Bloom's Taxonomy

Blooms Taxonomy and the Arts

Benjamin Bloom (1956) developed a classification of levels of intellectual behavior in learning. This taxonomy contained three overlapping domains: the cognitive, psycho-motor, and affective. Within the cognitive domain, he identified six levels: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. These levels were revised in the 1990's. These domains and levels are still useful today as you develop the critical thinking skills of your students.


Bloom's Taxonomy Pyramid (below) showing the highest level of thinking at the top and working its way down. Note that "Creating" is the majority of thinking done in the fine arts. Evaluating and analyzing comes from art criticism, applying is using what you learn in your art. Understanding is understanding the various art styles, periods, and using that in your art. Finally, remembering the art elements and principles of design.


Adapted from Dawn Steinecker's Triangle Chart

See Bloom's Revised Taxonomy (Archive - Revised by Lorin Anderson)

Classroom critiques use Bloom's Higher Order Thinking Skills - See these sample questions by Craig Roland.


Bloom's Taxonomy Pyramid



[Designing, constructing, developing, producing, manipulating, painting]


Create a sculpture, painting, collage, drawing, etc.

What ways would you render the subject differently? Create your art in different styles

[Judging, evaluating, appraising, defending]


Does the art use complementary color?

Does the picture direct eye movement to the main subject of the painting?

Is the picture in balance and represent the style well? Why?

[Comparing, contrasting, experimenting, testing, questioning, examining]


In what ways does the picture illustrate various elements and principles of art?

What is the artist's main message of their art?

What is your opinion of the painting?

[Dramatizing, sketching, using, solving, illustrating, writing, demonstrating]


If you could interview the artist, what questions would you ask?

After your lesson on perspective, make a drawing using two-point perspective

[Classifying, describing, discussing, explaining, paraphrasing, locating, translating]


What is the subject or theme of the picture?

Why is this considered an Impressionist painting?

[Memorizing, listing, recalling, repeating, reproducing, copying]


Who painted the Mona Lisa?

What style of art did Van Gogh paint in?


Previously, Blooms Taxonomy was listed as evaluation, synthesis, analysis, application, comprehension, and knowledge. A student of Bloom's, Lorin Anderson, updated the taxonomy in the 1990's. Lorin's team represented cognitive psychologists, researchers, and assessment specialists. They spent six years finalizing their work.


Attributes of the ARTS and higher level thinking:

• Creative problem solving/Thinking outside the box

• Supports interpersonal relations/attitudes/emotions

• Questions/challenges/accepts/values

• Contributes/shares/volunteers/attempts

• Defends/judges/disputes/joins

• Appreciates identity/praises/supports


Helpful links for Bloom's Taxonomy


Successful Art Class Critique – by Marvin Bartel
Student Handout – by Marvin Bartel

How to Read a Painting by Will Hanson [Archive]

ARTiculation (designed for middle school – but adaptable) [Archive]

What is Art? What is an Artist? Sweet Brian College – by Chris Witcombe [Archive]

Eyes on Art – A Learning to Look Curriculum by Tom March

Art Crimes - Cautionary tales of art criticism gone too far (Aesthetic issues – valuing art)

Sample Art Criticism Final Exam (Middle school level - adaptable to high school)

See It's the Thought that Counts [Archive] - A copy of a handout from Craig Roland's session on “Teaching Thinking in the Art Classroom” presented at the National Art Education Association Conference in New York on March 16, 2001. Has links to two PDF files linked on that page.