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Office of Assessment

Verb list for student learning outcomes - six levels of learning

Student learning outcomes for a degree program will encompass several levels of learning, from the acquisition of facts to the ability to think critically and solve problems. Each statement of a student learning outcome should include a VERB that represents the level of learning that is expected.

Recommendation: Write questions that test skills other than recall. Research shows that most tests administered by faculty rely too heavily on students' recall of information (Milton, Pollio, and Eison, 1986). Bloom (1956) argues that it is important for tests to measure higher-learning as well. Fuhrmann and Grasha (1983, p. 170) have adapted Bloom's taxonomy for test development. According to Bloom’s taxonomy, there are six levels of learning: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

The following is a list of verbs for use when creating student learning outcome statements:

  • To measure knowledge (common terms, facts, principles, procedures), ask these kinds of questions: Define, Describe, Identify, Label, List, Match, Name, Outline, Reproduce, Select, State. Example: "List the steps involved in titration."
  • To measure comprehension (understanding of facts and principles, interpretation of material), ask these kinds of questions: Convert, Defend, Distinguish, Estimate, Explain, Extend, Generalize, Give examples, Infer, Predict, Summarize. Example: "Summarize the basic tenets of deconstructionism."
  • To measure application (solving problems, applying concepts and principles to new situations), ask these kinds of questions: Demonstrate, Modify, Operate, Prepare, Produce, Relate, Show, Solve, Use. Example: "Calculate the deflection of a beam under uniform loading."
  • To measure analysis (recognition of unstated assumptions or logical fallacies, ability to distinguish between facts and inferences), ask these kinds of questions: Diagram, Differentiate, Distinguish, Illustrate, Infer, Point out, Relate, Select, Separate, Subdivide. Example: "In the president's State of the Union Address, which statements are based on facts and which are based on assumptions?"
  • To measure synthesis (integrate learning from different areas or solve problems by creative thinking), ask these kinds of questions: Categorize, Combine, Compile, Devise, Design, Explain, Generate, Organize, Plan, Rearrange, Reconstruct, Revise, Tell. Example: "How would you restructure the school day to reflect children's developmental needs?"
  • To measure evaluation (judging and assessing), ask these kinds of questions: Appraise, Compare, Conclude, Contrast, Criticize, Describe, Discriminate, Explain, Justify, Interpret, Support. Example: "Why is Bach's Mass in B Minor acknowledged as a classic?"

Many faculty members have found it difficult to apply this six-level taxonomy, and some educators have simplified and collapsed the taxonomy into three general levels (Crooks, 1988): The first category is knowledge (recall or recognition of specific information). The second category combines comprehension and application. The third category is described as "problem solving," transferring existing knowledge and skills to new situations.

Source/Reference : The original source has been lost (unknown). Faculty requested this information be able as an alternative format for understanding Bloom's Taxonomy. This information was original posted on the Office of Assessment web site ( www.k-state.edu/assessment ) in the summer of 2003.