Using Blooms Taxonomy to Map The Learning Journey

In this blog, I am going to show you step-by-step, how you can use Blooms taxonomy to map the learning journey for your learners/performers/colleagues. How this will help you is, it will give you clarity in designing programmes and how to stage the learning so as not to overwhelm participants. It will help you to create robust learning objectives that will be linked to the improved performance of those participants on the learning journey.

For longer programmes, when writing objectives, you may be revisiting the same subject on a number of different occasions.  So, do you just have one objective or a number of objectives to cover the different stages of the learning journey? I would suggest the latter. The objectives need to build up logically, the knowledge, skills and attitudes along that journey.

During the programmes I deliver, working with trainers, facilitators or subject matter experts, I help participants on a learning journey to creating robust objectives, knowing that this helps greatly in design. I do this in stages:

  1. Introduce the thought that it is hard to write SMART objectives without some extra help – I use Robert Mager’s PCS framework. Before they can even start though, they have to be able to differentiate between aims, organisational objectives, performance objectives and learning objectives/outcomes.

Learning Objective: In a group activity correctly match the definitions, with the terms and examples, without the use of notes.

  1. Draw attention to the table of objective verbs and the reason for their classification. Discuss which verbs you should avoid using and why.

Learning Objective: As a group list at least 5 words or phrases that you should never use when setting robust objectives

  1. For a given topic explore how learning can be a mixture of knowledge, skills and attitudes according to Blooms Taxonomy.
  2. It is important you know which level of Blooms taxonomy this specific group of people need to achieve. Not all roles require learning to the same level.
  3. Walk through the Blooms taxonomy examples for each domain

Learning Objective: In your small groups determine for the case studies given, the correct domain and level of learning that is required

  1. Watch the video on objective setting and take them through the slides on Robert Mager’s PCS framework.

Learning Objective: Individually, with the use of notes write 1 learning objective on a given topic using Robert Magers PCS framework.

The first step for you, in creating great objectives, is to map the learning journey and you can use Blooms Taxonomy to help map that journey.

Here is a diagram showing Blooms taxonomy. There will be references to this in the examples I will walk you through.




This diagram was taken from my book “How Not To Waste your Money On Training”.






Here are a couple of examples to show you how you might map the learning journey, using Blooms taxonomy.

The first example is for customer service skills in a call centre:

  1. At the induction, participants learn about your customer service charter (knowledge domain – level 1 and attitudinal, level 1).
  2. From conversation with their line manager, expectations of the role are discussed. They are given their objectives and asked to describe how that might apply to their role (knowledge domain, levels 2 – 3).
  3. They observe some live calls from their colleagues and make notes about what went well and what might be even better if….? (knowledge domain, levels 2 – 3).
  4. They buddy up with an experienced colleague in their new role, who observes them during their practice sessions and gives feedback (skill domain, level 1 – 2, attitudinal domain level 2).
  5. They attend a workshop on handling objections where they get to stretch their thinking and practice some new techniques (knowledge domain level 3, skill level 2-3, attitudinal level 2-3).
  6. Once a month they are observed/recorded and they critique their own performance as well as get feedback (knowledge domain level 4, skill level 3, attitudinal level 3).
  7. In their line manager conversations, they discuss the impact of some of the feedback, how it might change their behaviours and why (attitudinal domain, level 4).

Let us now look at a practical example of being able to write good witness statements.

  1. They look at a (good)sample witness statement and learn to identify the component parts (knowledge domain – levels 1-2).
  2. They look at a bad witness statement and are able to spot the errors (knowledge domain – level 3 or 4).
  3. Learn about questioning skills and have a practice at using them (knowledge domain, levels 1-3 and skills – level 1).
  4. What are the legal requirements of a witness statement and the conditions under which it should be taken? (knowledge domain level 3)
  5. How should you prepare to make a statement? (knowledge domain, level 3 attitudinal level 2).
  6. Practice interview skills (skills domain, level 3).
  7. Observe someone else doing an interview and assess their statement as to whether it is acceptable (knowledge domain, level 4).
  8. Conduct an interview in a role play and score well on the observation sheet (skill domain, level 3, attitudinal level 3).

