A. Bloom's Taxonomy
Questions (items) on quizzes and exams can demand different levels
of thinking skills. For example, some questions might be simple
memorization of facts, and others might require the ability to synthesize
information from several sources to select or construct a response. Benjamin
Bloom created a hierarchy of cognitive skills (called Bloom's
taxonomy) that is often used to categorize the levels of cognitive
involvement (thinking skills) in educational settings. The taxonomy
provides a good structure to assist teachers in writing objectives
and assessments. It can be divided into two levels -- Level I
(the lower level) contains knowledge, comprehension and application;
Level II (the higher level) includes application, analysis, synthesis,
and evaluation (see the diagram below).
Figure 1. Bloom's Taxonomy.
Bloom's taxonomy is also used to guide the development
of standardized assessments. For example, in Florida, about 65%
of the questions on the statewide reading test (FCAT) are designed
to measure Level II thinking skills (application, analysis, synthesis,
and evaluation). To prepare students for these standardized tests,
classroom assessments must also demand both Level I and II thinking
skills. Integrating higher level skills into instruction and assessment
increases the likelihood that students will succeed on tests and
become better problem solvers.
Sometimes objective tests (such as multiple choice) are criticized
because the questions emphasize only lower-level thinking skills
(such as knowledge and comprehension). However, it is possible to
address higher level thinking skills via objective assessments by
including items that focus on genuine understanding -- "how"
and "why" questions. Multiple choice items that involve
scenarios, case studies, and analogies are also effective for requiring
students to apply, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information