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What does Bloom’s mean for early programming activities?

Bloom’s is probably the most commonly recognised taxonomy, with a hierarchy of cognitive skills. How can you apply it to early programming activities?
It’s time for you to apply what you’ve learned in an observation task. In a moment, you’re going to watch a video of a group of year 1 students creating a dance for two Bee-Bot floor robots. Using the table of verbs in the article below, write down what verbs describe the thinking, actions, and collaboration that takes place to achieve the task. Take some time to reflect on how these relate to the categories of cognitive processes. Did the children move up the pyramid of Bloom’s Taxonomy? How could you help your learners make this journey? [ROBOTS BEEPING]
OK, we ready to press go now? Let’s see if they both see the same thing. OK, right. So get ready to go. Ready? 3, 2, 1, go. [ROBOTS BEEPING]
Bloom’s is probably the most commonly recognised taxonomy, with a hierarchy of cognitive skills.

Anderson and Krathwohl updated this taxonomy in 2001 (A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: Complete Edition) with active, verb-based categories to describe the cognitive processes learners encounter:

  • Create: produce new or original work
  • Evaluate: justify a stand or a decision
  • Analyse: draw connections between ideas
  • Apply: use information in new situations
  • Understand: explain ideas or concepts
  • Remember: recall facts and basic concepts

Pyramid consisting of six layers, labelled from top to bottom as create, evaluate, analyse, apply, understand & remember

In the video above, a group of year one (age 5-6) children created a dance for two Bee-Bot floor robots. Using the verbs in the table below as a starting point, write down verbs that describe the thinking, actions, and collaboration that take place to achieve the task. Reflect on how these relate to the categories of cognitive processes. Did the children move “up” the pyramid? How could you assist your learners in making this journey?

Bloom’s verbs

Remember Understand Apply Analyse Evaluate Create
define duplicate list memorise repeat state classify describe discuss explain identify locate recognise repeat select translate execute implement solve use demonstrate interpret operate schedule sketch differentiate organise relate compare contrast distinguish examine experiment question test appraise argue defend judge select support value critique weigh design assemble construct conjecture develop formulate author investigate

Note: There are other verbs that could be used for each level of cognition. We have deliberately included some words in more than one section, as some actions are part of more than one level of understanding.

The pyramid image above is the one associated with Bloom’s taxonomy, but we need to consider the parallel taxonomy that was added when it was revised. This sets out the four types of knowledge that are used in cognition: factual, conceptual, procedural, and metacognitive. The definitions below are taken from The Second Principle.

Knowledge dimensions defined

  • Factual knowledge is knowledge that is basic to specific disciplines. This dimension refers to essential facts, terminology, details, or elements students must know or be familiar with in order to understand a discipline or solve a problem. What knowledge of the Bee-Bots are the pupils using? What knowledge of vocabulary do they use to collaborate together?
  • Conceptual knowledge is knowledge of classifications, principles, generalisations, theories, models, or structures pertinent to a particular subject area. Which concepts do the pupils make use of to achieve the outcome?
  • Procedural knowledge refers to information or knowledge that helps students to do something specific to a discipline, subject, or area of study. It also refers to methods of enquiry, very specific or finite skills, algorithms, techniques, and particular methodologies. How do the pupils plan the process to achieve the outcome? How would you guide them through this as the teacher?
  • Metacognitive knowledge is the awareness of one’s own cognition and particular cognitive processes. It is strategic or reflective knowledge about how to go about solving problems or cognitive tasks, and includes contextual and conditional knowledge and knowledge of self. What questions could you use to prompt the pupils to recognise the understanding they have demonstrated?

Use these to reflect on the types of knowledge the children would have used during the Bee-Bot activity, and what you might do as a teacher to ensure they are using all four dimensions of knowledge.


You can now use your understanding of Bloom’s taxonomy to review your own teaching. Have a look at some of the lessons you have planned or taught and review your learning objectives or success criteria. Have you used Bloom’s verbs, and if so, from which section of the taxonomy? Which of the knowledge dimensions apply? Are there any verbs you would now change? Add your thoughts in the comments section.

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