Using Bloom’s Taxonomy to Write Effective Learning Objectives: The ABCD Approach
Bloom’s Taxonomy offers a framework for categorizing educational goals that students are expected to attain as learning progresses.
Learning objectives can be identified as the goals that should be achieved by a student at the end of a lesson. The objectives of a lesson describe the base knowledge and skills we want our students to learn from our lesson. Simply put it’s what the student can do after they unit has been introduced. Your choice of materials, topics and logical structured presentation of a lesson has a direct influence on the objectives or goals you want your students to achieve.
See also: What is flipped classroom
Having a clear learning objective assists the facilitator or teacher in the basic course design. It helps with the creation of assessment, which in return showcases the student’s ability to achieve the objectives through collecting data. Monitoring a student’s progress throughout the learning process is vital to understand whether they are able to reach the learning objective or not. Furthermore, assessing students help the teacher to realize whether teaching methods should be adjusted or not.
See also: Instructional design
Having specific goals help the logical flow of a lesson. It’s vital that a lesson is tailored to achieve detailed lesson objectives. In order for the lesson to have a positive and constructive outcome. Basically, to make sure that students achieve the aim of the lesson.
See also: ADDIE model
This process can be simplified by following a basic formula: The ABCD approach. By using this formula, you will be able to create clear and effective objectives. It consists of four key elements: (A) Audience, (B) Behavior, (C) Condition, and (D) Degree.
A-Audience: Determine who will achieve the objective.
B-Behavior: Use action verbs (Bloom’s taxonomy) to write observable and measurable behavior that shows mastery of the objective.
C-Condition: If any, state the condition under which behavior is to be performed. (Optional)
D-Degree: If possible, state the criterion for acceptable performance, speed, accuracy, quality, etc. (Optional)
Please note that not every learning objective must contain a condition or state a degree.
Please also note that objectives may not be written in this order (ABCD).
Below are some example objectives which include Audience, Behavior, Condition, Degree
- “Students will be able to apply the standard deviation rule to the special case of distributions having a normal shape.”
- “Given a specific case study, learners will be able to conduct at least 2 needs analysis. “
- “Given a diagram of the eye, students will be able label the 9 extra-ocular muscles and describe at least 2 of their actions.”
- “Students will explain the social justice to ensure that adequate social services are provided to those who need them in three paragraphs.”
See also: Instructional design models
First you need to establish what prior knowledge your students have. Assess whether your students know any of the materials you want to present. What experiences do they have prior to coming into the classroom? By taking into account their valuable prior-knowledge you will be able to create an innovative lesson, with unique content. Content that your students don’t know about yet.
Prior knowledge can be assessed by giving all students a pre-test or a pre-course quiz. It’s vital to accurately understand a student’s prior knowledge to avoid misconceptions and misunderstandings. In this way you can avoid repeating information they already know as well as adjust your learning objectives accordingly.
This also gives you the opportunity to get to know your students that will help you adapt your teaching styles and methods. It’s important to know what motivates your new audience, what are their values and personality types. You can also discover what kind of learners they are. By assessing your students’ prior knowledge, you can add activities and worksheets that they will find interesting and can relate to.
Now, you can also make sure that the content you want to present are relevant to their reference frameworks. You can add extra materials and topics to challenge them and to tailor the learning objectives to the skills that they need to obtain and not the skills they already have.
After identifying your Audience by keeping the above-mentioned alternatives in mind you can start writing down your learning objectives. Usually it starts with a phrase like,
“After reviewing this section, students will be able to…” or “After completing this activity, learners will be able to…”
See also: What are MOOCs
It’s quite simple to understand the different behaviors shown by students. By using the Blooms taxonomy theory, you could classify individuals into three different groups by assessing their intellectual behavior. Behavior can be assessed by observing and measuring a student’s ability to apply new skills they have learned and how they display knowledge of the new skills.