Below is another diagram showing Blooms taxonomy examples. Once your journey has been mapped, you can use the relevant verbs and Robert Magers’ PCS framework, to create robust objectives for each part of that journey.

Blooming Marvellous!

When I discovered Blooms Taxonomy first of all…. I was confused, then frustrated and now I absolutely love it!

The first thing that frustrated me was the word TAXONOMY – it just means classification so why use something that sounds so complicated?


The next thing was the names of the domains:

  • Cognitive (Knowledge)
  • Affective (Attitudes)
  • Psychomotor (Skills)

Again , why make it sound so complicated when it is so easy?

What I love about it, is the way I use it to determine the gaps in peoples knowledge, skills or attitudes and then the level to which they need to get better. Having determined that a need is down to a gap in learning and not in resources, relationships, processes etc I ask myself a question:

Is this a knowledge, skill or attitudinal gap?

I can determine the answer to this question (and whether it is a combination of 2 or 3) by thinking:

Is it something that has to be in peoples’ heads? A knowledge thing? Something you will only know if they have got if they, describe, explain, list or tell you about it?


Or is it a skill thing? Something that you will see them doing or that there is some visible output? It may be a physical skill (hence the ‘hands’)

Or is it the way they should be doing something? A heart thing? Their attitude?


Or is it a combination of all three?

Once it is clear in my mind which domain the learning falls into, then it requires some thought for the level of the learning. A simple example would be GDPR(General data Protection Principles) mandatory training. This is both a knowledge thing and also an attitudinal thing. It might even become a skill thing depending on which level you operate in the organisation.

Mandatory training for all staff can be tedious and if you make it generic it may not hit the mark with a lot of people. Let’s examine for different groups of people what they might actually need:

For colleagues you might want them:

  • To be able to explain what their responsibilities are with regards their role and GDPR 
  • As a team to be able to identify possible data security risks in their own team 
  • Follow the GDPR policy and advocate its use to other team members 

For line managers:

  • To be able to explain what their responsibilities are with regards their role and GDPR 
  • As a team to be able to identify possible and actual data security risks in their own team 
  • With other line managers, outline a GDPR plan for their team to ensure that their approach is regularly reviewed 
  • Follow the GDPR policy and advocate its use to other team members 
  • Be role model for GDPR

For the Data Protection Officer:

  • To be able to explain what their responsibilities are with regards their role and GDPR 
  • To be able to identify data security risks within their own team and the organisation
  • With other line managers, outline a GDPR plan for their team to ensure that their approach is regularly reviewed 
  • Put together and communicates a policy which safeguards the data within the organisation according to GDPR
  • Be role model for GDPR
  • Inspires others to follow the GDPR policy 

From the above you can see that some of the learning could be used for all levels, but for some you need to take them to the next level and maybe beyond. Looking at the picture at the top of the article therefore Blooms Taxonomy can be used to determine the level of learning but also map out a path for learning for different groups of individuals. It is worth noting that you cannot just leap to the top level in any domain without spending some time at the lower levels.

If this is slowly starting to make sense or needs more clarification then watch this short video or chat to me



Walk this way…part 5….. an explicit objective setting process

walk this wayThis is the fifth in this new series of blogs called “Walk this way”, where I am inviting you, the reader, to follow my view on what a good approach to learning would look like.




Here is an overview of the whole approach, showing clearly the 6 steps.IMG_5170

This time we will look at the 5th step – “There is an explicit and practical objective setting process“.

Of those people that know me well, no one would deny that I am “hot” on objectives, some might say to the point of obsession. I make no excuses for this because I truly believe that in L&D we should always “Begin with the end in mind”, as Steven Covey said. I just checked my blog history and 16 of my blogs have a mention of objectives, including one writes for consultants asking “Are you too expensive?” and another asking “Do you know how to be objective?”, which checks to see if you know the difference between aims, organisational objectives, performance objectives and learning objectives.

