Critical Thinking and the Cognitive Learning Domain
W. T. Wilkes, Sr., Ph.D.
In 1948, Benjamin Bloom led a committee of educators in developing educational
thinking objectives (Forehand, 2005). These objectives were completed in 1956 (Huitt, 2004)
and are now known as “Bloom‟s Taxonomy,” comprising three learning dimensions: Cognitive,
Affective, and Psychomotor (Atherton, 2005), each having progressive levels of attainment.
While most accredit Bloom with all three domains, Huitt accredited Bloom with the Cognitive
but claimed the affective and psychomotor domains were developed by others (p. 1). Atherton,
however, accredited Bloom with all three, but regarding the psychomotor stated:
Bloom never completed work on this domain, and there have been several attempts to
complete it. One of the simplest versions has been suggested by Dave (1975): it fits with
the model of developing skill put forward by Reynolds (1965), and it also draws attention
to the fundamental role of imitation in skill acquisition. (p. 3)
Bloom‟s work is viewed as seminal in promoting critical thinking among students.
Wakefield (1998) stated: “Critical thinking theory finds its roots primarily in the works of
Benjamin Bloom as he classified learning behaviours in the cognitive domain” (p. 1). The levels,
especially in the cognitive domain, demonstrate the level of thinking skills employed by the
student and should be fostered by the educator through assessment questions, encouraging the
student from simply dwelling in the lower levels of thinking to the higher levels of thinking
skills. Although Bloom‟s work has remained an educational assessment staple for more than fifty
years, there have been revisions to the taxonomy (Forehand, 2005), and according to Dettmer
(2006), “It is time to review the original version for ways it might be made more relevant and
powerful for present day teaching and learning” (p. 3). In an appraisal of the three leaning...