Educational Taxonomies with examples, example questions and example activities

Contents Overview


This page includes taxonomies for three domains: cognitive domain, affective domain, and psychomotor domain. Each also includes a definition, multiple descriptions, sample activities, and verbs to use to create goals, objectives, outcomes.

A Toothpick pattern activity is included as an activity to identify different the levels of different cognitive actions, tasks, or behaviors.

Additional reference:

Revised Bloom's Taxonomy at Iowa State University

Cognitive domain - Bloom's Taxonomy

1. Knowledge is defined as the remembering of previously learned material. This may involve the recall of a wide range of materials, from specific facts to complete theories, but all that is required is the bringing to mind of the appropriate information. Knowledge represents the lowest level of learning outcomes in the cognitive domain.

Description (to know to recall):

  • Remembering previously learned material
  • Lowest level of learning
  • Listing learned information
  • Remembering terms, methods, facts, concepts, specific items of information

Sample activities:

  • Label the parts of a plant.
  • Group together all the four syllable words.
  • List the freedoms included in the Bill of Rights.
  • Identify the food group to which each of these foods belongs.
  • Write definitions to the following words.
  • Locate examples of capitalization in the following story.
  • Remember an idea or fact in somewhat the same form in which it was learned
  • Question and answer sessions
  • Workbooks/worksheets
  • Programmed instruction
  • Remember things read, heard, saw
  • Games
  • Information searches
  • Reading assignments
  • Drill and practice
  • Finding definitions
  • Memory games
  • Quizzes
  • Questions have right and wrong answers

Descriptive verbs:

*** Words alone may not ensure the desired level.

Choose, copy, define, describe, find, group, identify, indicate, label, list, locate, match, name, pick, point to, quote, recall, recite, select, sort, state, tell, underline, write, what, when, who

2. Comprehension is defined as the ability to grasp the meaning of material. This may be shown by translating material from one form to another (words or numbers), by interpreting material (explaining or summarizing), and by estimating future trends (predicting consequences or effects). These learning outcomes go one step beyond the simple remembering of material, and represent the lowest level of understanding.

Description (explaining and understanding):

  • Ability to grasp the meaning of material
  • Communicating an idea
  • Explaining ideas
  • Summarizing material
  • Understanding facts and principles

Sample activities:

  • Give reasons for the energy crisis.
  • Explain why we have bus safety rules.
  • Outline the steps necessary for an idea to become a law.
  • Restate the reasons for weather changes.
  • Summarize the story.
  • What were the underlying factors that contributed to the Revolutionary War?
  • Communicate an idea
  • Giving examples of
  • Paraphrasing
  • Peer teaching
  • Show and tell
  • Give reasons for

Descriptive verbs:

Compare, comprehend, conclude, contrast, demonstrate, explain, expound, illustrate, outline, predict, rephrase

3. Application refers to the ability to use learned material in new and concrete situations. This may include the application of such things as rules, methods, concepts, principles, laws, and theories. Learning outcomes in this area require a higher level of understanding than those under comprehension.

Description (using ideas):

  • Applying concepts and principles to new situations
  • Applying laws and theories to practical situations
  • Solving of mathematical problems
  • Constructing charts and graphs
  • Demonstrating correct usage of a method or procedure
  • Applying rules, methods, concepts, principles, laws, theories
  • Requires higher level of understanding than comprehension

Sample activities:

  • Put this information in graph form.
  • Organize the forms of pollution from most damaging to least damaging.
  • Sketch a picture that relates your feelings of recess.
  • Using knowledge from various areas to find solutions to problems
  • Applying ideas to new or unusual situations
  • Simulation Activities
  • Role playing/role reversal
  • Model building
  • Interviewing
  • Group presentation
  • Conducting experiments
  • Practical applications of learned knowledge
  • Suggest actual uses of ideas

Descriptive verbs:

Apply, construct, classify, develop, organize, solve, test, use, utilize, wield

4. Analysis refers to the ability to break down material into its component parts so that its organizational structure may be understood. This may include the identification of the parts, analysis of the relationships between parts, and the recognition of the organizational principles involved. Learning outcomes here represent a higher intellectual level than comprehension and application because they require an understanding of both the content and the structural form of the material.

