Learning objectives: Bloom’s taxonomy

Bloom’s taxonomy for writing learning objectives with systematized, active verbs that describe a progression of knowledge, skills and abilities.

Learning outcomes can be written for different levels, from simpler to more complex forms of knowledge, understanding and ability.

Knowledge taxonomies are a way of systematically describing a progression of knowledge, skills, abilities and attitudes, from simpler ones to increasingly complex and composed ones. Verbs that are included in course learning objectives together with descriptions of knowledge content, are taken from different taxonomies.

A very widespread one is Bloom’s taxonomy, which dates from the mid-1950s. It is available in several revised versions, including by Krathwohl (2002). The university’s instructions for writing syllabi propose a developed version of Bloom’s taxonomy from Grönlund (1995, See also the table below). It contains good examples of active verbs sorted in a progression order. But it is not to be seen as a compulsory, limited collection. It is thus possible to use other systematizations.

Bloom’s taxonomy contains four knowledge dimensions, factual knowledge, concept knowledge, procedural knowledge and metacognitive knowledge, which in turn have subdivisions.

In uses of Bloom’s taxonomy, a pyramid is sometimes used to describe the different levels of knowledge development. They are all dependent on each other and levels in the base of the pyramid can thus not be seen as less important. Remembering basic concepts and their meanings and being able to describe and name them is a prerequisite for understanding, analysis, valuation and innovation.

Other descriptions of Bloom’s taxonomy contain suggestions for active verbs that can be used in the design of learning objectives, but also as a basis for assessment and examinations. Assessments should focus on examining whether the student can perform the expected actions on the course content. It is important that the verbs are used so that they describe what the students should be able to do and not just be picked from the taxonomies’ lists. The verb redogöra (report) can according to discussions with academic teachers mean explain, describe, etc.. The question is, “What do I really want the students to be able to do?”

Active verbs

Adapted from Grönlund (1995) (From Anvisning vid skrivande av kursplaner på grundnivå och avancerad nivå – Instructions for writing syllabuses at undergraduate and advanced level; only in Swedish)

Fact knowledgeUnderstandingApplicationAnalysisSynthesisValuation
ListGive examplesSolvePoint outConstructDefend
LocateReport onModifyReflectModifyCompare
SelectDevelopDiscoverPick outSummarizeRelate
  Show CreateSupport
    Think outTake a stand
    Work outEvaluate


Anvisning vid skrivande av kursplaner på grundnivå och avancerad nivå (Instructions for writing syllabuses at the undergraduate and advanced level) (Only in Swedish)
(See Inslaget > Dokumenthörnan > NAVIGERA i Dokumenthörnan > Mallar, blanketter och manualer > under the heading Utbildningsadministration).

Gronlund, N. E. (1995). How to write and use instructional objectives. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Krathwohl, D. R. (2002). A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy: An overview. Theory into practice, 41(4), 212–218.