Domains and levels of learning

After reviewing extensively the educational objectives used in real practice, Bloom and his colleagues (Bloom, Englehart, Furst, Hill, & Krathwohl, 1956) identified three domains of learning: cognitive, affective, and psychomotor.

Psychomotor domain

Psychomotor domain defines the learning that deals with physical movement, coordination, and the use of motor skills. Dave (1970) identified five major categories in this domain:

  • Imitation: It is the most basic level in this domain which involves observing and copying the action of someone else.
  • Manipulation: This involves reproducing activity from instruction or memory. It is one step forward from imitation.
  • Precision: It refers to the ability to execute skill smoothly, accurately, and independently.
  • Articulation: It means being able to adapt or integrate expertise to satisfy a new context.
  • Naturalization: This the highest level in psychomotor domain, referring to an instinctive mastery of activity and related skills at a strategic level.

Psychomotor domain

Affective domain

Affective domain includes changes in interest, belief, attitude, value, and motivation. It deals with the emotional aspects of learning. Five categories were identified in this domain (Krathwohl, Bloom, & Masia, 1973):

  • Receiving: This is the first category in the domain. It refers to the awareness of an attitude, behaviour or value and the willingness to hear or receive information.
  • Responding: It goes beyond the willingness to receive information passively to active attention to stimuli, willingness to participate or showing enjoyment.
  • Valuing: It involves an acceptance of a value, preference for a value or a commitment to particular stance or action.
  • Organization: It involves conceptualizing different values, resolving the conflicts between them, and developing a personal value system.
  • Internalisation: This is the highest level under affective domain. It means the establishment of a consistent value system. A learners who achieves at this level behaves consistently in accordance with the values he or she has internalized.

Affective domain

Cognitive domain

The cognitive domain involves the recognition of knowledge and the development of intellectual abilities and skills. Six levels were identified under this domain (Bloom, Englehart, Furst, Hill, & Krathwohl, 1956). From the simplest to the most complex, they are:

  • Knowledge: This is the simplest level which focuses on memorization, recognition, and recall of information.
  • Comprehension: This level focuses on translation, understanding the meaning, and the interpretation of information.
  • Application: This level focuses on using or implementing what one learns in a new context.
  • Analysis: This level focuses on separating materials or concepts into parts and distinguishing between facts and inferences in order to find the underlying structure.
  • Synthesis: This level focuses on combining diverse elements together to build a new structure or create something new.
  • Evaluation: It is the highest level which involves making judgments on the value of ideas or materials.

In a more recent version of this taxonomy (Anderson, Krathwohl, Airasian, Cruikshank, Mayer, Pintrich, Raths, & Wittrock, 2001), the top two levels were reversed.

Cognitive domain


Anderson, L.W., Krathwohl, D. R., Airasian, P.W., Cruikshank, K.A., Mayer, R.E., Pintrich, P. R., Raths, J., & Wittrock, M.C. (Eds.). (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives (Complete edition). New York: Longman.

Bloom, B. S., Englehart, M. D., Furst, E. J., Hill, W. H., & Krathwohl, D. R. (Eds.). (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, the classification of educational goals – Book I: Cognitive Domain. London: David McKay Company, Inc.

Dave, R. H. (1970). Psychomotor levels. In R.J. Arm- strong (Ed.), Developing and writing educational objectives (pp. 33-34). Tucson AZ: Educational Innovators Press.

Krathwohl, D.R., Bloom, B.S., & Masia, B.B. (1973). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, the Classification of Educational Goals. Handbook II: Affective Domain. New York: David McKay Co., Inc.


About the photo: Main Building, the oldest building at The University of Hong Kong, filmed in 2016.

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