Description (breaking down):

  • Breaking material down into component parts
  • Understanding the organizational structure
  • Analysis of relationships between parts
  • Recognition of organizational principles involved
  • Understanding both the content and structural form
  • Analyzing the elements

Sample activities:

  • Simplify the ballet to its basic moves and.
  • Inspect a house for poor workmanship and ...
  • Observe a painting to uncover as many principles of art as possible and ...
  • Read a nonfiction book. Divide the book into its parts. Tell why the parts were placed in the order they were.
  • Look into the forces that might cause pressure for our legislators and ...
  • Inspect two presidential speeches. Compare and contrast them in writing.
  • Uncovering unique characteristics
  • Distinguishing between facts and inferences
  • Evaluating the relevancy of data
  • Recognizing logical fallacies in reasoning
  • Recognizing unstated assumptions
  • Analyzing the organizational structure of a work (of art, music, or writing)
  • Comparing and contrasting
  • Problem identification
  • Attribute listing
  • Morphological analysis

Descriptive verbs:

analyze, assume, breakdown, classify, compare, contrast, discriminate, dissect, distinguish, divide, deduce, diagram, examine, inspect, infer, reason, recognize, separate, simplify, section, scrutinize, survey, search, study, screen, sift, subdivide, take apart

5. Synthesis refers to the ability to put parts together to form a new whole. This may involve the production of a unique communication (theme or speech), a plan of operations (research proposal), or a set of abstract relations (scheme for classifying information). Learning outcomes in this area stress creative behaviors, with major emphasis on the formulation of new patterns or structures.

Description (forming new whole):

  • Putting parts together in a new whole
  • Formulating new patterns or structures
  • Abstract relationships
  • Communicating an idea in a unique way
  • Proposing a new set of operations
  • Creating new or original things
  • Take things and pattern them in a new way

Sample activities:

  • Create a new song for the melody of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
  • Combine elements of drama, music, and dance into a stage presentation.
  • Develop a plan for your school to save money.
  • Create a model of a new game that combines thinking, memory, and chance equally.
  • Reorganize a chapter/unit from your textbook the way you think it should be.
  • Find an unusual way to communicate the story of a book you have read.
  • Formulate positive changes that would improve learning in your classroom.
  • Develop an original plan
  • Writing a well organized theme
  • Writing a creative story, poem, or song
  • Proposing a plan for an experiment
  • Integrating the learning from different areas into a plan for solving a problem
  • Formulating a new scheme for classifying objects
  • Finding new combinations
  • Showing how an idea or product might be changed

Descriptive verbs:

build, create, combine, compile, compose, construct, develop, design, derive, form, formulate, generate, how, make, make up, modify, produce, plan, propose, reorder, reorganize, rearrange, reconstruct, revise, suggest, synthesize, what, write

6. Evaluation is concerned with the ability to judge the value of material (statement, novel, poem, research report) for a given purpose. The judgments are to be based on definite criteria. These may be internal criteria (organization) or external criteria (relevance to the purpose) and the student may determine the criteria or be given them. Learning outcomes in this area are highest in the cognitive hierarchy because they contain elements of all of the other categories, plus value judgments based on clearly defined criteria.

Description (judging):

  • Ability to judge the value of material
  • Use of definite criteria for judgments
  • Value judgments based on clearly defined criteria
  • Use of cognitive and affective thinking together

Sample activities:

  • Decide which person would best fill a position.
  • Rank the principles of “good sportsmanship” in order of importance to you.
  • Decide which proposed plan is the best.
  • Read two different accounts of an incident. Decide which story is most logical in its portrayal.
  • Judge the posters or murals your class has just constructed.
  • Justify the actions of your favorite historical figure.
  • Determine the necessary criteria for a good resource.
  • Summarize the involvements you have had with your class this year.
  • Making judgments about data or ideas based on either internal or external conditions or criteria
  • Rating ideas
  • Accepting or rejecting ideas based on standards
  • Judging the logical consistency of written material
  • Judging the adequacy with which conclusions are supported with data
  • Judging the value of a work (of art, music, writing) by using internal criteria or external standards of excellence
  • Generating criteria for evaluation
  • Making evaluations for peer projects and presentations
  • Evaluating one’s own products and ideas

Descriptive verbs:

appraise, accept/reject, assess, check, choose, conclude, criticize, decide, defend, determine, discriminate, evaluate, interpret, justify, judge, prioritize, rate, rank, reject/accept, referee, select, settle, support, umpire, weigh, which,

Affective domain - Bloom And Krathwohl

1. Receiving refers to the student’s willingness to attend to particular phenomena or stimuli (classroom activities, textbook, music, etc.). From a teaching standpoint, it is concerned with getting, holding, and directing the student’s attention. Learning outcomes in this area range from the simple awareness that a thing exists to selective attention on the part of the learner. Receiving represents the lowest level of learning outcomes in the affective domain.

