Educators around the world understand the impact and usage of Bloom’s Taxonomy on the writing of curriculum, in fact, most U.S. schools and courses use the model, which emphasizes and develops students’ critical thinking skills. However, it may be interesting for you to learn how this model is translated into online high school courses such as those offered by the University of Nebraska High School (UNHS).

Bloom’s Taxonomy was designed by Benjamin Bloom in the 1940s and 50s to be a holistic guide for education; one that helps educators encourage critical thinking and problem solving skills for their students. It is based on six tiers of learning:

  • Evaluation: Judgement
  • Synthesis: Putting things together; Creative thinking
  • Analysis: Breaking things down; Critical thinking
  • Application: Using knowledge in a new situation
  • Comprehension: Understanding
  • Knowledge: Recall

Throughout each UNHS course these steps are used—as a whole and specifically—to build knowledge.

"At this point in curriculum writing and education, Bloom’s Taxonomy is the norm—it is the expected method to use in the writing of courses no matter what subject,” said Judy Montgomery, UNHS Assistant Director of Curriculum. “The purpose is to provide students with the tools they need to find their answers."

The overall structure of each course promotes a students’ understanding of content and use of the material to build knowledge. Just reading or memorizing does not build knowledge, it has to be more engrained than that.

For example, in UNHS’ chemistry course students read the materials, answer specific Skill Builder questions and complete Self Check activities that help them process the information. They are then required to perform lab activities in which they apply what they have learned and analyze the outcomes. Finally, unit evaluations and progress tests evaluate students by asking them to recall, analyze and synthesize what they have learned.

"What many people don’t know is that these steps can be used in various orders and in a variety of ways,” Montgomery said. “We can ask students to synthesis and apply material at the same time through a project, or we can ask them to evaluate content within one question of an exam while asking them to recall in another.

“The point is that they are being provided the opportunity to do so throughout the entire course—that we are focusing our attention as we create courses on all steps so students can earn the best possible outcome, which is knowledge."

It is this expert use of Bloom’s Taxonomy in the writing and design of UNHS courses that allows students to prepare for and be successful in their post-secondary education.

"We hear time and time again from students who are now in college that our courses taught them, not only content, but how to approach their learning to be successful. They have learned how to think critically, so they are ready for the rigors of college."
Debby Bartz, UNHS academic adviser