Bloom’s Taxonomy and the Genesis of a Scientist

Bloom’s Taxonomy Wheel

I was introduced to Bloom’s taxonomy in 6th grade, and ever since, I have been hyperaware (sometimes to my detriment) of what part of the wheel I was operating on. Am I just learning and regurgitating? Or am I applying what I learned? Am I able to create new things based on this knowledge or step back and assess it, not just take it at face value?

Unfortunately, in order to graduate high school (and despite the AP classes), I wasn’t expected to operate at any higher level than comprehension, particularly in the sciences. It wasn’t until I attended a liberal arts college that I was expected to analyze, synthesize, or evaluate what I was being taught. But again, this really wasn’t the approach to teaching college-level biology. For premeds (which I NEVER was, for the record), it was about learning as many facts as possible to pass the MCAT. Only one of my biology professors asked us to exercise those higher levels of brainpower. His assignments made the premeds groan, but they ended up being the assignments that made me stop memorizing and start wondering, start connecting dots, start seeing how the facts added up and where there they didn’t, and where some hypothesizing needed to be done. In effect, how to think like a scientist.

One assignment in particular really woke me up to the kind of thought processes that were expected in a scientist – he gave us a series of cell biology peer-reviewed articles and asked us to critique the methods, the results, and the discussion sections. It was a rare and delicious opportunity to use my mind in a biology class. I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped, but the learning experience was invaluable. In retrospect, I mark it as the true beginning of my career in medical and science writing and editing.

This professor recently retired, and although it had been over a decade since I sat in his class, I wrote to him to let him know exactly how his approach to teaching made me a successful scientist, writer, and editor. For me, Bloom’s is always there, in the back of my mind, challenging me to not only continue learning (the Knowledge level) but to reach those higher levels of thinking (Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation). Challenging to act and think like a scientist, even without a bench in front of me.


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