Prior to 1954 Benjamin Bloom chaired a series of seminars involving key educators.  The summary of this work is often called Blooms Taxonomy.  It seeks to define learning in terms of a 3 ladders: Knowledge, Emotion and Action (Cognitive, Affective and Psychomotor).  The Knowledge ladder is focussed on below.

  • Rung 1 of the Cognitive Ladder is often described as REMEMBERING
  • Rung 2 is often described as UNDERSTANDING
  • Rung 3 as APPLYING

The first 3 rungs are sometimes called lower order thinking skills because they can generally be assessed by a computer and can effectively be memorised by a learner as a set of responses without necessarily having deeper understanding.

  • Rung 4 as ANALYSING
  • Rung 5 as SYNTHESISING  or  EVALUATING  depending on which version you follow
  • Rung 6 as EVALUATING or SYNTHESISING see above

These second 3 rungs are sometimes called HIGHER ORDER THINKING or HOT skills because they generally don’t have a right answer and involve bringing together pieces of knowledge from different sources and finding meaning or new approaches.  Some educators believe rungs 4-6 are of equivalent difficulty, some feel evaluation is more challenging than synthesis and still others place CREATIVITY above all of these.

In general it is accepted that a learner requires a sound grounding of information using rungs 1-3 if they are to use these concepts and knowledge in useful ways.  In commercial terms, useful relates to higher order tasks such as new ideas, new approaches, improvements, decision making, investments etc.