Criticisms and Limitations of Bloom’s Taxonomy



Teaching without following a pedagogy is similar to walking in a direction without the proper road map or knowledge of direction. Therefore, pedagogies have always been at the centre stage for improving teaching and learning practices. 

Furthermore, Bloom’s taxonomy has stood the test of time and enabled learners to progress through a linear and well-constructed approach. No wonder it has assisted the faculty in aligning the outcome with assessments and activities. 

Despite the advantages, experts and academicians have pointed out the flaws evident in the pedagogical framework, which is worth analysing. 

Bloom’s Framework 

Benjamin Bloom and a few colleagues created a pedagogical framework in 1956 that encouraged abandoning the behaviourist learning theories. Their approach emphasised higher-order thinking skills instead of rote learning and memorisation. 

Moreover, they included components of affective, cognitive, and psycho-motor domains in the taxonomy to make it more holistic. The subsequent revision of the taxonomy further dissected the learning stages into six levels with a new perspective. 

Remember  This stage refers to the ability to recall facts, dates, events, places, concepts and patterns; verbs used are define, repeat, state, etc. 
Understand  The ability to explain ideas or concepts; verbs used are classify, describe, explain, identify, etc. 
Apply  The ability to use information, including facts and abstraction, in new contexts and situations. Verbs used are execute, implement, solve, demonstrate, etc. 
Analyse  The ability to break down concepts and analyse their relationships and connection to each other. Verbs used include differentiate, organise, compare, relate, distinguish, etc. 
Evaluate  The ability to use the knowledge and skills to make their conclusion and justify their opinions. Verbs used include argue, judge, critique, etc. 
Create  The highest level of Bloom’s taxonomy relates to formulating a problem’s solution and combining patterns and ideas to create original work. Verbs used include design, assemble, construct, develop, etc. 


Criticism and Limitations of Bloom’s Taxonomy 

The Hierarchical System

The pedagogical framework lists the six levels of learning stages, indicating that thinking occurs in a hierarchy. However, one of the most common critiques pointed out by some scholars is as follows: 

  • Thinking does not operate according to a hierarchical system; cognition and affect are phenomenologically distributed processes, enabling human minds with many possible configurations. 
  • The pyramid representation of the framework suggests that higher-order thinking relies on foundational knowledge, and both are separate from one another. On the contrary, that is not always the case. 
  • For instance, individuals have rich learning experiences, including different types of learning occurring simultaneously. 
  • The framework indicates ‘’create’’ as the highest level, but it might not be the case in specific disciplines of study. For example, ‘’evaluating and analysing’’ could be the highest level in a different area of study. 
  • Some instructors may view the hierarchical framework of the pedagogy in a misconceived way; they might assume that it is necessary to implement the highest level of the framework for each class.  

Lack of Scientific Validity

The taxonomy owes its origin to Benjamin Bloom, who developed it with his fellow scholars sixty years ago. Although it resonated with the learning patterns and status quo of the time, it does not anymore. 

Over the years, a few decades ago, the framework did undergo revision, but it still fails to match up to the extensive empirical research into cognition, metacognition and motivation.

Besides, empirical research on learning does not support the main categories (Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation as any category within the hierarchy from lower-order to higher-order thinking skills. 


Bloom’s taxonomy relates to cognitive domains, and one can divide it into two components: 

  • A problem-solving scenario wherein understanding of basic and accurate facts supersedes an evaluation based on biased perception. 
  • Testing of the concept for its accuracy or robustness in order to obtain final approval. 

In such instances, the analysis and evaluation are interdependent, and instructors cannot confirm changes in one without acknowledging the other. Therefore, if a problematic situation arises, the learner evaluates a potential solution. 

Even after reaching the final solution, it leads to a retrospective analysis and gradual assessment of the applied solution’s effectiveness. 

In conclusion, there is neither a distinctive hierarchy nor a particular sequence of cognitive processes, making navigating the mutually dependent processes confusing.

Negligence of Social Learning  

According to prominent American-Canadian Psychologist Albert Bandura, knowledge is one of the primary social constructs during learning, and social processes facilitate an appropriate environment for learning. 

However, the framework does not consider the social relations of persons in knowledge creation. Furthermore, it includes the following: 

  • The motivation to acquire knowledge
  • Reiterative and diverse cycles of knowledge
  • Dynamics of open inquiry 
  • The validation of related arguments 

Also, the taxonomy does not highlight the learner’s role in knowledge acquisition and creation, and neither does it relate to the psychological effects of learning experiences and individual differences in cognitive processing. 

Final Word, 

Bloom’s taxonomy historically has been one of the most common and popular approaches to instructional processes. However, it is a teacher-centric framework that focuses on the cognitive domains and does not relate to the learner’s autonomy, competence and social relatedness. 


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