|Learning Domains or Bloom's Taxonomy
Big Dog's Bowl of Biscuits
The Three Types of Learning
There is more than one type of learning. A committee of
colleges, led by Benjamin Bloom, identified three domains of
educational activities. The three domains are cognitive,
affective, and psychomotor. Since the work was produced by
higher education, the words tend to be a little bigger than
we are normally used to. Domains can be thought of as
categories. Cognitive is for mental skills (Knowledge),
affective is for growth in feelings or emotional areas
(Attitude), while psychomotor is for manual or physical
skills (Skills). Trainers often refer to these as KAS, SKA,
or KSA (Knowledge, Attitude, and Skills). This taxonomy of
learning behaviors can be thought of as "the goals of the
training process." That is, after the training session, the
learner should have acquires these new skills, knowledge, or
The committee then produced an elaborate compilation for
the cognitive and affective domains, but none for the
psychomotor domain. Their explanation for this oversight was
that they have little experience in teaching manual skills
within the college level (I guess they never thought to
check with their sports or drama department).
This compilation divides the three domains into
subdivisions, starting from the simplest behavior to the
most complex. The divisions outlined are not absolutes and
there are other systems or hierarchies that have been
devised in the educational and training world. However,
Bloom's taxonomy is easily understood and is probably the
most widely applied one in use today.
The cognitive domain involves knowledge and the development
of intellectual skills. This includes the recall or
recognition of specific facts, procedural patterns, and
concepts that serve in the development of intellectual
abilities and skills. There are six major categories, which
are listed in order below, starting from the simplest
behavior to the most complex. The categories can be thought
of as degrees of difficulties. That is, the first one must
be mastered before the next one can take place.
|Knowledge: Recall of
||Examples: Recite a
policy. Quote prices from memory to a customer.
Knows the safety rules.
Key Words: defines,
describes, identifies, knows, labels, lists,
matches, names, outlines, recalls, recognizes,
reproduces, selects, states.
- Comprehension: Understand the meaning,
translation, interpolation, and interpretation
of instructions and problems. State a problem in
one's own words.
|Examples: Rewrites the
principles of test writing. Explain in one’s own
words the steps for performing a complex task.
Translates an equation into a computer spreadsheet.
Key words: comprehends, converts, defends,
distinguishes, estimates, explains, extends,
generalizes, gives examples, infers, interprets,
paraphrases, predicts, rewrites, summarizes,
|Application: Use a
concept in a new situation or unprompted use of an
abstraction. Applies what was learned in the
classroom into novel situations in the workplace.
||Examples: Use a manual
to calculate an employee’s vacation time. Apply laws
of statistics to evaluate the reliability of a
Key Words: applies, changes, computes,
constructs, demonstrates, discovers, manipulates,
modifies, operates, predicts, prepares, produces,
relates, shows, solves, uses.
material or concepts into component parts so that
its organizational structure may be understood.
Distinguishes between facts and inferences.
a piece of equipment by using logical deduction.
Recognize logical fallacies in reasoning. Gathers
information from a department and selects the
required tasks for training.
breaks down, compares, contrasts, diagrams,
deconstructs, differentiates, discriminates,
distinguishes, identifies, illustrates, infers,
outlines, relates, selects, separates.
|Synthesis: Builds a
structure or pattern from diverse elements. Put
parts together to form a whole, with emphasis on
creating a new meaning or structure.
||Examples: Write a
company operations or process manual. Design a
machine to perform a specific task. Integrates
training from several sources to solve a problem.
Revises and process to improve the outcome.
Keywords: categorizes, combines, compiles, composes,
creates, devises, designs, explains, generates,
modifies, organizes, plans, rearranges,
reconstructs, relates, reorganizes, revises,
rewrites, summarizes, tells, writes.
judgments about the value of ideas or materials.
||Examples: Select the
most effective solution. Hire the most qualified
candidate. Explain and justify a new budget.
Keywords: appraises, compares, concludes, contrasts,
criticizes, critiques, defends, describes,
discriminates, evaluates, explains, interprets,
justifies, relates, summarizes, supports.
This domain includes the manner in which we deal with things
emotionally, such as feelings, values, appreciation,
enthusiasms, motivations, and attitudes. The five major
categories listed in order are:
Awareness, willingness to hear, selected attention.
||Examples: Listen to
others with respect. Listen for and remember the
name of newly introduced people.
chooses, describes, follows, gives, holds,
identifies, locates, names, points to, selects,
sits, erects, replies, uses.
phenomena: Active participation on the part of the
learners. Attends and reacts to a particular
phenomenon. Learning outcomes may emphasize
compliance in responding, willingness to respond, or
satisfaction in responding (motivation).
in class discussions. Gives a presentation.
Questions new ideals, concepts, models, etc. in
order to fully understand them. Know the safety
rules and practices them.
assists, aids, complies, conforms, discusses,
greets, helps, labels, performs, practices,
presents, reads, recites, reports, selects, tells,
|Valuing: The worth or
value a person attaches to a particular object,
phenomenon, or behavior. This ranges from simple
acceptance to the more complex state of
commitment. Valuing is based on the internalization
of a set of specified values, while clues to these
values are expressed in the learner’s overt behavior
and are often identifiable.
belief in the democratic process. Is sensitive
towards individual and cultural differences (value
diversity). Shows the ability to solve
problems. Proposes a plan to social improvement and
follows through with commitment. Informs management
on matters that one feels strongly about.
Keywords: completes, demonstrates,
differentiates, explains, follows, forms, initiates,
invites, joins, justifies, proposes, reads, reports,
selects, shares, studies, works.
values into priorities by contrasting different
values, resolving conflicts between them, and
creating an unique value system. The emphasis is on
comparing, relating, and synthesizing values.
the need for balance between freedom and responsible
behavior. Accepts responsibility for one’s behavior.
