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Addressing Learning Domains in Curriculum & Instruction

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In this lesson we will learn about Dr. Benjamin Bloom's work in identifying the three domains of learning. For each of the learning domains, there are stages that students move through as they are developing. Understanding the stages helps teachers plan activities that contribute to student growth.

Dr. Bloom's Learning Domains

What are learning domains and where did they come from? Dr. Benjamin Bloom was an American psychologist who developed the taxonomy of educational objectives. Bloom's taxonomy is a holistic approach that includes the affective, psychomotor, and cognitive domains of learning. The affective domain describes the development of values, emotions, and attitudes. The psychomotor domain defines the processes involved in motor skill development, and the cognitive domain outlines the progression toward acquiring intellect. Each domain is divided into levels of complexity, each of which must be mastered before progressing to the next stage.

Cognitive Domain

How do children learn? The cognitive domain provides the framework for helping students develop intellectually. The categories of the new Bloom's taxonomy that was released by some of Dr. Bloom's students in 1990 are: remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating.

As students move through the categories, there are progressively more difficult questions that teachers ask to promote higher-level thinking. Let's look at some examples:

  • Level One, Remembering: Label the parts of the circulatory system.
  • Level Two, Understanding: Summarize the functions of each part of the circulatory system.
  • Level Three, Applying: What might happen if the aorta was blocked?
  • Level Four, Analyzing: Compare and Contrast the circulatory system and the lymphatic system.
  • Level Five, Evaluating: Using what you know about the circulatory system's role in fighting pathogens, would you recommend immunizations for children? Justify your answer.
  • Level Six, Creating: Design a working model of the circulatory system.

Psychomotor Domain

Not all learning is academic in nature. The psychomotor domain describes how students develop physical skills. Dr. Bloom's team of researchers made a conscious decision not to further explore the psychomotor domain as none of the members of the team had direct experience in this domain, but E. Simpson developed the levels of the psychomotor domain in 1972. Simpson's categories of the psychomotor domain are: perception (awareness), set (readiness), guided response (imitation), mechanism (proficiency), complex or overt response (skilled), adaptation and origination (modification and construction). Let's look at an example of a student moving through the stages of the psychomotor domain.

  • Level One, Perception: A student is able to move in the direction that a basketball is thrown.
  • Level Two, Set: A student asks for help developing his form when throwing free-throws.
  • Level Three, Guided Response: A student practices throwing free-throws.
  • Level Four, Mechanism: A student is able to make free-throws with some proficiency most of the time.
  • Level Five, Complex Response: A student is able to score free-throws without touching the rim nearly every time.
  • Level Six, Adaptation: A student is able to score three-point shots from multiple positions on the court.
  • Level Seven, Origination: A student is able to develop highly complex plays in order to score baskets during a game.

Affective Domain

Dr. Bloom also recognized that people have unique ways of viewing the world. The affective domain includes values, emotions, motivation, and attitudes. The categories of the social domain are: receiving phenomena, responding to phenomena, valuing, organization, and internalizing values. Let's look at an example of a student working through the affective domain.

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