Here is a list of the classifications by the Bloom’s Taxonomy to measure proficiency and competence from a learner:
Domains of Bloom’s Taxonomy
Bloom states that learning occurs in three different learning domains: Cognitive, Affective, and Psychomotor.
Cognitive domain learning refers to the student’s ability to think and use their brain power. Psychomotor domain learning refers to a student’s physical ability to use an instrument or tool. Affective domain learning refers to the student’s ability to resolve conflict and their emotional stability and growth.
The cognitive domain is further divided into two sub-categories: Cognitive process dimension and the Knowledge dimension.
1.Cognitive process dimension
This domain involves the process we use to apply and showcase our intellectual skills. Ranked from lower to higher order complexities: remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, and then finally create.
Students have different ways of showcasing and applying their knowledge just as much as they learn in different ways:
- Metacognitive: Learners focuses on contextualizing, self-knowledge, strategy, and cognitive tasks.
- Conceptual: Learners focuses on theories, assemblies, categories and groupings, ideologies and generalizations.
- Factual: Learners focuses on facts, specific details and terminology
- Procedural: Learners focuses on using different algorithms, techniques and methods, following step-by-step guidelines for specific scenarios.
Basically, the cognitive domain refers to the kind of intellectual learners we are whereas the knowledge domain identifies the ways in which we use knowledge.
The cognitive process levels are categorized from lower-order to higher-order thinking skills: remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, and create.
|Cognitive Level||Description||Verbs Commonly Used in Cognitive Objectives|
|Remember||Retrieving and recalling relevant knowledge from long-term memory||Recall, identify, define, recite, repeat, select, label, quote, copy, list, name, state|
|Understand||Constructing meaning from oral, written, and graphic messages through interpreting, exemplifying, classifying, summarizing, inferring, comparing, and explaining||Interpret, exemplify, classify, summarize, infer, compare, explain, describe, indicate, translate, paraphrase, explain, discuss, report, rewrite|
|Apply||Carrying out or using a procedure through executing or implementing; applying knowledge to actual situations||Execute, implement, relate, sketch, calculate, demonstrate, estimate, illustrate, contrast, diagnose, identify, classify|
|Analyze||Breaking material into constituent parts; determining how the parts relate to one another and to an overall structure or purpose through differentiating, organizing, and attributing||Differentiate, organize, attribute, select, combine, figure, find, solve, change, survey, compare, diagram, examine, test, modify|
|Evaluate||Making judgments based on criteria and standards through checking and critiquing||Assess, check, critique, predict, argue, defend, estimate, judge, qualify, rate, support, recommend, appraise|
|Create||Putting elements together to form a coherent or functional whole; re-organizing elements into a new pattern or structure through generating, planning, or producing||Generate, plan, produce, develop, construct, invent, manage, modify, organize, create, design, devise, formulate, invent, prepare, propose, construct|
This domain refers to the emotional capability of an individual and in which ways they act and react towards is. It puts emphasis on five subjective influences such as values, emotions, motivations, appreciations, and personal attitudes.
The five levels under the Affective domain refers to Characterizing – To be able to manage and resolve. Organizing – to be able to formulate, balance and discuss. Valuing – To be able to support and debate. Responding – To be able to volunteer, work together and to follow, and Receiving – To be able to differentiate, accept and listen.
|Affective Level||Description||Verbs Commonly Used in Cognitive Objectives|
|Receiving||Learner is aware and receptive; otherwise, learning cannot take place||Reply, use, describe, follow, locate|
|Responding||Learner actively participates in the process. Besides being aware, the learner responds in some fashion||Discuss, answer, perform, present, write|
|Valuing||Valuing identifies the value an individual associates with an object or behavior; can range from basic acceptance to a more complex commitment||Share, invite, explain, join, report, follow, justify|
|Organizing||Learner can synthesize different information and values. Values can be organized into priorities; values are compared and synthesized||Formulate, defend, prepare, arrange, integrate|
|Characterizing (internalizing)||A belief or value becomes part of the system that controls the learner’s behavior||Influence, practice, perform, discriminate, propose|
The learner can be affected and influenced in many different ways. Learning objectives need to meet the different needs of a learner.
