Benjamin Samuel Bloom Essay

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Benjamin Samuel Bloom is remembered by students of learning theory as the creator of Bloom’s taxonomy, which attempted to define and classify educational skills and goals. His work continues to influence those involved in education in setting curricula and in creating and identifying appropriate assessments of learning.

Bloom was born February 21, 1913, in Lansford, Pennsylvania. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Pennsylvania State University before earning his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago in 1942. After earning his doctorate, he taught and did research at that institution until 1983, when he moved to Northwestern University. Bloom retired from Northwestern in 1989 and died in 1999.

The best known of his many publications is Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals Handbook I: Cognitive Domain, originally published in 1956. Working with a group of psychologists, Bloom addressed three “domains” related to learning: cognitive, affective, and psychomotor. Concentrating on the cognitive domain, Bloom’s taxonomy posits six levels, each requiring greater cognitive skills than the preceding one.

The taxonomy begins with the basic level of knowledge. At this level, the concentration is on basic definitions. Comprehension is the next cognitive level and requires such skills as interpretation of meaning, comparison, contrast, and summary. Application then requires problem solving and other demonstrations of knowledge. The more creative capacities of analysis include the identification of patterns or potential alternate meanings. At the level of synthesis, examples of competencies are generalization and prediction. At the highest level, evaluation is concerned with the assessment of the value of information, identification of bias or other flaws with information, and making further decisions based on information.


  1. Anderson, L. W., & Sosniak, L. A. (1994). Bloom’s taxonomy: A forty-year retrospective. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  2. Guskey, T. R. (Ed.). (2006). Benjamin S. Bloom: Portraits of an educator. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

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