What You Forgot About Bloom's Taxonomy

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Bloom’s Taxonomy was created for instructional designers, as a framework to create holistic learning experiences that focus on each of three domains of learning.

The key piece that is so often forgotten is those first few words: Bloom’s was created for instructional designers. Not learners.

An instructional design needs well-crafted learning objectives to ensure that training is accomplishing specific goals. Learners need training that is developed around those meticulously honed objectives so that their behavior can change—and time is well spent. The learner DOES NOT need a bulleted list of those perfect objectives.

When I am not designing web-based training, I am also a piano teacher. In that realm, I may design a lesson this way:


After completing this lesson, the student will be able to:

  • analyze melodic lines for intervals and patterns
  • predict chord structure based on the movement of the melody
  • experiment with cadence and inversion to produce a variety of sounds
  • interpret the melody in a range of styles including classical, jazz, and rock.

When a student walks in the door and wants to know what we’re doing, I don’t show them those objectives. I tell them, “Today, we’re going to learn your favorite song by ear, and add a little improv!” Why? Because that’s what they care about. The behavior that matters to the learners will get them sprinting to the bench to get started. Yes, properly designing the lesson matters—but not to the learners.
It is because those bullets don’t have “meaning” to them. How objectives are crafted is only really important to those of us designing training. Regardless of the age of your audience, when they walk in the door, they just want to know what they will be able to do after leaving and the benefits for their time.

Quick Tips

  • Don’t tell your learners they will be able to “explain the purchasing policy”. Explain how they can minimize the time it takes to get their purchases approved.
  • Don’t say they will be able to “comply with the safety requirements.” Tell them they’ll prevent injuries.
  • Don’t say they will “formulate effective development plans” for their employees. Tell them that they will support their employees in developing skills and landing promotions.

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About the Author
Jessica Davis is a learning technologies specialist. She spends most of her time brainstorming new ways to enhance the learner’s experience. She is passionate about envelope-pushing, status-quo-busting and having a visceral distaste for “the way it was done before.” In her free time, she is also a piano teacher, distance runner, blogger, and mystery novel fanatic.
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