Mind Mapping and Bloom’s Taxonomy


Taxonomy

Strangely, the first question I get when talking about Bloom’s taxonomy is: ‘What is a taxonomy?’ This is typical of Bloom’s studies. It was an academic exercise, done by academics in Higher Education. The words used are therefore not those used in everyday vocabulary.

This article aims to make things a bit easier for you, as there is great benefit in knowing the different levels of human thinking so that you can incorporate it in your learning. There is also great merit in knowing how Mind Maps naturally allow you to apply the principles of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Oh yes, before I continue:  Simply put, taxonomy is the practice and science of classification.

And Bloom’s taxonomy is the classification of learning objectives within education. The title of this article could therefore have been: ‘Mind Mapping and Bloom’s classification of learning objectives within education.’

While it was actually a group of academics that developed the taxonomy, it has become synonymous with Bloom, who was the group leader.

To apply Bloom’s Taxonomy, you first have to get an idea what the taxonomy is all about.

The domains (Categories)

I started out this article by trying to cover the whole taxonomy with detail, but soon realised that it was asking to much from you, the reader, to digest in one session. It will therefore be covered in a few articles. This one, an overview of the taxonomy, followed by an article on each one of the three learning categories.

Bloom classified learning into three categories:

  • Affective: growth in feelings or emotional areas (Attitude)
  • Cognitive: mental skills
    (Knowledge)
  • Psychomotor: manual or physical skills (Skills)

I’ve noticed that many documents and writings on Bloom’s taxonomy cover the six levels of cognitive learning. This is natural, as it is naturally applies to the classroom situation, which traditionally focuses on the acquiring of (cognitive) knowledge. Also, Bloom’s main focus was the cognitive domain.

While this goes a long way in improving the learning process, it is a very narrow view. Mind Maps can actually help you incorporate all three categories into your learning and therefore provides you with a more holistic learning process. There is as much value in the process as there is in the outcome.

Before we dive into the details of the three categories, you need to first understand the three categories and the role they play in your learning process.

1. Affective skills (Attitude)

This is often nicknamed ‘attitude’ in summaries of Bloom’s taxonomy (probably due to the popular acronym ‘KSA’, knowledge, skills and attitude, used for Bloom’s taxonomy.)

Attitude is just one component of affective skills. To describe this category more accurately:

Skills in the affective domain describe the way people react emotionally and their ability to feel another living thing’s pain or joy.

Affective objectives typically target the awareness and growth in attitudes, emotion, and feelings.

There are five levels in the affective domain, which can be ranked from in order of complexity:

Receiving
This is the lowest level. The student passively pays attentions. Bloom believed that without this, no learning can occur.

Responding
The learner actively participates in the learning process. Not only does the learner receive the stimulus, she also reacts in some way.

Valuing
The student attaches a value to an object, phenomenon, or piece of information.

Organizing
The student can put together different values, information, and ideas and combine this with their own ideas.

Characterizing
The student holds a particular value or belief that now exerts influence on his/her own behaviour. It is internalized so that it becomes a characteristic.

2. Cognitive skills (Knowledge)

Skills in the cognitive domain revolve around knowledge, comprehension, and critical thinking of a particular topic. Traditional education tends to emphasize the skills in this domain, particularly the lower-order objectives.

There are six levels in the cognitive taxonomy. These are the ones most commonly associated with Bloom.

Moving through the lowest order processes to the highest:

Knowledge
Exhibit memory of previously-learned materials by recalling facts, terms, basic concepts and answers.

Comprehension
Demonstrate understanding of facts and ideas by organizing, comparing, translating, interpreting, giving descriptions, and stating main ideas.

Application
Using new knowledge. Solve problems to new situations by applying acquired knowledge, facts, techniques and rules in a different way.

Analysis
Examine and break information into parts by identifying motives or causes. Make inferences and find evidence to support generalizations.

Synthesis
Compile information together in a different way by combining elements in a new pattern or proposing alternative solutions.

Evaluation
Present and defend opinions by making judgments about information, validity of ideas or quality of work based on a set of criteria.

3. Psychomotor (Skills)

Skills in the psychomotor domain describe the ability to physically manipulate a tool or instrument like a hand or a hammer.

Psychomotor objectives usually focus on changing and developing behavior and skills.

Bloom and his colleagues never created subcategories for skills in the psychomotor domain, but since then other educators have created their own psychomotor taxonomies. I will cover them in the Psychomotor article.

Conclusion

This article just serves to introduce you to the domains, or categories, in Bloom’s taxonomy.  I will cover each of these domains over the next few weeks and also show you how Mind Maps can help you develop each of the domains in your own life.

You will see that by simply creating Mind Map notes of the subject you are learning, you naturally incorporate the domains in the learning process.

Yet again, it is another demonstration that Mind Maps naturally complement the way the brain works.

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