Descriptive Activities:

  • Listens attentively
  • Shows awareness of the importance of learning 
  • Shows sensitivity to social problems 
  • Accepts differences of race and culture
  • Attends closely to the classroom activities

Descriptive verbs:

Asks, chooses, describes, follows,  gives, holds, identifies, locates, names, points to, selects, sits erect, replies,

2. Responding efers to active participation on the part of the student. At this level he not only attends to a particular phenomenon but also reacts to it in some way. Learning outcomes in this area may emphasize acquiescence in responding (reads beyond assignments) or satisfaction in responding (reads for pleasure or enjoyment). The higher levels of this category include those instructional objectives that are commonly classified under interest; that is, those that stress the seeking out and enjoyment of particular activities.

Descriptive Activities:

  • Completes assigned homework 
  • Obeys school rules
  • Participates in class discussion
  • Completes laboratory work
  • Volunteers for special tasks
  • Shows interest in the subject
  • Enjoys helping others

Descriptive verbs:

Answers, assists, complies, conforms, discusses, greets,  helps, labels, performs, practices, presents, reads, recites, tells,  reports, selects, writes

3. Valuing is concerned with the worth or value a student attaches to a particular object, phenomenon, or behavior. This ranges in degree from the simpler acceptance of a value (desires to improve group skills) to the more complex level of commitment (assumes responsibility for the effective functioning of the group). Valuing is based on the internalization of a set of specified values, but clues to these values are expressed in the student’s overt behavior that is consistent and stable enough to make the value clearly identifiable. Instructional objectives that are commonly classified under attitudes and appreciation would fall into this category.

Descriptive Activities:

  • Demonstrates belief in the democratic process
  • Appreciates good literature 
  • Appreciates the role of science  in everyday life   
  • Shows concern for the welfare of others
  • Demonstrates problem solving attitude 
  • Demonstrates commitment to social improvement

Descriptive verbs:

Completes, describes, differentiates, explains, follows, forms, initiates, invites, joins, justifies, proposes, reads, reports, selects, shares, studies, works

4. Organization is concerned with bringing together values, resolving conflicts between them, and beginning the building of an internally consistent value system. Thus the emphasis is on comparing, relating, and synthesizing values. Learning outcomes may be concerned with the conceptualization of a value (recognizes the responsibility of each individual for improving human relations) or with the organization of a value system (develops a vocational plan that satisfies his need for both economic security and social service). Instructional objectives relating to the development of a philosophy of life would fall into this category.

Descriptive Activities:

  • Recognizes the need for balance  between freedom and responsibility in a democracy 
  • Recognizes the role of systematic planning in problem solving 
  • Accepts responsibility for own  behavior 
  • Understands and accepts own strengths and weaknesses
  • Formulates a life plan in harmony  with his abilities, interests,  and beliefs

Descriptive verbs:

Adheres, alters, arranges, combines, compares, completes, defends, explains, generalizes, identifies, integrates, modifies, orders,  organizes, prepares, relates, synthesizes

5. Characterization by a value or value complex at this level of the affective domain, the individual has a value system that has controlled his behavior for a sufficiently long time for him to develop a characteristic life style. Thus the behavior is pervasive, consistent, and predictable. Learning outcomes at this level cover a broad range of activities, but the major emphasis is on the fact that the behavior is typical or characteristic of the student. Instructional objectives that are concerned with the student’s general patterns of adjustment (personal, social, emotional) would be appropriate here.

Descriptive Activities:

  • Displays safety consciousness 
  • Demonstrates self reliance in working independently
  • Practices cooperation in-group  activities 
  • Uses objective approach in problem solving 
  • Demonstrates industry and self  discipline
  • Maintains good health habits

Descriptive verbs:

Acts, discriminates,  displays, influences, listens, modifies, per forms, practices, pro poses, qualifies, questions, revises, serves, solves, uses, verifies

Psychomotor domain - Bloom And Harrow

1. Perception: the first level is concerned with the use of the sense organs to obtain cues that guide motor activity. This category ranges from sensory stimulation (awareness of a stimulus), through cue selection (selection task relevant cues) to translation (relating cue perception to action in performance).

