Treatsie Against Bloom’s Taxonomy Infographics

I am a huge fan of infographics. I think it goes back to my Father being a reader of USA TODAY. I loved the little graphs in the left hand corner.

Maybe that is why I get such an ill-feeling when I see how quickly all the Bloom’s Taxonomy and (insert any tech tool here) are retweeted.

Sure they look pretty.

They even highlight some of my favorite tools.

Yet I feel they do a disservice by discounting the role of the teacher. They perpetuate the idea that simply introducing technology will transform education.
Technology transforms society. It is a matter if education will catch up, and all the pretty graphics will never get us there.


Technology as a Text

The focus on technology must be a recognition on the new texts that are created and not simply the tools. Lets take an example from above in the pyramid. Flickr is listed in remembering (a L.O.T. and prezi is in Creating a (H.O.T).
The placement of the tool on the infographic should be malleable by the instructor. Instead of asking what tool should I use to increase the level of creative and analytical thinking teachers should ask, “What is my pedagogical goal? How do I want to enhance my pedagogical goal?”
If I wanted my students to develop an awareness of social justice issues they could look through flickr about current events, analyze the perspectives in photos, and maybe even leave comments. They could go one step further and go out and collect photos on a social justice issue that interests them and share the pics with the world.
These events involve more creativity and analytical writing than a prezi on one of the 50 states.
Simply put when it comes to technology transforming education the tool is the least important element. It begins with a teacher, a pedagogical goal, and a recognition that reading and writing constantly shift.

Stripping away of Knowledge

I am glad that educators are using Krathwol’s team’s Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy but these infographics remove an important element. Krathwol and his team separated knowledge from doing. There are very specific ways different content areas approach technology. These infographics ignore that fact.

Stripping away the Social

Bloom’s taxonomy comes from a strong cognitive background. The idea being that learning involves a series of internal processes and the storage of memories. There are competing learning theories that focus on the social nature of learning.
These infographics spread the idea that learning involves one student. Yet the greatest advantage new digital texts and tools provide is their collaborative nature. The greatest challenge is recognizing the new proficiencies and dispositions these DT&T require.

Use with Caution

Am I saying never use these infographics. Of course not. They are great evangelical and Public Relations Tool. Just do not use them to justify or make any pedagogical decisions. That’s just silly.

Also published on Medium.

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Greg McVerry

Greg McVerry is a teacher, researcher and scholar at Southern Connecticut State University.

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1 Response

  1. Jim Lerman says:

    Greg, you are right when you say what’s commonly called Bloom’s Taxonomy is really about cognition. And you are also right when you caution against the further reduction and simplification of his complex theoretical work from volumes to its utilitarian use as a simple chart, or tool.

    Bloom actually called it the taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain. In 1959, Bloom and his team posited a conceptual framework that there were 3 domains of learning: Cognitive, Affective, and Psychomotor. They considered the 3 to be equally important and interdependent. They wrote extensively about the Cognitive domain, comparatively little about the Affective (where what we call today Social and Emotional Learning would largely fit), and not much at all about the Psychomotor.
    Furthermore, Bloom approached the taxonomies largely from the point of view of assessment, not pedagogy. Bloom’s taxonomies were intended as a conceptual framework for approaching the assessment of learning, not a tool for designing instruction. They have been subverted and repurposed, much to the detriment of our and our children’s education.

    The Cognitive domain fits so neatly into the modern (1950’s onward) standardized, test-driven environment that focuses primarily on recall and regurgitation of content, rather than inclusion of creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication. Considerations of the whole child in schooling are lost. Perhaps this emphasis on content over development of human potential is what contributes in great measure to the convenience, longevity, and continuing popularity of “Bloom’s Taxonomy” as an instructional tool in first world, Western schools.

    I recently read a piece about Paulo Freire that takes this consideration much deeper. You and your readers might find it interesting if you haven’t seen it already.

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