Upon entering college, students are called upon to exhibit more complex levels of thinking and analysis in the papers they submit for grades. One helpful way of viewing this new challenge is through the lens of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives. Bloom believed that there were successive levels of analysis when approaching any topic: gathering and presenting knowledge; understanding or comprehending the knowledge; applying the knowledge; analyzing the knowledge; synthesizing the information to form a new whole; and evaluating the knowledge (Scholastic, 2015).  Most college-level work demands that a student primarily use the higher levels of Bloom’s taxonomy. Students should not regurgitate facts from an encyclopedia article.

When reviewing an essay or research paper you are about to submit for credit, it is important to ask yourself if you are using higher-level skills. Are you analyzing the information and creating something new or simply showing that you read the material? A truly A-level paper will exhibit independent and innovative thought. Although a college professor wants to make sure you did the reading like a high school teacher might, this is only the first component of attaining a good grade in a college-level class. Simply doing the bare, required minimum is not enough.  Your professor wants to see that you can critically analyze an argument and demonstrate its strengths and weaknesses or come up with a theory of your own to explain a particular phenomenon.

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Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (2015). Scholastic. Retrieved from: