Creative Questioning Using Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning

Benjamin Bloom identified in this book, Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, six major cognitive operations involved in thinking:

knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

Infants and toddlers use primarily the first two levels, but by age three, most children can use all six. By asking specific kinds of question, you can help children experience and practice thinking on each of these levels. Questions asked on the first two levels of thinking tend to be convergent in nature. These questions test children knowledge and comprehension about a topic and usually have a right or wrong answer. Questions such as “What shape is this?” or “Is this red?” do not elicit language or divergent thinking. Children either know the answer or they don’t. Young children learn very quickly that they have a fifty-fifty chance of being wrong in these situations. Many decide not to even try an answer so they avoid the risk of being wrong.

Questions designed for the upper four levels of the taxonomy are meant to encourage more abstract thinking and a more sophisticated integration of content and experience. These divergent questions often do not have a right or wrong answer. These questions are open-ended and stimulate a child’s creative and critical thinking. The process of answering these questions is based on using or synthesizing information instead of regurgitating facts.
It has been found that teachers who consistently use questions on a higher level of thinking increase their children’s higher level thinking skills in terms of frequency, depth and complexity.

Here are the levels with examples that could be used for experiments in the “sink and float” in the water table or the bathtub!

Gathering knowledge means acquiring basic pieces of information. Questions at this level ask children to identify or describe objects. You might say, “I see you are using lots of toys in the water. What can you tell me about them?”

Comprehending and confirming looks at the meaning of the information gathered. You might say, Yes, the yellow sponge floats. What about the other sponges? Do they float too?”
Applying requires children to take what they’ve learned and use it in new situations. You might ask, “What can you make that will float using these materials?”
Analyzing is thinking about the whole in terms of its parts. You might ask, “Which materials do you think will be best to build a boat? A wood piece? A foam tray?”
Synthesizing asks children to put parts together to form a whole. You might ask, “How can we use all the materials together to make a boat?”
Evaluating includes comparing and making judgments. You might ask,“Which materials worked best? Why?


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