An analysis question is one that asks a student to break down something into its component parts. To analyze requires students to identify reasons, causes, or motives and reach conclusions or generalizations. Some examples of analysis questions include …
“What are some of the factors that cause rust?”
“Why did the United States go to war with England?”
“Why do we call all these animals mammals?”
Words often used in analysis questions include analyze, why, take apart, diagram, draw conclusions, simplify, distinguish, and survey.
Synthesis questions challenge students to engage in creative and original thinking. These questions invite students to produce original ideas and solve problems. There’s always a variety of potential responses to synthesis questions. Some examples of synthesis questions include …
“How would you assemble these items to create a windmill?”
“How would your life be different if you could breathe under water?”
“Construct a tower one foot tall using only four blocks.”
“Put these words together to form a complete sentence.”
Words often used in synthesis questions include compose, construct, design, revise, create, formulate, produce, and plan.
Evaluation requires an individual to make a judgment about something. We are asked to judge the value of an idea, a candidate, a work of art, or a solution to a problem. When students are engaged in decision-making and problem-solving, they should be thinking at this level. Evaluation questions do not have single right answers. Some examples of evaluation questions include …
“What do you think about your work so far?”
“What story did you like the best?”
“Do you think that the pioneers did the right thing?”
“Why do you think Benjamin Franklin is so famous?”
Words often used in evaluation questions include judge, rate, assess, evaluate, What is the best …, value, criticize, and compare.
What does all this mean? Several things, actually! It means you can ask your students several different kinds of questions. If you only focus on one type of question, your students might not be exposed to higher levels of thinking necessary to a complete understanding of a topic. If, for example, you only ask students knowledge-based questions, then your students might think that learning (a specific topic) is nothing more than the ability to memorize a select number of facts.
You can use this taxonomy to help craft a wide range of questions—from low-level thinking questions to high-level thinking questions. If variety is the spice of life, you should sprinkle a variety of question types throughout every lesson, regardless of the topic or the grade level you teach.
Bloom’s Taxonomy is not grade-specific. That is, it does not begin at the lower grades (kindergarten, first, second) with knowledge and comprehension questions and move upward to the higher grades (tenth, eleventh, twelfth) with synthesis and evaluation questions. The six levels of questions are appropriate for all grade levels.
Perhaps most important, students tend to read and think based on the types of questions they anticipate receiving from the teacher. In other words, students will tend to approach any subject as a knowledge-based subject if they are presented with an overabundance of knowledge-level questions throughout a lesson. On the other hand, students will tend to approach a topic at higher levels of thinking if they are presented with an abundance of questions at higher levels of thinking.