Learning Theories in Education

Learning Theories in Education

The Cognitive Domain (Bloom’s Taxonomy)

This was the first domain to be proposed in 1956 and it focuses on the idea that objectives that are related to cognition could be divided into subdivisions and ranked in order of cognitive difficulty.

These ranked subdivisions are what we commonly refer to as Bloom’s taxonomy. The original subdivisions are as follows (knowledge is the lowest with evaluation being the most cognitively difficult):







However, there was a major revision of the subdivisions in 2000-01 by Bloom’s original partner, David Krathwohl and his colleague, Lorin Anderson (Anderson was a former student of Bloom’s).

The Psychomotor Domain

The psychomotor domain refers to those objectives that are specific to reflex actions interpretive movements and discreet physical functions.

A common misconception is that physical objectives that support cognitive learning fit the psycho-motor label, for example; dissecting a heart and then drawing it.

While these are physical (kinesthetic) actions, they are a vector for cognitive learning, not psycho-motor learning.

Psychomotor learning refers to how we use our bodies and senses to interact with the world around us, such as learning how to move our bodies in dance or gymnastics.

Anita Harrow classified different types of learning in the psycho-motor domain from those that are reflex to those that are more complex and require precise control.

Reflex movements. These movements are those that we possess from birth or appear as we go through puberty. They are automatic, that is they do not require us to actively think about them e.g. breathing, opening and closing our pupils or shivering when cold.

Fundamental movements. These are those actions that are the basic movements, running, jumping, walking etc and commonly form part of more complex actions such as playing a sport.

Perceptual abilities. This set of abilities features those that allow us to sense the world around us and coordinate our movements in order to interact with our environment. They include visual, audio and tactile actions.

Physical abilities. These abilities refer to those involved with strength, endurance, dexterity and flexibility etc.

Skilled movements. Objectives set in this area are those that include movements learned for sport (twisting the body in high diving or trampolining), dance or playing a musical instrument (placing fingers on guitar strings to produce the correct note). It is these movements that we sometimes use the layman’s term “muscle memory”.

Non-discursive communication. Meaning communication without writing, non-discursive communication refers to physical actions such as facial expressions, posture and gestures.

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