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Bloom's Taxonomy & More

Student learning outcomes state in specific behavioral terms the minimum skills students should be able to demonstrate at the conclusion of the course or program or after having received a particular service.

  • The format typically begins with the phrase "Upon completion of this course or program or service the student will be able to:" with a list of those expectations following.
  • Action verbs will follow the above statement to complete the SLO. Example: "Upon completion of this program, a student will be able to analyze the impacts of human civilization on coastal processes and structures."

Whether writing course-level, program-level, or service-level outcomes, here are some suggested guidelines:

  • Focus on student behavior
  • Ensure an outcome is reasonable for student abilities
  • Use simple, specific action verbs
  • Ensure language is clear and easily understood 
  • Ensure outcome is measurable (can be observed and tested)
  • Identify an assessment method
  • State the desired performance criteria
  • Align with the key concepts of the course and/or program or the key goals of the service

Verbs for Cognitive Outcomes

Incorporating Critical Thinking

The following cognitive areas are listed in increasing order of higher-order thinking:

KNOWLEDGE -- The ability to recognize and recall facts and figures

define, distinguish, identify, inquire, label, list, match, memorize, name, recall, recognize, record, relate, repeat, select, underline

COMPREHENSION -- The ability to interpret, translate, summarize or paraphrase given information. Knowledge is required.

change, comment, demonstrate, describe, discuss, explain, express, generalize, give example, identify, illustrate, infer
interpret, locate, rearrange, recognize, report, restate, review, summarize, tell, transform

APPLICATION -- The ability to use information in a situation different than the original learning context. Comprehension is required.

apply, calculate, choose, classify, demonstrate, dramatize, employ, generalize, illustrate, interpret, operate, organize, practice, reconstruct, schedule, shop, sketch, solve, transfer, translate, use

Incorporating Critical Thinking

The following cognitive areas are sometimes listed in the following order to indicate increasing order of higher-order thinking and sometimes listed all three together at the same level.

UC/CSU schools require a majority of the outcomes demonstrate critical thinking.

ANALYSIS – The ability to separate a whole into its parts until the relationships between elements are clear. The ability to perform analysis requires the ability to apply information.

analyze, appraise, calculate, categorize, classify, compare, contrast, criticize, debate, deduce, describe, diagram, differentiate, discriminate, distinguish, examine, experiment, inspect, interpret, inventory, question, relate, solve, test, translate

SYNTHESIS -- The ability to combine elements to form an original entity. Synthesis requires analysis.

arrange, assemble, collect, compose, construct, create, design, formulate, integrate, manage, organize, plan, predict, prepare, produce, propose, set up, solve, summarize

EVALUATION -- The ability to make decisions, judge, or make selections based on criteria and rationale. Evaluation requires synthesis.

appraise, assess, choose, compare, conclude, consider, criticize, estimate, evaluate, judge, measure, rate, revise, score, select, value, weigh


Bloom's Taxonomy Revision (Iowa State University)
Revised Bloom's Taxonomy


Examples of Active Critical Thinking Verbs in SLOs

Many existing course outlines have outcomes that do not reflect the "active verbs" conveying critical thinking. It is usually the case that the course itself is taught in a way that incorporates critical thinking, but the course outline itself does not reflect those outcomes and methodologies. Bringing the outcomes into line is primarily a matter of reflection on the part of the faculty who teach the course upon those outcomes that require analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Some "before and after" examples are shown below.

BEFORE: Know the significant art achievements of Renaissance through Modern Europe.

AFTER: Compare and contrast the art works in the same historical period with art works from other historical periods to ascertain their stylistic aesthetic and historical relationships.

BEFORE: Have learned skills in performing and in working with others to create a theatrical event for children.

AFTER: Analyze a text in preparation for rehearsals, including the choice of style, language, and pace.

Critique their own performances and rehearsals using a collectively decided upon matrix. Share these critiques with members of the ensemble in appropriate, culturally sensitive ways.


Verbs for Affective Outcomes

Noncredit and Community Service. Affective Verbs are not part of Bloom’s Taxonomy and are not to be used for credit courses. These verbs are for use with noncredit courses and community service offerings only.

Noncredit courses and community service offerings may also use verbs from Bloom’s Taxonomy (above cognitive outcomes) as desired.

CHARACTERIZATION – Ability to act consistently in accordance with values the student has internalized.


ORGANIZING– Ability to conceptualize values in abstract or symbolic terms. Ability to organize a value system.

codify, discriminate, display, favor, judge, order, organize, relate, systematize, weigh

VALUING – Ability to accept a value as a belief, to indicate a preference for a value, to make a commitment.

balance, believe, defend, devote, examine, prefer, pursue, seek, value

RESPONDING – Ability to react to a suggestion, ability to respond and achieve satisfaction in response.

behave, complete, comply, cooperate, enjoy, examine, obey, observe, respond, tolerate

RECEIVING – Ability to focus on subject matter concepts

accept, attend, develop, realize, receive, recognize  


Verbs for Psychomotor Outcomes

Noncredit and Community Service. Psychomotor Verbs are not part of Bloom’s Taxonomy and are not to be used for credit courses. These verbs are for use with noncredit courses and community service offerings only.

Noncredit courses and community service offerings may also use verbs from Bloom’s Taxonomy (above cognitive outcomes) as desired.

ORIGINATION – Ability to create new physical objects.

construct, create, design, produce

Adaptation – Ability to modify physical objects

adapt, build, change, develop, supply

Complex Overt Response – Ability to perform a physical activity with a high degree of skill.

calibrate, coordinate, maintain, operate

Mechanism – Ability to operate of physical objects.

adjust, build, illustrate, indicate, manipulate, mix, set up

Guided Response – Ability to react to changes in physical

objects, copy, demonstrate, determine, discover, duplicate, imitate, inject, repeat

Set – Ability to change physical objects

adjust, locate, physically place, position, prepare

Perception – Ability to react appropriately to the outside world.

distinguish, hear, recognize, relate, see, sense, smell, taste, touch