Learning is not an event. It is a process. It is the continual growth and change in the brain's architecture that results from the many ways we take in information, process it, connect it, catalogue it, and use it (and sometimes get rid of it).
Learning can generally be categorized into three domains: cognitive, affective, and psychomotor. Within each domain are multiple levels of learning that progress from more basic, surface-level learning to more complex, deeper-level learning. The level of learning we strive to impact will vary across learning experiences depending on 1) the nature of the experience, 2) the developmental levels of the participating students, and 3) the duration and intensity of the experience.
When writing learning objectives, it is important to think about which domain(s) is relevant to the learning experience you are designing. The tables below provide further information about each domain.
The cognitive domain deals with how we acquire, process, and use knowledge. It is the "thinking" domain. The table below outlines the six levels in this domain and verbs that can be used to write learning objectives.
|Cognitive Domain Levels|
|Retrieve relevant knowledge from long-term memory||Construct meaning from instructional messages, including oral, written, and graphic communication||Carry out or use a procedure in a given situation||Break material into its constituent parts and determine how the parts relate to one another and to an overall structure or purpose||Make judgments based on criteria and standards||Put elements together to form a coherent or functional whole; reorganize elements into a new pattern or structure|
The affective domain deals with our attitudes, values, and emotions. It is the "valuing" domain. The table below outlines the five levels in this domain and verbs that can be used to write learning objectives.
|Affective Domain Levels|
|Openness to new information or experiences||Active participation in, interaction with, or response to new information or experiences||Attaching value or worth to new information or experiences||Incorporating new information or experiences into existing value system||Full integration/ internalization resulting in new and consistent attitudes, beliefs, and/or behaviors|
The psychomotor domain deals with manual or physical skills. It is the "doing" domain. The table below outlines the five levels in this domain and verbs that can be used to write learning objectives.
|Psychomotor Domain Levels|
|Observing and copying another's action/skill||Reproducing action/skill through instruction||Accurately executing action/skill on own||Integrating multiple actions/skills and performing consistently||Naturally and automatically performing actions/skills at high level|
Anderson, L.W., & Krathwohl, D.R. (eds.). (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching and assessing: A revision of Bloom's Taxonomy of educational objectives. New York: Longman.
Dave, R.H. (1975). Developing and writing behavioural objectives. (R J Armstrong, ed.) Educational Innovators Press.
Krathwohl, D.R., Bloom, B.S., & Masia, B.B. (1964). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals. Handbook II: Affective domain. New York: David McKay Co.