Psychomotor domain is the learning and combination of old and new skills that involves physical movements.
This domain categorizes skills in five different levels:
|Psychomotor Level||Description||Verbs Commonly Used in Cognitive Objectives|
|Observing||Pay active attention to a physical event||Select, describe, detect, differentiate|
|Imitating||Copy a physical behavior||Answer, reproduce, copy, trace, grasp|
|Practicing||Practice a particular physical activity repeatedly||Fasten, measure, assemble, dismantle, stretch|
|Adapting||Make adjustments to a physical activity in an attempt to achieve perfection||Vary, reorganize, change, adjust, rearrange|
Once you understand the behavior of your learners you will be able to adapt your learning objectives according.
The third step in the ABC procedure is looking at the different conditions. Ask yourself when writing your lesson aims and objectives – What conditions am I surrounded in?
This can also refer to specific tools and materials a student may need to apply in the lesson as well as the classroom situation. If you have a very small classroom you can’t have a lesson objective where students should roam around and ask each other questions. You won’t get the outcome you desire. Do your students have the necessary equipment to be able to perform and achieve the lesson objective?
Think practically – What kind of equipment is available to you, are they necessary in order for you to achieve the aim? What kind of equipment should not be allowed in the classroom? Will the conditions of having too many things in the classroom be disruptive and hinder the learning outcome?
Remember that conditions influence the learner’s performance and in effect the overall behavior. The following examples does not describe conditions:
- Given a three-part lecture.…
- After completing this unit….
- Given that the student has passed an introductory course….
The last step in the ABCD Approach is ‘Degree’. This basically refers to the level in which a learner should perform for it to be seen as credible. The learning objective should either be at its highest level, which means that the student can produce the aim with precision and without any mistakes. Leading to the lowest level where the student can’t produce the aim at all and are making many mistakes.
To which degree should the students be assessed against to be classified as ‘achieving the aim’?
The degree can be described as: A student can “successfully construct” or A student can “accurately describe.” Be sure to elaborate on ‘successful’ and ‘accurate’ to make sure the students are fairly assessed.
You can be more specific in your assessment criteria in stating: A student can “list all 12 moving parts” or A student can “name all parts of a machine.”
When writing down the degree to which students are assessed in your learning objective make sure that it’s stated accurately. Unacceptable criteria are vague for example: “must be able to make 80 percent on a multiple-choice exam” or “must pass a final exam” or “to the satisfaction of the instructor” are not precise enough and can’t count as a degree.
Rather change “To the satisfaction of the instructor” to “according to an instructor-supplied checklist of criteria.”
The assessment criteria should be easily measured by looking at the student’s performance.
Many instructors, teachers and facilitators don’t value the importance of writing learning objectives. It’s vital to any class and should be given some thought. Learning goals, aims and objectives should be very clear before doing any kind of lesson plan. A teacher should know what they are working towards in order for students to reach their full potential and achieve the aim of the class. Writing a decent and thorough learning objective shows competency and skill of the instructor.
Using the ABCD method (Audience, Behavior, Condition and Degree) will help you clarify your learning objectives and ultimately help you and your students achieve a better outcome.
Action Words and Phrases to Avoid
Your objectives should be free of vague or ambiguous words and phrases. Below are some of the action verbs that are not observable or measurable:
|acquainted with||adjusted to||anxiety||appreciation for|
|attitude of||awareness of||capable of||cognizant of|
|comprehension of||conscious of||enjoyment of||appreciation for|
|acquainted with||adjusted to||interested in||familiar with|
|feeling for||immaturity||insecurity||interest in|
|knowledge of||knowledgeable about||to become||to reduce|