How To Teach Critical Thinking Using Bloom’s Taxonomy

The various levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy are well known to teachers, students, and the rest of the education world at this point. You need to slowly ascend the pyramid in order to effectively reach your goal(s). That’s great. But what happens when you try to apply other time-tested methodologies to the famous taxonomy?

This happens.

The visual guide you see below is from Flickr via Kris McElroy’s Pinterest board (she shares a lot of fabulous resources so check ‘em out!). It details the many critical thinking skills and related questions that you should use.

Level One

From the base knowledge level of the taxonomy you can see that you start with the usual ‘who’ ‘what’ ‘where’ and other questions. Those are useful fill-in-the-blank questions that help identification and recall of information.

Level Two

You’re asked to re-tell and dive in a bit deeper into the topic you’re researching or discussing. This helps aid in comprehension and organization / selection of facts and ideas.

Level Three

How do you actually apply the skills you’re learning? How can your newfound critical thinking skills be used to interpret new data from outside sources?

Level Four

Like a good scientist (this is close to the Scientific Method after all), we must analyze the results that are now coming forth. We should pause and figure out how critical thinking skills are being incorporated into our everyday lives. Just ask the questions in level four and you’re off to a great start!

Level Five

Time to remix and synthesize some new ideas or formulations. In other words, let’s take what we know and combine a bit of what we just discovered. That’ll help us form new ideas and interpretations of what we’re studying or discussing.

Level Six

Boom. You made it. Time to form your own opinion and be able to discuss the finer points of why you think the way you do! Who knew it took so much work to actually be able to accurately form your own opinion?

Think about that the next time you’re asked your opinion. It takes time to ponder and consider every level of the taxonomy.

critical thinking skills


  1. Gordon Lehmann

    September 27, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    Your first paragraph statement that “You need to slowly ascend the pyramid in order to effectively reach your goal(s). That’s great.” Is not great. One of the mis-interpretations of Blooms that is most often made is that it is hierarchical. It isn’t! To then build a learning structure based on such a fundamental mistake makes the whole learning structure a “flight of fancy”. Look at SOLO.

  2. Carol Hayenga

    September 30, 2013 at 11:17 am

    Jeff, thanks for the article and also for sharing Kris McElroy’s chart. I am always looking for new ways to use the news articles I download for my B1/2 level engineering students. I especially appreciate the questions incorporated into each level of the taxonomy. I immediately began to visualize how I could use all 6 levels in the same exercise or lesson. A great way to start a new semester.

  3. pelj

    October 2, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    I believe that there is an updated Bloom’s Taxonomy (1990’s) which includes creativity – substituting for synthesis.

  4. susan mabonga

    November 7, 2013 at 8:11 am

    great information