Benjamin Bloom’s Learning Objectives Taxonomy: Cognitive (Knowledge), Psychomotor (Skills), and Affective (Attitudes)


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[This is the fifth in a series of posts about learning objectives. We’ve now compiled all the posts into a single downloadable guide to writing learning objectives if you want to check that out.]

If you search the Internet for “learning objectives,” you’ll run into the name Benjamin Bloom quickly enough.

That’s because Bloom gave us a handy way to think of different kinds of learning and the learning objectives to write for each. It’s not the only way, and it’s been revised by his followers since he developed it originally, but it’s a help when you’re writing your objectives.

Before we begin explaining his theories to you (over the next four blog posts), take a moment and think of learning. Is all learning alike, or do we sometimes learn different “kinds” of things? For example, consider learning how materials flow through a machine, learning how to weld a metal seam, and learning why it’s important to follow safety rules. Are these the same kinds of learning, or are they different?

If you agree that we learn different types of things, you’re halfway to understanding Bloom’s three “domains” of learning and learning objectives.

Once you’ve read all this stuff on Bloom’s learning objectives for different types of learning, you may also find our Different Types of Training for Different Types of Learning article interesting.

Bloom’s Three Domains (or Categories) of Learning and Learning Objectives

Bloom created what’s called a “taxonomy” of learning, breaking learning objectives down into three “domains.”

He called them cognitive, psychomotor, and affective. In more commonly used terms, you can think of them as knowledge, skills, and attitudes.

Let’s look at each below.

The Cognitive Domain of Learning Objectives, or Knowledge

Bloom called this the “Cognitive” domain, but we’ll stick with conversational language and call it knowledge.

This includes things like recalling or recognizing facts, understanding concepts, using concepts in new circumstances, and more.

Click here to learn more about the so-called “cognitive” learning objectives, or just continue reading the linked articles in this series.

You might also find this article on Helping Employees Understand Basic Job Knowledge helpful as well.

The Psychomotor Domain of Learning Objectives, or Skills

Bloom called this the “Psychomotor” domain, but we think “skills” rolls off the tongue a little better. This includes physical skills and abilities. You can think of it as job tasks.

Click here to learn more about psychomotor learning objectives.

You might also find this article on Helping Employees Learn Basic Job Tasks and Procedures helpful, too.

The Affective Domain of Learning Objectives, or Attitudes

Bloom called this the “Affective” domain. It includes values, feelings, motivations, and more.

Click here to learn more about affective learning objectives.

Why Is There a Taxonomy of Learning Objectives?

So what’s the point, you ask? Well, your goal as a training developer is to help people learn. To do that, it’s a good idea to begin by identifying the type of learning the learners will do. Is it something they’ll think/know/understand, a skill or ability they’ll develop, or an emotion or value you want them to hold? Identifying the category (or domain) of learning can help you write your learning objective correctly. In particular, it will help you choose the “behavior” or “verb” part of the objective (see our ABCDs of Learning Objectives post if this isn’t familiar).

And that leads us to the teaser for our three posts about each of these domains and our free guide to creating learning objectives.

For the three posts, just click the links a little higher in this article.

You might also find any of these other articles learning objectives helpful:

For the free guide to creating learning objectives, just click the button immediately below.

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How to Write Learning Objectives

Get this free guide to learn all you need to know to write learning objectives, create better training, and help improve workplace performance.

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