HR Management & Compliance, Learning & Development

Take a New Perspective on Training with Bloom’s Taxonomy

You may have regular training sessions, but is your target audience really learning the material? There are many methods and models when it comes to learning and retention, and today, we consider Bloom’s Taxonomy—and how you can use it to take a fresh look at how you train employees.

Named for educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom, there are six levels in the cognitive domain of the taxonomy. In the graphic below, the higher up the pyramid one advances, the closer he or she is to mastery of a subject.










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Let’s take a look at each of these six levels in closer detail, and the training implications of each:

  • Knowledge. This most basic level is simply the recall of specifics, generalities, methods, or processes.
    What it means for training: Trainees can simply remember the presented material. Now, some trainers may think this is enough—but how many times have employees broken rules/policies/protocols that they were aware of? A good memory does not mean good training.
  • Comprehension. Here, remembering is joined by understanding.
    What it means for training: The trainees grasp the MEANING of the material. Now we’re getting somewhere.
  • Application. At this level, abstractions can be used in particular real-world scenarios.
    What it means for training: Trainees can use what they’ve learned in new, diverse, concrete situations. Depending on the specific subject or role you’re training for, this could be the ultimate goal.

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  • Analysis. At the analysis level, the relative hierarchy of ideas is clear—and the relationships between them as well.
    What it means for training: The overall structure of the material is understood; trainees can break content into its constituent parts, determine how the parts relate to each other, and make inferences about the material.
  • Synthesis. Put simply, this level involves bringing elements together in order to form a whole.
    What it means for training: From their new skills and knowledge, trainees can compile the information in a different way (e.g., they can create plans related to the subject in question).
  • Evaluation. At the top of the cognitive taxonomy, judgments about the value of the material and methods are possible.
    What it means for training: Trainees are in the position to present and defend opinions of the training content. Now, you probably don’t need most employees to reach this level, but your trainers should—remember, you need to train the trainers as well!

Simulations (like through gamification or other hands-on techniques) can help move trainees up through the levels from simple recall into the higher aspects of learning application. How do your training materials and methods stand up? Do they help push employees to the learning mastery level they need in order to excel at their roles?