Explains the role of systematic planning in solving
problems. Accepts professional ethical
standards. Creates a life plan in harmony with
abilities, interests, and beliefs. Prioritizes time
effectively to meet the needs of the organization,
family, and self.
Keywords: adheres, alters, arranges, combines,
compares, completes, defends, explains, formulates,
generalizes, identifies, integrates, modifies,
orders, organizes, prepares, relates, synthesizes.
(characterization): Has a value system that controls
their behavior. The behavior is pervasive,
consistent, predictable, and most importantly,
characteristic of the learner. Instructional
objectives are concerned with the student's general
patterns of adjustment (personal, social,
self-reliance when working independently. Cooperates
in group activities (displays teamwork). Uses an
objective approach in problem solving. Displays a
professional commitment to ethical practice on a
daily basis. Revises judgments and changes behavior
in light of new evidence. Values people for what
they are, not how they look.
Keywords: acts, discriminates, displays,
influences, listens, modifies, performs, practices,
proposes, qualifies, questions, revises, serves,
The psychomotor domain includes physical movement,
coordination, and use of the motor-skill areas. Development
of these skills requires practice and is measured in terms
of speed, precision, distance, procedures, or techniques in
execution. The seven major categories listed in order are:
|Perception: The ability
to use sensory cues to guide motor activity. This
ranges from sensory stimulation, through cue
selection, to translation.
non-verbal communication cues. Estimate where a ball
will land after it is thrown and then moving to the
correct location to catch the ball. Adjusts heat of
stove to correct temperature by smell and taste of
food. Adjusts the height of the forks on a forklift
by comparing where the forks are in relation to the
Keywords: chooses, describes, detects,
differentiates, distinguishes, identifies, isolates,
|Set: Readiness to
act. It includes mental, physical, and emotional
sets. These three sets are dispositions that
predetermine a person’s response to different
situations (sometimes called mindsets).
- Examples: Knows and acts upon a sequence of
steps in a manufacturing process. Recognize
one’s abilities and limitations. Shows desire to
learn a new process (motivation). NOTE: This
subdivision of Psychomotor is closely related
with the "Responding to phenomena" subdivision
of the Affective domain.
Keywords: begins, displays, explains, moves,
proceeds, reacts, shows, states, volunteers.
|Guided response: The
early stages in learning a complex skill that
includes imitation and trial and error. Adequacy of
performance is achieved by practicing.
||Examples: Performs a
mathematical equation as demonstrated. Follows
instructions to build a model. Responds hand-signals
of instructor while learning to operate a forklift.
Keywords: copies, traces, follows, react,
|Mechanism: This is the
intermediate stage in learning a complex
skill. Learned responses have become habitual and
the movements can be performed with some confidence
||Examples: Use a
personal computer. Repair a leaking faucet. Drive a
Keywords: assembles, calibrates, constructs,
dismantles, displays, fastens, fixes, grinds, heats,
manipulates, measures, mends, mixes, organizes,
|Complex Overt Response:
The skillful performance of motor acts that involve
complex movement patterns. Proficiency is indicated
by a quick, accurate, and highly coordinated
performance, requiring a minimum of energy. This
category includes performing without hesitation, and
automatic performance. For example, players are
often utter sounds of satisfaction or expletives as
soon as they hit a tennis ball or throw a football,
because they can tell by the feel of the act what
the result will produce.
||Examples: Maneuvers a
car into a tight parallel parking spot. Operates a
computer quickly and accurately. Displays competence
while playing the piano.
builds, calibrates, constructs, dismantles,
displays, fastens, fixes, grinds, heats,
manipulates, measures, mends, mixes, organizes,
sketches. NOTE: The key words are the same as
Mechanism, but will have adverbs or adjectives that
indicate that the performance is quicker, better,
more accurate, etc.
|Adaptation: Skills are
well developed and the individual can modify
movement patterns to fit special requirements.
effectively to unexpected experiences. Modifies
instruction to meet the needs of the learners.
Perform a task with a machine that it was not
originally intended to do (machine is not damaged
and there is no danger in performing the new task).
Keywords: adapts, alters, changes, rearranges,
reorganizes, revises, varies.
new movement patterns to fit a particular situation
or specific problem. Learning outcomes emphasize
creativity based upon highly developed skills.
||Examples: Constructs a
new theory. Develops a new and comprehensive
training programming. Creates a new gymnastic
Keywords: arranges, builds, combines,
composes, constructs, creates, designs, initiate,
|As mentioned earlier, the committee did not
produce a compilation for the psychomotor domain model, but
others have. The one discussed above is by Simpson (1972).
There are two other popular versions:
R.H. Dave's (1970):
- Imitation: Observing and patterning behavior
after someone else. Performance may be of low quality.
Example: Copying a work of art.
- Manipulation: Being able to perform certain
actions by following instructions and practicing.
Example: Creating work on one's own, after taking
lessons, or reading about it.
- Precision: Refining, becoming more exact. Few
errors are apparent. Example: Working and reworking
something, so it will be "just right."
- Articulation: Coordinating a series of
actions, achieving harmony and internal consistency.
Example: Producing a video that involves music, drama,
color, sound, etc.
- Naturalization: Having high level performance
become natural, without needing to think much about it.
Examples: Michael Jordan playing basketball, Nancy Lopez
hitting a golf ball, etc.
- Involuntary movement - reaction
- Fundamental movements - basic movements
- Perception - response to stimuli
- Physical abilities - stamina that must be developed
for further development
- Skilled movements - advanced learned movements
- No discursive communication - effective body
Knowing the three types of learning and what they
represent will aid you when selecting learning strategies.