Bloom's Taxonomy: Grading Reading Comprehension
Bloom's Taxonomy offers a sequential method of grading a student's ability to comprehend a higher-level work of academic writing. According to Granello (2010), while she grants that the stages of the taxonomy are not absolutes, they are useful in painting a general portrait of how the "predominant skills and assumptions are perceived" by the teacher of the student's maturity and depth of perception (Granello 2001, 299).
The first stage of understanding is that of simple knowledge. For example, someone reading an article on Shakespeare should be able to understand that the main idea of the work was focused on the tragedy of Hamlet, and the specifics of the play. The second stage, comprehension, is the ability to understand and explain the main ideas of the work. Someone with only a rough knowledge of how to assimilate academic material often simply lists facts when trying to describe what he or she has read. However, a person who can comprehend the text can summarize the reading in a coherent way for a listener or reader.
The third stage, application, means that the reader can use the information he or she has read in a new fashion, beyond the specifics of the text. For example, the reader of the hypothetical Hamlet article...
The fifth stage, synthesis, asks the reader to actually able to create something new from the material. Can he or she write a new article, engaging with the concepts of the original and come up with a new way of looking at Hamlet him or herself? The final, sixth stage is evaluation, and requires the reader to be able to place the scholarship in a larger context of other written literature. This is considered the highest stage because it requires some sense of previous scholarly context of the article. Some articles may have been important in a field years ago, but are not relevant to the current conversations going on within the discipline.
Bloom's Taxonomy can be a useful tool for a writer because it forces the writer to ask him or herself if he or she is really critically engaging with the material, or simply regurgitating the assumptions of the article's author. Am I actually looking at the material in a new way, analyzing it, and synthesizing to say something new, or am I just restating the writer's points? These are helpful questions to ask before finalizing an essay.…
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