Facilitating learning in practice
Facilitating learning in practice

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Facilitating learning in practice

4.2 Examining the relevance of Bloom’s model to your mentoring practice

In many respects, the one-dimensional depiction of each domain suggests a simplicity that is probably misleading. In each domain, there is an expectation of increasing complexity and competence, whether that is in knowledge and understanding (the cognitive domain), attitudes and values (the affective domain), or in skills (the psychomotor domain).

You would probably find evidence of the use of Bloom’s Taxonomy, or an adaptation of it, in many nursing programmes across the UK. This would predominantly be seen in the construction of learning outcomes that are often expressed under headings such as knowledge and understanding, cognitive and professional skills – which all align to Bloom’s thinking. Given that learning outcomes clarify the intent of the programme and are the building blocks upon which assessment is determined and measured, the importance of Bloom’s work cannot be ignored.

At the beginning of this section, it was suggested that the model can help structure the design of questions that enable you to promote learning in others as well as serve as a platform for the assessment of learning. Let’s briefly look at that as a final activity for this week’s study.

Table 4 is an extract taken from work by Don Clark (1999) and published online [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] . This uses the revised categories of the cognitive domain and provides examples of activities (in this case broadly focused), along with key words that could indicate whether learning has occurred at the desired level.

Table 4 Revised cognitive domain (adapted from Clark, 1999)

Category Examples and key words (verbs)
Remembering: Recall or retrieve previous learned information.

Examples: Recites the safety rules.

Key words: defines, describes, identifies, knows, labels, lists, matches, names, outlines, recalls, recognises, reproduces, selects, states.

Understanding: Comprehending the meaning, translation, interpolation and interpretation of instructions and problems. State a problem in one's own words.

Examples: Explains in one's own words the steps for performing a complex task.

Key words: comprehends, converts, defends, distinguishes, estimates, explains, extends, generalises, gives an example, infers, interprets, paraphrases, predicts, rewrites, summarises, translates.

Applying: Uses a concept in a new situation or unprompted use of an abstraction. Applies what was learned in the classroom into novel situations in the workplace.

Examples: Applies laws of statistics to evaluate the reliability of a written test.

Key words: applies, changes, computes, constructs, demonstrates, discovers, manipulates, modifies, operates, predicts, prepares, produces, relates, shows, solves, uses.

Analysing: Separates material or concepts into component parts so that its organisational structure may be understood. Distinguishes between facts and inferences.

Examples: Gathers information from a department and selects the required tasks for training.

Key words: analyses, breaks down, compares, contrasts, diagrams, deconstructs, differentiates, discriminates, distinguishes, identifies, illustrates, infers, outlines, relates, selects, separates.

Evaluating: Makes judgements about the value of ideas or materials.

Examples: Explains and justifies a new budget.

Key words: appraises, compares, concludes, contrasts, criticises, critiques, defends, describes, discriminates, evaluates, explains, interprets, justifies, relates, summarises, supports.

Creating: Builds a structure or pattern from diverse elements. Puts parts together to form a whole, with emphasis on creating a new meaning or structure.

Examples: Designs a machine to perform a specific task.

Key words: categorises, combines, compiles, composes, creates, devises, designs, explains, generates, modifies, organises, plans, rearranges, reconstructs, relates, reorganises, revises, rewrites, summarises, tells, writes.

Activity 5 Applying characteristics of Bloom’s model

Allow 30 minutes

Use the following example:

You are supporting in a mentoring role a first placement student nurse who has admitted to having very limited experience of healthcare practices prior to starting their pre-registration nursing programme six months ago. The student is now on the final week of their placement and you have arranged a meeting with them to discuss their progress.

In all fields of nursing practice, one of the areas for development that needs to be met by students is that ‘people can trust the nurse to respect them as individuals and strive to help them preserve their dignity at all times’. (Domain 1: Care, Compassion and Communication). The specific skills underpinning this overarching statement (NMC, 2010, pp. 107–8) are for the student to:

  • demonstrate respect for diversity and individual preference, valuing differences, regardless of personal view
  • engage with people in a way that ensures dignity is maintained through making appropriate use of the environment, self and skills, and adopting the appropriate attitude
  • use ways to maximise communication where hearing, vision or speech is compromised.

Using one or more of the above statements, determine the following:

  1. What categorisation in Bloom’s cognitive domain would reflect achievement of your chosen statement(s)?
  2. What activities or behaviours might you observe that would lead you to believe that the student has achieved this competence?


Let’s just look at the third competence statement: ‘use ways to maximise communication where hearing, vision or speech is compromised’. The adjective here is ‘use’. Looking again at Table 4, ‘use’ is part of the ‘Applying’ categorisation, i.e. that the student is able to apply what is learnt in the workplace. Although an inexact science, this is probably a fair representation of the complexity of the skills that would need to be shown to demonstrate the competence. It would definitely require more than ‘remembering’ and ‘understanding’ what to do; the application here is crucial. So in reality they are probably at Tier 3 of six in the cognitive domain at this time.

The second part of this activity asked for behaviours that might suggest competence. In considering this statement, you might, as a mentor, assess the student’s interactions with service users who have compromised aural, visual and oral functions. Did the student adjust their techniques to provide person-centred care? Were their interventions effective? Did you receive feedback from service users themselves to affirm or discredit your assumptions?

Mentorship programme

In this exercise you have only looked at one competence against one domain – that of the cognitive domain. If you are studying this course as part of an NMC mentor preparation programme, please extend this activity to look at more competencies required of pre-registration nursing students at the three progression points in the Standards for Pre-registration Nursing Education, considering each across cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains as defined on the Big Dog & Little Dog’s Performance Juxtaposition website.

This is a substantial piece of work, but will provide you with an opportunity to consider very carefully the expectations of students of nursing across levels of their programme and what you might look for when asked to support, guide and assess the student in meeting these competencies.


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