the training with. Identify something you need to teach and walk it up the pyramid to see how the complexity increases as you move into higher order thinking skills [6]. This model clearly allows you to see why it is important to build up learning instead of starting in the middle of the pyramid.

Good luck in establishing clear, measurable objectives for your next training that start at the base of the pyramid and work their way up to where you need your learners to be. Your verbs will translate into actionable activities for your learners and you can create in class and follow up activities that correlate to defined business objectives.

References:

[1] Bloom, B. S. (ed.). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. Vol. 1: Cognitive Domain. New York: McKay, 1956.

[2] Richard C. Overbaugh Lynn Schultz Old Dominion University, Bloom’s Taxonomy, https://www.odu.edu/content/dam/odu/col-dept/teaching-learning/docs/blooms-taxonomy-handout.pdf

[3] J Med Libr Assoc. 2015 Jul; 103(3): 152–153. doi: 10.3163/1536-5050.103.3.010 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4511057/

[4] Overbaugh, R., and Schultz, L. (n.d.). “Image of two versions of Bloom’s Taxonomy.” Norfolk, VA: Old Dominion University. Retrieved from https://www.odu.edu/content/dam/odu/col-dept/teaching-learning/docs/blooms-taxonomy-handout.pdf

[5] Richard C. Overbaugh Lynn Schultz Old Dominion University, Bloom’s Taxonomy, https://www.odu.edu/content/dam/odu/col-dept/teaching-learning/docs/blooms-taxonomy-handout.pdf

[6] The Learning Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill produced under a creative commons license

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