Training / Training Strategy

Study More Effectively with Bloom’s Hierarchy

by Team Nuggets
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Published on March 2, 2020

Bloom's Hierarchy, also known as Bloom's Taxonomy is a concept in educational psychology developed by Benjamin Bloom and colleagues in 1956. This framework has been used for decades at all levels of teaching from K-12 to college. Bloom's Hierarchy is important for people who are trying to learn new information, it represents a framework for the mechanisms by which new knowledge is acquired.

In this article, you will learn about Bloom's Hierarchy and why it's important for online learning. By understanding Bloom's Hierarchy, people studying for IT exams can study smarter and learn more to perform better on exams.

What is Bloom's Hierarchy?

Bloom's Hierarchy is a concept in educational psychology that was introduced in 1956 as a framework to better categorize educational objectives. It was recently updated in 2001 to move toward a more dynamic conceptualization of learning. The hierarchy is typically represented as a pyramid of different types of learning, with the most basic types at the base of the pyramid and the most complex, integrative learning at the top. Each level of the pyramid is represented with action words reflecting different cognitive processes that learners use to process and learn new information.

Image Source: Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching

At the very bottom of Bloom's Taxonomy pyramid is "Remember." This refers to recognition and recall, the most fundamental forms of learning. Next is "Understand," which reflects interpretation, classification, summary, inference, comparison, and being able to explain concepts. The next level in the hierarchy is "Apply," which refers to the ability to use information in new situations.

This is followed by "Analyze," which reflects the capability to synthesize information and connect different ideas. After "Analyze" is "Evaluate" – the ability to use critical thinking to argue for or against an idea, for example. Finally, at the top of the pyramid is "Create," meaning to produce new or original work.

Knowledge is the driving force behind all of these cognitive processes, of course, but the updated hierarchy also classifies knowledge as belonging to different categories: factual knowledge, conceptual knowledge, procedural knowledge, and metacognitive knowledge.

Bloom's Hierarchy helps establish and organize learning goals, and provides an organized set of learning objectives.

Active Versus Passive Learning

Active and passive learning are two different types of ways that knowledge can be learned. Active learning refers to the action involved in students participating in elements of a course that allows them to better absorb information.

Active learning, as its name implies, refers to anything that students do to interact with educational content, to improve their knowledge in the topic. This can include problem solving, participating in online discussions, and completing worksheets testing new knowledge.

On the other hand, passive learning refers to less active participation in learning, such as listening to lectures, taking notes, watching videos, or flipping through PowerPoint presentations.

Identify Your Learning Style for Optimal Information Retention

It may be helpful to identify your learning style in order to determine how you can maximally retain information. Auditory learners find that they learn best in an environment where they can listen to lectures, while visual learners may find visual presentations more effective. Tactile learners, by contrast, may do the best in laboratory-type courses that are more hands on in nature.

How to Effectively Self-Pace Your Learning

To be effective at self-paced learning, first take into consideration your learning style. If you are an auditory learner, it may be helpful to take notes while you listen to an online lecture. You can then read your notes aloud to promote an auditory style of learning.

If you are a visual learner, you may benefit from watching online videos. While useful for all learning types, tactile learners may find it particularly useful to perform labs or answer practice questions to supplement online content.

You can use Bloom's Taxonomy of objectives as a guide as you work your way through the learning process — checking to see where you are on the pyramid with respect to what you are learning.

Ideally, those involved in self-paced learning online will work their way from the bottom of the pyramid, recognition and recall, to the top of the pyramid based on existing knowledge that they have learned.

Online Video Training Through the Lens of the Bloom Hierarchy

While online video training seems like a passive form of learning, it can also refer to active learning. Students who online video training to study for IT certification exams can take quizzes, participate in discussions on message boards, and challenge themselves by completing online test questions. Passive learning in regard to online video training can include watching videos, browsing sample exam questions, and taking notes.

Remember to incorporate both active and passive learning in your exam preparation strategy. The most basic form of learning refers to the ability to recall facts and basic concepts (This is called "Remember" in the Bloom Hierarchy). Once you have a general familiarity with the basic concepts in the online curriculum, you can work on improving your understanding ("Understand" in Bloom's Hierarchy).

Improving your understanding of the material means that you should easily be able to explain the ideas or concepts. Once you start learning the material more thoroughly, you should be able to "Apply" this information to new situations. After you have reviewed the data and started achieving mastery of the material, you can work up the Bloom's Hierarchy to "Analyze" what you have learned. This means that you can draw connections among ideas. Different concepts can be compared and contrasted, and analyzed in detail.

The final two parts of Bloom's Hierarchy — the top of the pyramid — should be the goal in your studying efforts. In the "Evaluate" stage, you should be able to make an argument and support it with logical arguments based on your extensive knowledge of material. Finally, in "Create," you should be able to develop new, original work based on what you have learned.

Ideally, for video training, you will want to review the material — in a manner appropriate for your learning style — in order to maximize your ability to absorb the information. The best way to ensure that you work your way up Bloom's Hierarchy is to plan short, focused study sessions over a long period of time.

A second benefit of such long-term study plans is that a longer timeframe for studying for IT certification exams can help you learn more comprehensively, so that when test day arrives and you are faced with difficult questions integrating many concepts, these tough questions will be a breeze for you.

The Bottom Line

While it may seem complicated at first, Bloom's Taxonomy objectives are no more than a guiding framework to help learners achieve mastery of knowledge. Bloom's Hierarchy can be used by anyone seeking to prepare for IT cert exams as a model of learning. The framework defines the different stages of information retention and synthesis, also known as learning.

IT certification exam preparers should keep Bloom's Taxonomy of learning in mind when studying, and should also be aware of their learning style. In an online video curriculum environment, both active and passive learning are possible and both are needed for maximum information retention.

Familiarizing yourself with the educational psychology principles of Bloom's Hierarchy, different learning styles, and active and passive learning can help you do better on test day.


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