In part 1 and part 2 of this series, we explored how the professional development designed by the Great Books Foundation incorporates adult learning principles and practices, taking into account the theories of Jean Piaget and Malcolm Knowles. In this installment, we will look at the work of Benjamin Bloom and the committee he chaired.

In 1956, Bloom and a group of collaborators formulated a framework for describing educational objectives. This became known as Bloom’s Taxonomy. The taxonomy is organized by the domains cognitive, affective, and psychomotor, which each have a hierarchy. Since the affective domain concerns attitudes and the psychomotor consists of skills, we won’t spend much time exploring those hierarchies, but we will delve deeply into the cognitive domain. Originally the hierarchy was organized as below:

In 2001, the taxonomy was revised to be what is currently in use:

The new terms can be defined as follows:

  • Remembering – retrieving relevant knowledge from long-term memory
  • Understanding – constructing meaning from instructional messages, including oral, written, and graphic communication
  • Applying – carrying out or using a procedure in a given situation
  • Analyzing – breaking material into its constituent parts and determining how the parts relate to one another and to an overall structure or purpose
  • Evaluating – making judgments based on criteria and standards
  • Creating – putting elements together to form a coherent or functional whole; reorganizing elements into a new pattern or structure1

Describing what learners and teachers are doing in the classroom has a place, but how do we utilize this taxonomy to promote quality in professional development for teachers? When designing a learning event, it is best to plan that the level of instruction is matched to the level of learner performance or expectations. In the professional development courses offered at the Great Books Foundation, we move up through the hierarchy throughout the training course. Our trainers work to build the knowledge base necessary for the creation and implementation of successful inquiry-based learning classrooms.

While it is not necessary to incorporate all of Bloom’s levels in one training course, the Great Books Foundation’s courses do move learners from lower-order thinking to higher-order thinking during the training course. The chart below demonstrates the activities incorporated in training courses designed by the Great Books educational professionals.

Activities Incorporated in Great Books Training Courses

Bloom’s Level Applied to Professional Development Standards (not an exclusive list)
Remembering The training courses start to build the participant’s knowledge (and confidence) by activating prior knowledge and providing opportunities for teachers to be the experts in their students’ needs. Learning Forward
Understanding As teachers become more familiar with Shared Inquiry, instructors will ask teachers to express their understanding of the practices. Asking teachers to articulate why Shared Inquiry benefits students will help them to understand the method and make it their own. Illinois DOE Professional Development Standards
Applying Teachers can practice the skills necessary to lead Shared Inquiry in their classrooms. California Department of Education Quality Professional Learning Standards
Analyzing Through video and small group work, the participants will view and comment on the use of Shared Inquiry. The learner will be able to make informed decisions about the next steps when presented with learner behaviors. Georgia Department of Education Professional Learning
Evaluating Throughout the course, teachers are encouraged to evaluate which activities and texts would be most productive in their learning environments. New Jersey DOE Professional Learning Standards
Creating During the training course, teachers are taught how to use the materials and methods to create learning opportunities. New York DOE Professional Development Standards
  1. Lorin W. Anderson and David R. Krathwohl, eds., A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (New York: Pearson, 2001).

Discover the Benefits of Great Books Professional Development

All Great Books professional development helps educators learn, practice, and master the Shared Inquiry method. Teachers gain new ways to teach: they learn to ask better prepared and spontaneous questions and to release responsibility to students as they engage in active inquiry. Our experienced trainers have helped thousands of educators use this method with Junior Great Books materials and other curricula. Contact your Great Books K–12 partnership manager to discuss training for educators in your setting!