What Are Learning Domains? How They Help Define Learning?

Bloom's Taxonomy Yields Understanding For Educators

Many teachers approach learning from different approaches. But having a healthy knowledge of how Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning defines and expands on the learning domain approach is important for today's teacher.

First created in 1956, by Dr. Benjamin Bloom, the concept was created for academic learning in the beginning, but it is easily adapted for all different kinds of learning. His first foray into the subject was called "Taxonomy of Education and Objectives" and was started by Dr. Bloom in 1948.

Dr. Bloom was involved in a committee of different psychologists that specialize in Education in America. The committee was formed to try and come up with a better system of learning. The committee wanted to create categories of learning and learning behavior to assess and better design different types of educational learning.

The basic model for Dr. Bloom's system is made up three distinct parts. He refers to them in domains, and sometimes these three-part overlap. Dr. Bloom is an academic, and he uses language that is found in academia, but it is not too difficult to understand for the average person.

Dr. Bloom's system is made up of three parts or domains:

Cognitive- This is the part or domain that involves the mind and the intellect. It deals with thinking, and knowledge, and the ability of a person in intellectual pursuits.

Affective- This is the part that deals with a person and how they act and feel. Emotions, and feelings, and different behaviors such as a person's individual attitude are characteristic of this domain.

Psychomotor - This deals with the physical realm, manual skills, actions and physical skills.

Some people have tried to sum up these three domains by abbreviation. In doing this, a lot of what Dr. Bloom explored is lost. Some of the abbreviations used are such as Skills-Attitude-Knowledge, or "Do-then Think-then Feel" and others.

Dr. Blooms Taxonomy is based on the premise that each of the three domains are arraigned in order of the difficulty in which they exist. According to Dr. Bloom each different domain has to be conquered, or "mastered" before a person can move on to the next one.

Each of the domains involved have categories and levels within it. Each domain has these categories and as you go along the difficulty gets harder the further along that you go.

Each domain is set up in this sort of structure. It is in a matrix format, which allows a person to set up a template, or a checklist.

As a teacher, a person can use Bloom's Taxonomy to help design and set up different elements of what they are trying to teach. This method lends itself to a lot of different type of teaching structures.

In most cases, as a learner continues along the path of learning, they should realize a positive effect or benefit from each of these elements, usually in order:

Domain: Cognitive- Intellect and development of ones Knowledge

Domain: Affective- The beliefs and various attitudes in learning for a person

Domain: Psychomotor- Putting bodily and physical skill into action.

When he created his Taxonomy, Dr. Bloom was aiming at creating to further understanding and in support of education of an academic nature, but it is also transferable to other types and categories of learning. In the beginning, Dr. Bloom thought that Education in itself should have a primary focus on "Mastery" of different topics and concepts. He also felt education should be self-promoting, and lead to a gradual increase to higher kinds of learning and thinking.

He did not want learning to be merely a by rote approach, to simply have facts transferred back and forth in a utilitarian manner.

Dr. Bloom illustrated in his research years ago that a lot of teaching as we know it tends to be trained on recalling information, and transferring facts. He accurately pointed out that such learning is located at the lowest rung of the training level.

In his research Dr. Bloom points out that true learning is coupled with personal development in a meaningful manner. This is a huge challenge for teachers, and remains a central issue to overcome in approaching teaching.

Don't be intimidated by the Fancy Terms

Dr. Bloom and his research, his design of Domains appears to the outsider as something horribly complex. A lot of this can be traced to language.

At the simplest level, his terms can be boiled down. Taxonomy just means "a group of principals for classification or definition" Taxonomy can also be construed even more simply in one word: Structure. As for the term Domain it just means type or category.

The model that Dr. Bloom set up in his Taxonomy is fairly logical one. It has elements that can be adapted to the classroom, in setting up lesson plans that are scaffolded for different levels and in learning how to apply various educational standards and objectives. It is also one method to help define and judge the outcome of learning in the classroom

In its Simplest Terms Dr. Bloom's Taxonomy can be very simplistically summed up in a few sentences, ones that might be easier to help understand his model:

The Taxonomy model is a form of a defined checklist, and it helps design, assess, evaluate, and plan.

In the classroom, if you are aware and have a basic grasp of each of the three domains: Affective, Cognitive, and Psychomotor, and if you can see how each relates to elements of your teaching, then you will be able to use his model as tools to create effective learning.

If you design or construct any of your own curriculum using Dr. Bloom's work is helpful in not only the design and construction of your lessons. Rather, it is also very effective in helping to figure out if what you are teaching is getting through.

The Taxonomy model of Dr. Bloom is helpful as an assessment tool, and can be used to assess individual parts of a lesson plan, the progress of different students in a class or program, or to simply develop a successful lesson into a template to use again.