If you want your students to master complex STEM concepts, it is helpful to establish clear learning objectives to guide progress. Without these objectives, it is tricky to evaluate your students’ progress. However, you may not know what learning objectives to set. Using Bloom's Taxonomy verbs as a framework for lessons, educators can implement new methods to establish clear goals for their students.
What is Bloom's Taxonomy?
Bloom's Taxonomy was created in 1956 by educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom. This teaching approach provides educators with a classification system of different learning objectives for their students. The taxonomy has been updated to include six levels of learning.
Bloom's Taxonomy is hierarchical, meaning students must master one level before moving onto the next. This is why the taxonomy is often shown as a pyramid. Teachers can use these levels to structure lessons, assessments, and learning outcomes.
What are Bloom's Taxonomy Verbs?
Each level of learning contains a list of Bloom's taxonomy verbs for objectives. These verbs identify what actions a student should take based on where they're at in their learning journey. By using verbs to identify goals, teachers can clearly communicate what steps a student must take to demonstrate progress.
Remembering is the first level of learning in Bloom's Taxonomy. Objectives in this phase include recalling facts and remembering basic concepts. Learners must have a baseline knowledge of a topic before they can engage in deeper thinking making this phase critically important. The following verbs help identify objectives for students at this introductory learning level.
After remembering comes understanding. Students that understand a concept can articulate its meaning and can begin building relationships between this new idea and other concepts. Objectives in this learning level include explaining concepts in more detail and describing why they're important. Verbs that identify objectives in the understanding phase include the following.
Once students understand a concept, the next goal is to help them apply what they've learned in new situations. The following verbs identify learning objectives for students ready to use what they've learned in a novel way.
Students that have a comprehensive understanding of a topic are capable of analyzing it. This means dissecting concepts and learning how different components work together. Examples of verbs that could be used to pinpoint learning objectives include the following.
Once a student has reached the evaluation stage of learning, they should be able to justify an argument based on evidence. The following verbs are potential objectives students may have as they near the top of the learning pyramid.
The creation phase is the highest level of Bloom's Taxonomy. Once a student has reached this level, they have mastered a topic and can create something new. This could look like a research proposal or design for a relevant experiment. Use the following verbs to harness your students' creativity and test their knowledge.
How to Use Bloom's Taxonomy Verbs
Now that you understand what Bloom's Taxonomy is and how each level is defined, how can you apply this teaching method to your classroom?
We suggest treating it as a framework for teaching rather than a strict protocol. It may not apply to every aspect of your teaching, but it can provide a new perspective on how you can approach lesson planning. For a little inspiration of what this could look like in a STEM classroom, take a look at the following Bloom's Taxonomy examples.
Gauge the Classroom
To ensure you're creating lesson plans that meet students where they are, survey your classroom a few days before exploring a new topic. Once you know what preliminary knowledge your students have, identify their collective Taxonomy level so no one is left behind.
Once you've identified where on the taxonomy level the majority of your class fits, you can begin brainstorming assignments that address the correlated objective. If you notice that many students are struggling with these assignments, you may have misjudged their baseline knowledge and need to step back a level. On the flip side, if students are breezing through assignments quickly, they may be ready to move forward.
Frame Letter Grades
While many STEM assignments, like math, have straightforward answers, a writing assignment may be a better way for students to demonstrate an understanding of a topic. Since these assignments often don't have a single correct response, they are more challenging to grade. Teachers can simplify evaluating assignments by using Bloom's Taxonomy to frame letter grades.
For example, let's say students were asked to compare and contrast two bridge designs, testing their ability to analyze a topic. One of your students described each design in detail instead of distinguishing the designs from each other. This would indicate that they are still in the “understanding” stage and had not yet made it to the analyzing level. They would likely need more assistance to reach the analyzing stage and receive a higher grade.
An Innovative Approach to Objective Setting
In order for STEM students to thrive in their future careers, they will need to master concepts through each stage of their education. Using Bloom's Taxonomy to set clear objectives can help teachers meet their students where they are and ensure they fully grasp each new topic they learn.