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Bloom's Taxonomy in Developing Assessment Items - A Framework for Developing Online Assessment Items

Draga Vidakovic, Jean Bevis, and Margo Alexander


We utilize Bloom's taxonomy (Krathwohl, Bloom, and Masia, 1964; see also Krumme, 2001) as a framework for developing online assessment questions. The framework is based on the notion of hierarchy of thought processes and consists of the following six categories. You may click on each category name for a short description.

Each category requires more complex thinking than the one preceding it and also builds on or incorporates the preceding types of thought in order to proceed to the "higher" levels. Assessment items developed using this framework should include a range of levels and thinking processes, with the majority of them accessing a higher level of thinking. Thus, in developing questions, we keep in mind that we want students to think, make connections, question the information included in the problem, process the information, and reflect on their answers.

Depending on their background and motivation, individual students may approach a problem at different levels of Bloom's hierarchy. This is more likely true of students at different colleges, with different instructors, using different texts, than of students in the same class using the same text. Please keep this in mind as we illustrate how these levels apply to typical students in our classes.  When you think about these items in the context of your own students, you may well disagree with our classification. More importantly, we find that we can use Bloom's taxonomy as a guide to help us construct more stimulating assessment items. We believe that other instructors can do the same.

Our pedagogical goals are to:

  1. encourage students' thought processes to move from simple to complex;


  2. generate cognitive conflicts (explanation);


  3. foster a sense of student-student and student-teacher interactions; and


  4. help students draw connections to their own mathematical experiences

Draga Vidakovic, Jean Bevis, and Margo Alexander, "Bloom's Taxonomy in Developing Assessment Items - A Framework for Developing Online Assessment Items," Convergence (December 2004)