Educational Objectives for eLearning – Bloom-Anderson Taxonomy

Sound design of educational software stems from the science of multimedia instruction. Multimedia instruction is a type of instruction where the teacher exposes the student to a carefully constructed environment of words, images, and sounds, in order to foster learning (Mayer, 2014). Therefore, just as in the case of any type of project that targets learning, instructional designers should start off by writing the educational objectives for each learning unit, be it a digital lesson, a game, an online course, etc.
What are learning objectives?
According to an instructional design guru, a learning objective is an intended change in the learner’s knowledge (Mayer, 2014). We should identify the desired changes in the student knowledge during the needs analysis phase of the project. For example, we may want to teach basics of multiplications to 3rd grade students. Hence, after having gone through the digital lesson, a 3rd grader should be able to multiply correctly with one digit numbers. We can only observe the change in behavior, i.e. in this case: being able to multiply versus not being able to multiply; hence the educational objectives are always correlated with the assessment activities planned – in most cases – for the end of the learning unit.
How are learning objectives classified?
In 1956, Benjamin Bloom and his team have classified the learning activities into three domains: - The cognitive domain comprises learning activities that grow into knowledge and, implicitly, develop cognitive structures; - The affective domain comprises learning activities that foster growth in feelings and emotional areas; - The psychomotor domain of physical skills The famous Bloom’s Taxonomy classifies the activities related to the cognitive domain into six major categories: Knowledge; Comprehension; Application; Analysis; Synthesis; Evaluation. These six cognitive processes were organized according to their complexity in ascending order. Thus, a student has to master the lower levels before attaining the upper ones. Since then, the taxonomy has been updated by one of the graduate students from Bloom’s group, Lorin Anderson, and the latter’s colleague, David Krathwohl. (Anderson, Krathwohl, Airasian, Cruikshank, Mayer, Pintrich, Raths, Wittrock, M.C., 2001). The major improvements proposed by the reformist group are: moving from nouns to verbs in describing the cognitive processes and interchanging the upper two levels (i.e. former synthesis followed by evaluation became evaluating followed by creating). The resulting Bloom-Anderson Taxonomy and the recommended action verbs associated to each category are depicted below:
eLearning comes with its challenges, as an array of new instructional activities requires new and specific learning objectives. Thus, new eLearning activities and their corresponding action verbs should be associated with the cognitive processes described in Bloom-Anderson Taxonomy. A few examples of eLearning activities are presented in the following:
Cognitive Dimension - Examples of Activities
Remembering - book marking, flash cards
Understanding - translating an equation into a computer spreadsheet, participating in “cooperative learning”, searching the Internet
Applying - “collaborative learning”, blogging
Analyzing - participating in dynamic group activities such as Fishbowls
Evaluating - creating a survey, blogging
Creating - social networking for learning purposes, etc.
Creating the Learning Activities in the Dacobots Games Starting From Bloom-Anderson Taxonomy of Learning Objectives
As products designed on game-based learning theory, the Dacobots educational games are intended for student self-paced study and aim to supplement (not replace) classroom instruction.
Each game takes approximately 10 minutes to complete and comprises 3 parts:
Discovery – an introduction meant to catch the attention of students and lead them into the material

Knowledge Strengthening – formative activities based on the concepts introduced in the Discovery section

Testing – a summative assessment to measure the students’ understanding of the concepts being taught.

The steps were taken to ensure that the learning activities included in the Dacobots games were created while taking into account the Bloom-Anderson Taxonomy of Learning Objectives.

We initiated the process with the identification of the intended knowledge dimensions and cognitive dimensions starting from several curriculum documents from the United States (Common Core State Standards for ENGLISH LANGUAGE ART S & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects), the UK (English programmes of study: key stages 1 and 2. National curriculum in England), as well as curriculum framework for Science and Mathematics for 4th and 8th grades for the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).
Based on the same documents, we clarified the intended learning outcomes of each Dacobots game. Next, we wrote the learning objectives as statements that contain an action verb associated with the intended cognitive process and an object describing the knowledge which students are expected to acquire (Anderson and Krathwohl, 2001, pp. 4–5). The image below is an example of the learning objectives of an educational game about Verbs, from the series Parts of Speech, targeting 3rd grade students.
Bloom Taxonomy
Finally, the summative assessments in the Testing unit were formulated in such a way as to measure the intended learning outcomes.
Anderson, L.W., Krathwohl, D.R., Airasian, P.W., Cruikshank, K.A., Mayer, R.E., Pintrich, P.R., Raths, J., Wittrock, M.C. (2001). A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A revision of Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. New York: Pearson, Allyn & Bacon.
Bloom, B.S. (Ed.). Engelhart, M.D., Furst, E.J., Hill, W.H., Krathwohl, D.R. (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook I: The Cognitive Domain. New York: David McKay Co Inc.
Mayer, Richard E. (2014). Research-Based Principles for Multimedia Learning. Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching. May 5, 2014.