Bloom’s 6 Levels of Knowledge, Explained! (Updated 2020)

levels of knowledge

According to Bloom of Bloom’s Taxonomy, things can be known and understood at 6 levels.

The 6 levels of knowledge are:

  1. Remembering
  2. Understanding
  3. Applying
  4. Analyzing
  5. Evaluating
  6. Creating

As you move up the levels, your depth of knowledge increases – in other words, you become more knowledgeable!

Read below to understand all 6 levels.

6 Levels of Knowledge

Level 1: Remembering

Remembering is the lowest form of knowledge. Information that is remembered does not need to be understood and cannot be meaningfully used in real life. Remembering simply involves storing facts and being able to repeat them when asked.

Assessment

  • Assessing how well someone remembers something involves quizzing them and asking them to repeat facts, such as through a standardized test.

Examples

  • Knowing that 6 x 6 is 36, but not being able to explain why.
  • Repeating the political biases of your parents, without thinking about it for yourself.
  • Memorizing facts for a standardized test at school.

Related Teaching Strategies and Theories

  • Behaviorism: Behaviorist educators teach through rewards and punishments. They do not care whether students understand the deeper explanations for things; they care only that the student can repeat facts at-will (and the students get rewarded accordingly).
  • Passive Learning: A passive learner doesn’t need to think about what they’re learning, they simply have to learn it through rote repetition.
  • Banking Education: The banking model of education sees students as empty vessels who get filled with information, which they remember and repeat back to the teacher when asked.

Good For

  • This sort of knowledge is valuable when someone simply needs to be able to remember something without thinking. Examples include remembering your own phone number, birthday, or the procedure for doing a simple task.

Level 2: Understanding

Understanding is more than remembering. It requires that someone comprehends why something is the way it is. 

While someone at the ‘remembering’ level can recall the fact that 6 x 6 = 36, a student at the ‘understanding’ level knows why. A student who understands what 6 x 6 means could actually show on a diagram or using tokens what 6 x 6 looks like.

Assessment

  • At the level of understanding, a student should be able to show the steps on how they reached their conclusions. This can be done through essays, having students write down their thought process, or the systematic steps they took to reach their answer.

Examples

  • Being able to paraphrase something to show they understand it in their own words.
  • A full written paragraph explanation of a literary concept.
  • Being able to show the working steps that got a student to a mathematical answer,

Related Teaching Strategies and Theories

  • Guided Practice: A teacher can help a student understand something by providing guided practice, or ‘scaffolding’. Guided practice involves working very closely with a student to model how to learn. The teacher focuses on providing tasks that are difficult for the student’s level but also achievable with support.

Level 3: Applying

Applying involves using knowledge in a variety of different situations to achieve practical goals. While a student who only understands something may be able to do tasks in a classroom setting, someone who can apply that knowledge is capable of using it across different situations and contexts.

Assessment

  • To assess knowledge application, an educator can observe a student conducting a task in a real-life context. This may include entering a school lab or a workplace setting to observe a student completing a task.

Examples

  • Being able to use mathematical concepts in new situations, such as constructing a model.
  • Being able to demonstrate proficiency with skills in practical situations.

Related Teaching Strategies and Theories

  • Play Based Learning: When students learn through play, they try out new ideas and see if they work. This application of knowledge helps students refine what they know by continuing to use what works and change things that don’t work. We might also call this trial-and-error learning.
  • Situated Learning: Situated learning involves learning-in-context. The most common form of situated learning is apprenticeships, where students learn within a workplace from an expert. As the apprentice develops their knowledge, they get to apply it by doing more and more on-the-job tasks.

Level 4: Analyzing

Analyzing involves the ability to look closely at and deconstruct a concept. Usually, this involves being able to categorize it, sort it, and compare and contrast it to other concepts. 

A good analyst should be able to get a deep level of understanding about exactly what the concept is and what it looks like from multiple different angles.

Assessment

  • To assess a student’s ability to analyze a concept, a teacher can get them to compare and contrast it to other concepts, use graphic organizers to place it into categories, or discuss its constituent parts.

Examples

  • Placing animals into their species and genus based upon their attributes.
  • Identifying trends and themes within a novel or movie.
  • Using mathematics to determine whether or not a bridge can withhold the weight of a truck.

Related Teaching Strategies and Theories

  • Problem Posing Education: Educators who present problems to their students (rather than simply teaching them facts) are requiring students to come to conclusions and solve puzzles using analytical skills.
  • Phenomenon Based Learning: Students don’t learn via subjects, but by examining phenomena. They may be presented with a phenomenon and must analyze the phenomenon, applying their knowledge learned from multiple different subject domains throughout the eamplination.

Level 5: Evaluating

Evaluating uses many of the same strategies as analyzing, but takes one step further. It involves making a value judgement about the thing under analysis. For example, a student may determine something’s value and validity using their own critical thinking skills.

Assessment

  • To assess how well someone evaluated something, a teacher needs to ask them to make value judgments and examine how logical or convincing those value judgments truly are.

Examples

  • A student can report on the viability of a public works proposal by using a cost-benefit analysis.
  • A student can apply a theory to a novel or movie to examine how effectively it addresses a social issue.
  • A student can look at historical data and determine whether or not it is reliable based upon who wrote it and what their biases may be.

Related Teaching Strategies and Theories

  • Critical Thinking: A person can use critical thinking skills and higher-order cognitive skills such as debating, hypothesizing, reviewing and perspectival thinking.

Level 6: Creating

Creativity is the highest level of knowledge. A person who can create new knowledge is competent with existing knowledge on a topic, and can create new knowledge that extends upon what they already know. 

In order to reach this level, you need to be able to know and think deeply about your topic enough that you can consider new ways to use it beyond what is already known.

Assessment

  •  A teacher can ask a student to come up with a new thesis or idea on a topic. Or, the teacher could assess a student’s personal creative design.

Examples

  • A college student writes a 10,000 word dissertation as their capstone project to get their degree.
  • A teacher assesses a group’s knowledge of aerodynamics by asking them to design a paper airplane that is calibrated to do loop-the-loops.

Related Teaching Strategies and Theories

  • Project Based Learning: PBL involves working on projects over multiple different lessons rather than simply working on tasks set by the teacher. The teacher may assign a project to create something which, in the process of creation, demonstrates the students’ depth of knowledge on the topic.

Criticisms and Alternatives to Bloom’s Taxonomy

Bloom’s taxonomy of knowledge has been used for over 50 years by educators and curriculum designers. It is very useful for designing assessment tasks that can assess knowledge at each level.

However, many have criticized the taxonomy.

Criticisms include:

  • There are many different types of knowledge, which are not all uniformly applicable to the taxonomy. Some forms of knowledge are not possible to be assessed using the ‘levels system’ of Bloom.
  • The Levels are not Observable: It is hard to observe and assess things like ‘understanding’. Someone may understand something, but not be able to express their understanding in a test situation.

An alternative to Bloom’s taxonomy is Biggs’s SOLO taxonomy. The SOLO taxonomy similarly provides levels to categorize knowledge. However, the SOLO approach looks at observable outcomes of knowledge rather than knowledge itself.

Final Thoughts

Bloom’s levels of knowledge help us understand how deeply we can know things.

The first levels represent surface knowledge, which means you only have basic knowledge about a topic. 

As you move up the levels, knowledge becomes ‘deep knowledge’. Deep knowledge means that you have a very strong understanding of a topic.

You know you have deep knowledge when you can speak in detail about a topic, see it from many different perspectives, and use your knowledge in many different situations (or ‘contexts’).