More verbs for the formulation of learning objectives

In 1956, a committee chaired by Benjamin Bloom published a system for classifying objectives. This format is still used by students and teachers today. It is a handy tool for naming and organizing student activities and the types of questions used in exams. Bloom and his colleagues ranked the objectives in ascending level of difficulty. The taxonomy can be envisaged as a staircase. Each step is more complicated than the one before, and it includes all of the previous steps:

1. Knowledge: Close your book and name Bloom’s six levels of intellectual ability.

2. Understanding: Here are three questions. At which of Bloom’s levels are the questions posed?

3. Application: How can knowledge of Bloom’s Taxonomy improve teaching?

4. Analysis: Compare Blooms Taxonomy to the classification systems devised by others.

5. Synthesis: Design a new and improved classification system for intellectual ability.

6. Evaluation: Should Bloom be a mandatory component of degree programmes?

Level of mastery

Behavioural trait

Operational ‘verbs’


recalling facts, recognition, memory

classify, recognize, identify, arrange, locate, retell, name, identify, enumerate, recall, categorize, select, distinguish, illustrate


understanding, interpretation, logical recall

designate, identify, formulate, illustrate, characterize, order, sketch, identify, typify, tell it in your own words, represent


using elements from ‘know’ and ‘understand’ in novel situations;

selecting the right laws, rules, schedules, concepts etc.

contribute, share, indicate boundaries, gaps, etc., treat, calculate, describe, observe, contribute, define, demonstrate, use, observe, solve, compose, list, select and follow procedure, report, estimate, explain, clarify, predict, suggest, design, formulate questions



ranking by content, form, function etc.;

assembling individual elements into a unique and original whole

reject, divert, consider the pros and cons, present alternatives, argue, comment on, balance interests, conclude, compile, monitor, discuss, reformulate, manage, model, motivate, negotiate,

design, trace errors, build, troubleshoot, rank, organize, discuss, prioritize, relate, compose, summarize, perform, create


evaluating, assessing, applying outside one’s own discipline

advise, assess, comment on, critically investigate, evaluate, support, judge, defend, test, independently act


>> proceed to “The choice of test format

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