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Benjamin Bloom, most noted for leading the development of a system that categorized and made sense of the different levels of understanding when using verbs in learning.

As a tutor delivering levels 3 through to 7 this is incredibly valuable to me and my students in understanding what is required of them and to what depth. Certainly when viewing subject areas in the Level 3 and for instance the Level 5 I can give a typical example of how useful this is.

Describe a range of models of Management (Level 3)

Evaluate a range of models of Management (Level 5)

On each of the above the student is being asked very different things at different levels of difficulty.

Blooms has 6 levels in which verbs are categorised as per level of understanding and is a fantastic tool when drawing up lesson plans to keep the work at the right level of study. For the purpose of this article I am in the main referring to the new revised version.

Note that the Levels given here do not relate to the Ofqual RQF Levels (Regulated Qualifications Framework) but are similar in usage.

Level 1 Remembering

Previously ‘Knowledge’ in basic terms of recalling and remembering and so can be referred to as knowing basics or specifics and being able to identify but not necessarily be able to put it in context or understand the meaning of it. So for example, you can know the ingredients for making bread and remember the process but it doesn’t mean you understand why those ingredients are needed or why you have to follow a particular process. You can hopefully see that in going through the levels you will need to have level 1 in order to be able to claim a Level 2 understanding.

Level 2 Understanding

The next level, understanding and the term is immediately open to interpretation as in fact are most of the level descriptors. I would always consider understanding to be at various levels being basic to deep but forgetting that for now – remember we are going up the levels so are concerning ourselves with the base of understanding. You could have a high level of understanding which will allow coverage of levels 3 or higher. An example of the base line in relation to making bread would be that you are able to comprehend why you need certain amounts of each ingredient and distinguish between them. You would also be able to explain to a certain degree why the process of leaving to prove is needed.

Level 3 Applying

Application  of knowledge and understanding , this is a common term in NVQs where we require the student to show not only that they know the theory but that they can apply it in real terms. This involves technique and the beginnings of practiced skill. At this level there is an expectation of being able to problem solve and again using the bread making as an example (may as well as Ive started something now) you would now be at a stage where you not only understood the baking process but could adapt if for instance you had a substitute ingredient, eg if you are able to understand the ingredient yeast and you have quick easy bake yeast rather than the original you would adapt the process to suit by applying your knowledge of the differences between the yeast types and your understanding of how they both behave and what that means to the bread making process.

Level 4 Analysing

This is one of the most  used categories in Levels 4-5 in the RQF. To be able to break some right down into its components to examine it closely takes a good level of skill. You will see how at this level you must have level 1-3 firmly under the belt. An analysis looks at the relationship of its parts, how it comes together, works together. What makes it tick. And back in the bread makers we now have someone who knows exactly what bread is made of but also how the ingredients react and come together. Analysing the process would involve an examination of the chemistry involved in the bread making process.

Level 6 Evaluating

The level most common in the Levels 6 and 7 although often appears in the 5. This is the justification where the student is expected to be somewhat of an expert in the subject and be able to give their own opinion and judgment on a subject based on all their skill throughout levels 1-5. You cannot give an evaluation  or a least a thorough and justifiable one unless you know your stuff ! Evaluations should consider advantages, limitations and a full consideration of factors with arguments from various approaches leading to their own conclusion backed by the evaluation itself. So where is our Bread maker now …… Master Baker with all the skill, knowledge and application to be able to judge other breads and make a respected well founded opinion.

Level 5 Creating

I have used this category a lot in Levels 5 and particularly 7. This is a creative stage that allows for innovation and so probably a favourite for me. At this Level the student will be able to plan and develop, create and design. The bread maker is now artisan and in knowing and understanding all the rules of baking bread can now create all sorts of variations of different breads using different herbs and flavours. This is an experimental stage but one often based on a solid background of skill.

On research you may find a difference in placing of 5 and 6 (the old version). Well, they are both high skill but I have gone with my own opinion (the new model). Innovation is classed by many as the height of skill and knowledge and i do relate to this as it is my favourite level but I can see why the original version placed evaluation at the top as it lends for what would have been considered more academic in terms of reasoning than creation of something new. Feel free to express your own opinion in the comments at the end of this post.

From the above you may feel each level has to be gained in order to reach level 5 – this isn’t always the case! Creation could potentially occur at any point. My example of bread maker follows a line of growth and development but there are plenty of opportunities that would allow for a higher level without necessarily having gone through the lower levels first.

Placing the verbs

I have given an account of the different levels and hope you will find the below table helpful in considering verbs in terms of levels. Note this is research based on Blooms taxonomy and you may find yourself leaning towards placing a verb (in between levels) and there’s nothing wrong with this providing you make it clear what your expectations are in terms of depth and detail requirements. In fact, this can be a useful in student progression and certainly the RQF does this often. A level 4 unit can contain verbs that are more familiar with level 5 and this is a great way of encouraging student s to push themselves further and be in a position to transition to the next level. This has to be used wisely and in moderation to avoid too high a level of difficulty.

NOTE: You will find many reservations of this model upon research and all are deserving of reading and consideration. I do not believe there is one set way of learning and neither should there be! My blog here is to put verbs into perspective when asking a student to undertake an assignment. It is not a set model for teaching. I am giving my thoughts on how this is used for level grading and not as guide to how we learn.

Level 1

Remembering

Recall – To bring back into memory, remember facts and experiences

Repeat – To do / say the same thing again, allow occurrence of the same event, to copy something the same

Identify – Recognise and indicate what something is

List – Make a register or inventory

Define – state or outline a description of the nature of something.

Recognise – to place or put a name to something, give it identity

Level 2

Understanding

Explain – Make clear, describe in detail, Give a reason for.

Describe – Give the detail on, create an account of. Outline or mark out

Compare – Examine the difference between 2 or more things

Discuss – Talk or write about something, debate issues and ideas

Translate – interpret in terms of understanding, convert / transform

Classify – Arrange into categories based on similarities

Level 3

Applying

Demonstrate – show or give proof with evidence, give a practical explanation

Apply – Put into practice, show how something can work in real terms

Show – Display, exhibit or produce

Operate – Manage the use of something, control functions

Deliver – provide on an expectation, produce something promised

Implement – Put a plan in place

Level 4

Analysing

Examine – inspect closely and thoroughly, question something

Break down – Analyse the components of.

Categorise – place in to groups

Question – Query, argue and dispute

Dissect – Study / scrutinize in detail

Distinguish – recognise something as different

Level 5

Evaluating

Justify – give good reason, provide evidence of decision

Argue – Persuade, express differing opinion

Evaluate – Form a value of, weigh up the advantages and limitations

Conclude – Arrive at a decision, give judgement, arrive at an opinion

Decide – Make a choice from alternatives, resolution of thoughts

Critique – A detailed analysis taking all sides into consideration carefully

Level 6

Creating

Compose – to write with thought and care

Develop – construct and grow something

Create – make something happen, bring something into existence

Design – generate and plan something, create an outline

Innovate – initiate new ideas and concepts, products, ideas, introduce something new

Formulate – plan, prepare and articulate something

The above is a guide only and there are of course many more action verbs to consider.

Author C Watson SVT Ltd

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