The Answer Lies in the Question

If you are involved in education in any way, you know about Bloom. His Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, The Classification of Educational Goals, Handbook I: Cognitive Domain, commonly known as Bloom’s Taxonomy has been used by educators in virtually every subject area at virtually every grade level since 1956 when it was first published.

Subsequently there have been several revisions and new taxonomies, which I believe are helpful in course and assessment design. However I agree with Peter Nilson (2012) that there is a great deal of overlap in the different taxonomies and that educators should take what works best for their particular students and context.

This does presuppose however, that teachers have the ability to juggle taxonomies and pose relevant questions.

Moodley (2013) found that certainly in the South African context (and I believe probably in several other countries too), teachers are poorly trained therefore don’t understand the different cognitive levels, or how to apply the taxonomies for effective learning and teaching. “It appears that some teachers do not have the key to unlock learners’ minds and create cognitive pathways that eventually lead to the literacy skills which enhance scholastic performance”. An awareness of Bloom notwithstanding.

The consequence of this is that neither teacher nor learners can develop critical or creative thinking skills – which is fine if you’d be happy having an entire generation of rote learners, unable to pose an opinion, solve a problem or argue a point – the factory workers of yesteryear. It is certainly not fine for 21st century learners.

In the same study, Moodley found that teachers, under guidance and training were able to generate more challenging, middle, and higher order questions, with a cascading effect for their learners. However South Africa has over 5000 teachers who are unqualified or underqualified (Times Live 06 June 2017 – Savides M) and almost 13 million learners in government schools.

How does one reach them?

In the design of the FaceBoard game, we have used Marzano’s Taxonomy (2006) as a guide for the question and activity JAMBED prompts. Any teacher or facilitator using the existing JAMBEDs, or creating new Open Source JAMBEDS is thus ensured a spread of the different cognitive skills, no matter the subject matter.


a. Marzano RJ, 2017. Taxonomy Crosswalk Quick Reference Guide

b. Marzano RJ and Kendall JS, 2006. The New Taxonomy of Educational Objectives

c. Moodley V, 2013. In-service teacher education: asking questions for higher order thinking in visual literacy. South African Journal of Education

d. Nilson P, 2012. Taxonomies of (Six) Educational Objectives.