Do you remember when you were in Grade 3 or 4, just drawing and listening to stories?
Bloom’s taxonomy, which sounds like a floral classification, is actually an educational principle about how well you know your subject (i.e. your level of mastery).
For example, if you studied biology at a low level of mastery, that means that you barely remember what the word ‘cell’ means, but if you have a high level of mastery, you’re out there pushing the boundaries of biological knowledge with new discoveries.
It’s evident that you want a higher level of mastery than a lower level-you don’t have to be at the frontiers of human knowledge for your chemistry exam, but you should be at a high level to cope with all those curveball questions.
People learn about Bloom's taxonomy a lot, but very few people (including teachers) understand the full extent of how it should be interpreted.
What ‘Efficiency’ Really Means
In order to get the maximum amount of efficiency out of your study system, I want to emphasize that I am not just saying this for theory, but as a practical guide to how you should structure your study.
By 'efficiency', I mean that you're learning as much as possible to a high level of retention, which means getting the highest grade possible in the shortest possible time (meaning more sleep, more socializing, more Netflix, more food, and whatever else you like to do).
How Does Bloom’s Taxonomy for Digital Learning Work?
Throughout Bloom’s Taxonomy, we prioritize higher-order thinking skills.
According to Bloom’s revised taxonomy, there are six levels of knowledge mastery. The bottom two are ‘memorize’ and ‘understand’. It’s generally accepted that learning to MEMORISE something isn’t really well-known information—but UNDERSTANDING is also a very low-level skill because even if you do understand something, it doesn’t mean you can do anything with it.
The next step is to ‘apply’ that knowledge (Level 3), which means using it to solve problems. This is the first time the knowledge becomes useful.
How do you know if you’re learning at a low level?
During Level 1 (memorization), you are primarily focused on memorizing a definition. Those at this level tend to repeat things a lot, use rote learning strategies, and spend a lot of time preparing flash cards. They mostly learn by taking something and repeating it until it’s just sunk into their head. It’s kind of like that baby game with the wooden blocks and holes.
Memorizing everything is the same as getting the circular block, finding the triangle hole, and repeatedly smashing it in until there are bits of wood all over the floor, and eventually it fits but it's just a mess and everything is destroyed.)
At Level 2 (understanding), people focus on understanding the information. They have discussions about it and are able to explain the topic. It’s clearly a step up from just memorizing, but it’s still not very effective. We mentioned in our post about memory hacking and relationship-priority learning that the human brain retains information more effectively when it is surrounded by meaningful relationships.
In isolation, information is forgotten; in relationships, it is retained.
When you try to understand information, you are still only seeing it in isolation—you understand the piece of information at the time, but it will not be retained a few months or years from now. Therefore, despite the fact that understanding is more effective than memorizing, it still falls short because it fails to focus on relationships.
Although these notes may seem very familiar to you, they are highly inefficient and ineffective – a lot more than just a lack of relationships and isolation. How can you expect to score differently and better if you’re doing the same thing that everyone else is doing?
Level 3 (applying) is the starting point of what we may regard as ‘higher-order’ or ‘higher-level’ learning. During advanced study, we need to consider the relationships between info, since it is very tough to use data alone to solve a problem without connecting it to other factors (or relating it to the issue itself). Issues are seldom straightforward and uncomplicated, so applying information to solve difficulties is beneficial – and an even better approach is the levels above, which are ‘analyse’ (Level 4) and then ‘evaluate’ (Level 5). Analysing requires that we compare various ideas and concepts with each other – resulting in us having the ability to make a judgment.
The idea can be taken to the next level by evaluating, which is comparing ideas, but also critiquing, ranking, or prioritizing them. “This concept is important, and that concept is important, and they are related. In these situations, this concept is slightly more important than that one, but in other situations, it’s the other way around.”
We’re not just relating different concepts to each other, we’re also creating a priority regarding which concepts are most important in different contexts. This bridges the way to the final level, learning to ‘create’ (Level 6). A theorist uses what they know to speculate about possibilities, which is what people at the top of their fields do. It implies using what they know to create conjectures, hypotheses, or new knowledge.
The sixth level is ‘Create’
There is no requirement to achieve Level 6 in your test or exam, however Levels 3, 4 and 5 (apply, analyse, and evaluate) offer an advantage. When you’re engaged in these activities your brain will commit the lower levels, such as memorising and understanding the material, to memory without you even realising it. This means that although you need to retain all information for your assessment, you don’t have to spend a lot of time on it as higher-level learning encourages lower levels automatically.
Take a look at your study methods.
How do you learn? What do you spend most of your time doing?
We teach all the techniques in the program to increase your higher-order learning and get away from the lower-level learning, which is very time consuming and ineffective.
The only way to improve is to self-evaluate and make sure you’re always moving forward.
Start from the basics first. Look at the way you’re studying now and ask yourself: If I were to change the way I study, I would.
There are so many people who aren’t effective with active recall, so make sure you read this to make sure you utilize it correctly.