Spring Blooms Eternal

Note: I served on the ISPI Board of Directors with Brenda back in 2000-2001. I had seen her original presentation on Bloom’s Taxonomy at ISPI, leading to a series of articles – the first back in ISPI’s News & Notes – a copy of which I have over on my website – here.

I was a big fan of her comment:

The Pure Performance Alternative
A more radical approach would be to have no taxonomy at all, to simply assume that all objectives are at the use level (i.e., “performance” objectives) and that learners will practice or be assessed on the particular performance in representative task situations. If there are “enabling” sub-objectives, those too can be treated as performance objectives without further classification….

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Here is a follow up by Brenda – published in Learning Solutions in 2013 – here.


When writing performance objectives, you can use a simple verbs table (Table 1). Use the verb that describes the task as the verb for the performance objective. For example, if the task is to assemble a bicycle, then the verb is “assemble.” If the task is to decide between physical therapy and surgery for patients with lower back injuries, then the verb is “decide.” The verb “decide” works for any decision task.

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But Wait – There’s More

From Harold Jarche in 2004 – here.

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Donald Clark Plan B – weighs in back in 2006 – here.

OK, let’s have a look at another 50 year old theory! Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy of educational objectives publishedin 1956, set in train 50 years of dull ‘taxonomy’ with his three domains:

Cognitive (knowledge)
Psychomotor (skills)
Affective (attitude)

OK, it was a start. Unfortunately, this is about as far as most people get. They rarely dig deeper into his further six levels in the cognitive, six different aspects of psychomotor skills and his rather useless three types of affective.

Sliced and diced
Since then we’ve had dozens of taxonomies which sliced and diced in all sorts of ways. We’ve had Biggs, Wills, Bateson, Belbin and dozens more. The problem with taxonomies is their attempt to pin down the complexity of cognition in a list of simple categories. In practice, learning doesn’t fall into these neat divisions. It’s a much more complex and messier set of cognitive processes.

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And from Connie Malamed – here.

Alternatives to Bloom’s Taxonomy for Workplace Learning

The Key Criticisms

Many learning professionals continue to use and benefit from Bloom’s taxonomy and the newer revised version. Bloom thought the taxonomy created a “common language about learning goals to facilitate communication across persons, subject matter, and grade levels” (Krathwohl, 2002). However, it is valuable to know there are other taxonomies that might better fit your work and philosophy. Also, it’s helpful to be aware of the criticisms of the original and revised taxonomies. 

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And a video from Alex Salas…

This video is 44:41 minutes in length.

Dr. Lorin Anderson is the author of the 2001 Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy and he goes off-the-cuff to clarify the many misconceptions instructional designers may have about how to properly use the taxonomy. This is the first of a two-part episode which covers the origins and need for establishing the taxonomy.


One thought on “Spring Blooms Eternal

  1. Guy, I too loved her ‘pure performance’ objective approach, and it’s been implicit (and occasionally explicit 😉 ) in my approach. I also like that her other approach aligns with the KLI model as well. Either, in my mind, makes more sense than any other I’ve seen.

    Liked by 1 person

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