So why this obsession with objectives and objective setting? Well let me first put it into context, it has to be as part of the whole approach – objective setting units own will not yield results if the previous 4 steps are missing. It will however give focus to learning as part of this approach that I am putting forward. Quite simply, by having an explicit objective setting process that everyone uses, we can drill down to;

  • What the organisation needs (by looking at organisational goals and plans)
  • Select which aspects of performance you need to improve (with line managers)
  • Design the learning outcomes you need to meet the organisational needs

So here is a short video that may help you  in this topic. Would love to hear your thoughts about the importance of objectives.

This is the fifth blog in a series of six.

“Walk this way” – the whole blog series.

If you would like to know more about The Learning Loop® and this approach, then please contact me. Or better still, consider booking onto one of the open Learning Loop courses or come to one of our Showcase events.

©Krystyna Gadd 2016

Walk this way…part 1

walk this wayIn my learning and development career, I have been on a journey and in this series of blogs I would love to invite you to “Walk this way…”  or in other words follow my view on what a good approach to learning would look like.

3 years ago I developed a game for training trainers, called The Learning Loop® and this game uses an approach to L&D which I have been using over the last 25+ years as an L&D professional.

So over the next 6 blogs I am going to be expanding on The Learning Loop® approach.

Here is an overview of the whole approach, showing clearly the 6 steps.IMG_5170

So the first step is:

“Everyone (who works in L&D) understands the whole cycle.”

I began writing this by including the text in brackets and then rethought this…. thinking “Everyone understand the whole cycle”.

So what is my thinking? My thinking has been around “why does L&D not get involved in change when it needs to be?” and “what has this to do with perceptions of L&D within the organisation?”

The perception and expectation of your stakeholders may be that L&D will deliver effective learning solutions. However L&D is often not “knitted-in” to the business, resulting in L&D professionals that don’t fully understand how the business works. Under such circumstances, L&D will find it difficult to deliver effective learning solutions. The net result may be an under-resourced L&D function because it is not perceived as being a strategic to the business. Not only that, L&D will find its resources continually under threat because it is not seen as adding value to the business. Such an L&D function will often find that it is reactive and will not have the time and space to be pro-active and it certainly will not be performing a needs analysis. This is a vicious cycle.

Some L&D  professionals that I have spoken with see that L&D is about design and delivery. Using The Learning Loop® you will get a holistic view of L&D’s role within an organisation. You will be able to see that you should be spending much more time on ANALYSIS before DESIGN and the analysis phase should be involving the stakeholders and setting great objectives for your learning.

Going through the full learning cycle will also allow you to improve your stakeholders understanding of what L&D can deliver through being able to better EVALUATE what has been delivered in the DELIVERY phase. Resources would be made available for needs analysis because it would be understood why they are necessary and, crucially, analysis would be easier because people would be more forthcoming with information to improve the whole process. This would mean a different and deeper relationship between the stakeholders and L&D. A virtuous cycle.

Also, when I have spoken with L&D professionals, some do not fully grasp how close the relationship between the analysis and evaluation phases of the learning cycle should be. The benefit of adopting a closed-loop learning cycle will not only be more impactful L&D, but one in which that impact can be better understood by both L&D and the stakeholders and improve future stakeholder involvement. So if everyone understands the whole cycle…… it means:

  • Stakeholders understand that you can deliver useful change
  • Stakeholders understand that you add value rather than being a cost which means that get get the budgets you need
  • You get better results because you always do some sort of analysis beforehand
  • The people in the organisation understand their role in the learning process and become active rather than passive learners.

If you would like to know more about The Learning Loop® please contact me. Or better still, consider booking onto one of the open Learning Loop courses or come to one of our Showcase events.

This is the first blog in a series of six.

“Walk this way” – the whole blog series.

