Bloom's dichotomous key: a new tool for evaluating the cognitive difficulty of assessments. Public Deposited

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  • ONE OF THE MORE WIDELY USED TOOLS to both inform course design and measure expert-like skills is Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives for the cognitive domain (2, 13, 22). This tool divides assessment of cognitive skills into six different levels: knowledge/remember, comprehension/understand, application/apply, analysis/analyze, synthesis/create, and evaluation/evaluate (2, 6). The first two levels are generally considered to represent lower levels of mastery (lower-order cognitive skills) and the last three represent higher-order levels of mastery involving critical thinking (higher-order cognitive skills) with apply-level questions often bridging the gap between the two (e.g., Refs. 5, 8, 10, 11, 23, and 24). While Bloom’s taxonomy is widely used by science educators, learning and mastering the concepts of the cognitive domain to categorize educational materials into the six levels identified in Bloom’s taxonomy are not trivial tasks. As with any complex task, experts and novices differ in the key abilities needed to cue into and evaluate information (4, 7, 9). Across disciplines, novices are less adept at noticing salient features and meaningful patterns, recognizing the context of applicability of concepts, and using organized conceptual knowledge rather than superficial cues to guide their decisions. Newer users of Bloom’s taxonomy demonstrate similar difficulties as they work to gain expertise, leading to inconsistencies in Bloom’s ratings (1, 8, 15) (see BDK Development for examples).
Date Issued
  • 2017-03-01
Academic Affiliation
Journal Title
Journal Issue/Number
  • 1
Journal Volume
  • 41
File Extent
  • 170-177
Last Modified
  • 2019-12-05
  • PubMed ID: 28235756
Resource Type
Rights Statement
  • 1522-1229