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Teaching Within the Three Domains of Learning

Be a more effective teacher by building your lessons around the Taxonomy of Educational Objectives based on the three domains of learning.

Do you ever wonder exactly HOW children learn? There are as many theories on this topic as there are researchers to study it. However, there are three generally accepted models, called the “Domains of Learning,” that are used by most education professionals to guide their lessons. Along with standards and government input, these domains provide a framework that helps us to work with a wide variety of students.

While completing my education degree, I had a professor that related these to “the head, the heart, and the body” – thereby encompassing the whole child. When put together, they provide what is called a “Taxonomy of Educational Objectives.” You can find a ton of information on the internet simply by searching for the domain you are interested in. The examples given here are by no means all-inclusive, but are only to give you an idea of what students are capable of at each level.

To optimize your teaching, you need to try to plan lessons that touch all three domains. I have provided a summary of each domain to help you start to reach every student… every day!

The Cognitive Domain (“the Head”)

This is the area that educators are most familiar with. It encompasses the thought processes that take place in the brain in order to produce the needed skills for completing a task. Developed by Bloom in 1956, it has been a long-standing example of what we, as teachers, need to address in our lessons. There were originally six levels to the Cognitive Domain model. Our ultimate goal is to have students progress through each level as they move toward adulthood.

Level 1: Knowledge

This level involves the remembering of previously learned material and retrieval of appropriate information. Students at this level will demonstrate knowledge of common terms, some specific facts, and basic concepts and principles.

Level 2: Comprehension

This level relates to the ability to grasp the meaning of the material being taught. These students will understand facts and principles, translate and interpret verbal material, interpret charts and graphs, and estimates consequences.

Level 3: Application

This level relates to the ability to use learned material in new and concrete situations, and requires higher level of understanding than comprehension. Students at this level can apply principles and theories situations, solve mathematical problems, and construct charts and graphs.

Level 4: Analysis

This level requires higher level of understanding than comprehension and application because it requires an understanding of both structure and content. It relates to the ability to break down materials into component parts so that organizational structure may be understood. At this level, students evaluate the relevancy of data, distinguish between facts and inferences, and identify parts and relationships between parts.

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