©Krystyna Gadd 2016

Your training budget has been cut…again

There is a truism that training and R&D are the first places to get hit when companies want to cut costs.  But how do companies get to the point of cutting these areas that are vital to future success?


When speaking to companies I often hear of the intense pressure on L&D to “deliver” and as a result, staff are under pressure to do more and more with less and less.  Let’s be clear, no organisation has an unlimited training budget (but if there is one, please contact me immediately!) but I don’t think it is necessary either.

Senior executives have to see a correlation between the value that L&D brings to an organisation and business results.  If they can’t see one, then that is an uncomfortable place to have to be because it may mean a skill gap in both L&D and senior management.

You might think the way to show a link is through measurement?  Not necessarily. Certainly it is much easier for large organisations to measure lots of things these days using IT, yet it does not mean that you are measuring the right things.  You can only measure the right things when you have a comprehensive understanding of your business and the business environment in which you operate.  Once you have found the areas, which make your business successful, doing a good analysis at the start, you can then decide how best to measure performance in those areas.

When you have made those links you will need to identify the stakeholders and agree objectives.  That may sound simplistic but this is a great truth for many organisational activities – well beyond L&D!  Identifying stakeholders is important and gets much more difficult with large and complicated organisations.  This can also become problematical in large organisations when people who were not considered in the initial consultations undermine the L&D initiatives. There are ways of minimising this but, again, it’s for further discussion.

So, L&D can deliver! And L&D can be very effective if it delivers to objectives that are linked to real business success.

You can read more about our approach to learning through “The Learning Loop approach“.

Are you too expensive?


IMG_1415 has a prospective client ever told you that you are too expensive and what has been your response? There are, of course a number of responses that are possible:

  • Reduce your price, do the work, but resent how much effort you put in for little reward
  • Find ways to reduce the cost but let them know that the quality will suffer
  • Stick to your guns and say you cannot reduce your price any lower than it is, risk losing the business
  • Put together a business case for them which demonstrates ROI (return on investment)


When this has happened to me it has caused me to reflect and to ask myself the following questions:

  • Did I really understand their needs?
  • Did they really understand their needs?
  • If they think I am expensive, is my product/service really comparable to others who are much cheaper?
  • Is the quality I provide too high?
  • Did I help them sufficiently, to uncover how they could realise their return on the investment?

Some of my clients are already at the point, where they can easily put together a business case for learning, with real tangible outputs. In the past year I have collected some of their organisational objectives, that they have set for the training I deliver:

  • From the best companies survey in October 2016 to see an improvement of the personal growth factor of 2.5% from a baseline taken in October 2015.
  • By October 2016 to see 10% less bought in training in the period October 1st 2015 to September 30th 2016 compared to the previous year and seeing a cost saving of >= xxxxx
  • For the period January 1st to March 30th 2016 to see an improvement in the level 1 evaluations for those already training of 4%. (allowing a 3 month time lag to make changes in their existing training)
  • The normal ratio of 1:8 delivery:design days will be achieved. Currently around 10-12 days hence a time/cost saving
  • Client feedback will be more than “ok”
  • A decrease in the unit cost (£)
  • An increase in delegate numbers
  • An increase in demand for our learning interventions (more “touches”)

Can you spot which objectives you could use to put together a business case?

Here are my choices for great organisational objectives that can easily translate into some tangible measures:

  • By October 2016 to see 10% less bought in training in the period October 1st 2015 to September30th 2016 compared to the previous year and seeing a cost saving of >= xxxxx
  • The normal ratio of 1:8 delivery:design days will be achieved. Currently around 10-12 – days hence a time/cost saving
  • A decrease in the unit cost (£)
  • An increase in delegate numbers – added value – more trainees and greater improvements through the organisation

For each client, I can help them put together a business case for implementing the training, but they have to know what they are trying to achieve, or I have to ask the right questions to uncover this. If they think it is a “nice to have” or “they haven’t had any training for a while”sort of thing …. with the best will in the world you are always going to look expensive!

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