The Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (and why we think it’s important!)

12 October 2020


The Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (and why we think it’s important!)

In our online courses, we use the Taxonomy of Educational Objectives to formulate the learning objectives for our courses and let our students know what level of understanding and learning is expected of them. We’ve managed to implement this in a manner that is subtle, playful and visual, but understanding the background of this taxonomy will help you learn on our platform even better. Hence the existence of this article you’re reading!


First, a little history lesson. The Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, sometimes referred to as Bloom’s Taxonomy, was originally conceived by educational psychologist Dr. Benjamin Bloom in 1956. He wanted to promote higher levels of learning, rather than focusing education on just remembering facts. In 2001, this taxonomy was revised by Lorin Anderson and David Kratwohl, which is the version of the taxonomy that we refer to.

Cognitive Learning Dimensions

So what exactly is it? The Taxonomy of Educational Objectives is a theoretical framework for classifying learning objectives into a hierarchy of cognitive dimensions. It does so according to the learning objectives of ‘Remembering, Understanding, Applying, Analyzing, Evaluating and Creating’, where each objective implies a level of thinking that requires the preceding levels to be achieved first.

What we use it for

So as mentioned earlier, we at The Productivity Company use this Taxonomy to help formulate the learning goals for the content of our online courses, and subsequently formulate the quiz questions for each course accordingly. By doing this, we can determine the level of the skills and competences that our online courses are meant to stimulate, and also prepare our students for the quizzes so they know exactly what will be expected of them. At the beginning and end of every lesson in each course, we will list the learning objectives for that lesson based on the six dimensions as defined in the Taxonomy.


Below you can find a quick overview of these dimensions and their sub-dimensions.


The dimension of Remembering is all about memorizing facts and information; retrieving relevant knowledge from memory. This dimension is divided into Recognizing and Recalling.


Understanding is about determining the meaning of messages and instructions. It is divided into Interpreting, Exemplifying, Classifying, Summarizing, Inferring, Comparing and Explaining.


Applying is about being able to carry out a procedure or task, and is divided into Executing and Implementing.


Analyzing is breaking materials or content apart into its components and detecting how these relate to one another and how they form the structure of the whole. It is divided into Differentiating, Organizing and Attributing.


Evaluating is about making judgements and determining value and quality according to criteria and standards. It is divided into Checking and Critiquing.


Creating is about creating a product, project or any coherent whole consisting of elements. It is divided into Generating, Planning and Producing.

Application through E-Learning

We believe that using a taxonomy of learning objectives is essential to creating a successful online course, as it can be used to guide the student in their learning process, and ensures that learning isn’t purely about memorizing facts.

Online courses are the ideal platform for the first three cognitive levels of the taxonomy, as they can be best stimulated through visual cues, repetition and practical examples; typical staples of e-learning solutions. Of course the three higher levels are also possible to implement through digital learning technology, but this is a little more tricky and often requires active tutor assessment, which tends to be expensive to implement.

Our process

And now for how it all comes together. We’ve explained what the taxonomy is and what we use it for, but now let us give you a look at what its place is in our process.

When we create an online course, we always start out with a Body of Knowledge, formulated and supplied to us by an authority or according to existing certifications. This Body of Knowledge is to determine the course content; the content that we want our students to learn.

We then apply the Taxonomy of Educational Objectives to this Body of Knowledge in order to decide how this content should be learned and on what cognitive level. Using this process, we ensure that our courses comply with both the international standards of the Body Knowledge and the educational level of quality that one should expect and demand of an institute of education.

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