Descriptive Activities:

  • Recognizes malfunction by sound of machine
  • Relates taste of food to need for seasoning
  • Relates music to a particular dance movement

Descriptive verbs:

Chooses, describes, detects, differentiates, distinguishes, identifies, isolates, relates, selects, separates

2. Set: refers to readiness to take a particular type of action. This category includes mental set (mental readiness to act), physical set (physical readiness to act), and emotional set (willingness to act). Perception of cues serves as an important prerequisite for this level.

Descriptive Activities:

  • Knows mechanical sequence of steps in varnishing wood 
  • Demonstrates proper bodily stance for batting a ball
  • Show desire to type efficiently by placement of hands and body

Descriptive verbs:

Begins, displays, explains, moves, proceeds, reacts, responds, shows, starts, volunteers

3. Guided response: is concerned with the early stages in learning a complex skill. It includes imitation (repeating an act demonstrated by the instructor) and trial and error (using a multiple response approach to identify an appropriate response). Adequacy of performance is judged by an instructor or by a suitable set of criteria.

Descriptive Activities:

  • Performs a golf swing as demonstrated 
  • Applies first aid bandage as demonstrated 
  • Determines best physical manipulation of objects in a sequence for preparing a meal 

Descriptive verbs:

Assembles, builds, calibrates, constructs, dismantles, displays, dissects, fastens, fixes,  grinds, heats, manipulates, measures, mends, organizes,  sketches

4. Mechanism: is concerned with performance acts where the learned responses have become habitual and the movements can be performed with some confidence and proficiency. Learning outcomes at this level are concerned with performance skills of various types, but the movement patterns are less complex than at the next higher level.

Descriptive Activities:

  • Writes smoothly and legibly
  • Sets up laboratory equipment 
  • Operates a slide projector
  • Demonstrates a simple dance step

Descriptive verbs:

(Same list as for guided  response)

5. Complex overt response: is concerned with the skillful performance of motor acts that involve complex movement patterns. Proficiency is indicated by a quick, smooth, accurate performance, requiring a minimum of energy. The category includes resolution of uncertainty (performs without hesitation) and automatic performance (movements are made with ease and good muscle control). Learning outcomes at this level include highly coordinated motor activities.

Descriptive Activities:

  • Operates a power saw skillfully
  • Demonstrates correct form in swimming
  • Demonstrates skill in driving an automobile
  • Performs skillfully on the violin
  • Repairs electronic equipment quickly and accurately

Descriptive verbs:

(Same list as for guided response)

6. Adaptation: is concerned with skills that are so well developed that the individual can modify movement patterns to fit special requirements or to meet a problem situation.

Descriptive Activities:

  • Adjusts tennis play to counteract opponent’s style
  • Modifies swimming strokes to fit the roughness of the water

Descriptive verbs:

Adapts, alters, changes,  rearranges, reorganizes, revises, varies

7. Origination: refers to the creating of a new movement pattern to fit a particular situation or specific problem. Learning outcomes at this level emphasize creativity based upon highly developed skills.

Descriptive Activities:

  • Creates a dance step
  • Creates a musical composition 
  • Designs a new dress style

Descriptive verbs:

Arranges, combines, composes, constructs, creates, designs, originates



Taxonomy Toothpick pattern activity

Activity Directions:

Use toothpicks to make the following pattern, then compete each step below.


  1. Select and describe a strategy to find how many tooth picks are in the pattern without counting each toothpick.
  2. Write an equation to illustrate a strategy to determine the number of tooth picks. You may change your strategy.
  3. Exchange an equation with a partner. Prove to yourself the strategy you were given will determine the number of toothpicks.
  4. Return the equation to the partner and explain strategies to each other.
  5. Form groups of four and repeat steps 5 and 6.
  6. Everyone puts their equation on a display board.
  7. Each person tries to understand how each equation on the board is a strategy to find a solution.
  8. Take turns listening and explaining the equations on the board until everyone understands the strategy for each.
  9. Organize the equations into categories.
  10. Each person, pair, or group of four creates a new problem using what was learned today.
  11. Each person or group shares a new problem with the others.
  12. Which equation was the most unique? Why?
  13. Each person or group shares what equation they think is most unique and why it's most unique with the others.


Each level of Bloom's taxonomy is represented in one or more of the requests in the above sequence. Identify them.









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