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Applying Bloom’s Taxonomy in the Classroom

Pencil writing on paper - why?In our next installment of articles about English for Academic Purposes, Ann Snow, a series consultant for Q Skills for Success, explores the levels of critical thinking in Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Bloom’s Taxonomy of cognitive objectives has been around for a long time. Since 1956, it has served as a guide for teachers to think about how they can design lessons that will help their students to think critically. Basically, the taxonomy designed by Benjamin Bloom and his colleagues provides a way to describe levels of thinking. The taxonomy is essentially a hierarchy, with knowledge as the first level and evaluation as the sixth level. I’ve listed the six levels below and included an example of each in parentheses.

  • Knowledge – recalling information (e.g. answering comprehension questions from a reading)
  • Comprehension – interpreting information (e.g. discussing why a character behaved in a particular way)
  • Application – using knowledge gained to solve problems (e.g. applying information from one situation to a different situation in a debate activity)
  • Analysis – breaking down concepts or ideas to understand the relationship of the parts to the whole (e.g. analyzing prefixes to see how word meanings change)
  • Synthesis – putting together something original from learned information (e.g. writing an essay; making an oral presentation)
  • Evaluation – judging something against specific criteria (e.g. peer editing using a checklist or rubric)

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What makes a family business successful?

Antique cashier till on shop counterAs part of our series of posts exploring a “question-centered” teaching approach, we asked Wayne Rivers, President of the Family Business Institute, to give us his thoughts on the above question, featured in the new course Q Skills for Success.

As the co-founder and President of the Family Business Institute, I have written extensively on what makes family businesses successful.

For first generation family businesses, I believe the primary ingredients for success are a focused vision and finding a viable economic niche.

The typical founder of a family business understands the technical skills of his or her industry. These ambitious individuals take their technical experience, say “I can do this better,” and, with a great burst of energy and courage, start their own enterprises.

First generation entrepreneurs are strong personalities, optimistic in outlook, and – even though faced with crisis after crisis – are never deterred in the pursuit of their visions.

But what about the sons and daughters, wives or husbands, who take the business forward? Transitioning and subsequent generation family business leaders require more and varied skills to be successful.

They must develop their capabilities in communication, business finance and planning, and leadership development and training.  Starting a successful family business is one of the most difficult things a person can do.  Keeping that business successful over the generations is even more challenging.

In the US, family businesses account for over half of employment and almost two-thirds of gross domestic product.  Family business, in short, is BIG BUSINESS.  The same is true the world over.

The people who achieve successful family businesses combine these different skill sets and invest plenty of hard work, determination, thrift, and perseverance.


Wayne Rivers is the President of The Family Business Institute, Inc.  FBI’s mission is to deliver interpersonal, operational and financial solutions to help family and closely-held businesses achieve breakthrough success.

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Why does something become popular?

Stack of different denim jeansAs part of our series of posts exploring a “question-centered” teaching approach, we asked Douglas Holt, co-author of Cultural Strategy: How Innovative Ideologies Build Breakthrough Brands, to give us his thoughts on the above question, featured in the new course Q Skills for Success.

As a Professor of Marketing at Oxford University, I am very interested in how icons and brands become popular.

I believe that popularity works through two very different processes. The most intuitive for most of us is the ‘fads and fashions’ process.

People, brands, and styles become popular because the right people have adopted it — rich people, celebrities, opinion leaders, hipsters in subcultures — and we copy them in the eternal human quest to be fashionable and admired.

My work examines the second popularity process — the emergence of cultural icons — a far more durable and powerful form of popularity, and much less well understood.

Icons emerge because they express a particular ideology that society demands at a particular historical moment.

Consider Gloria Steinhem or Ann Coulter, Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela, John Wayne or Bono, Ronald Reagan or Hugo Chavez, Greenpeace or Focus on the Family.

These individuals and groups became immensely influential by advancing innovative ideology, and thereby developing intensely loyal followers.

Or consider farmer/cookbook author/television host Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, author Michael Pollan, the international Slow Food movement, and the American grocery retailer Whole Foods Market, amongst others, which have transformed food consumption for the upper middle class.

These cultural innovators have championed an alternative approach to agriculture and food. They have made an ideological challenge to the dominant scientific–industrial food ideology. They have brought to life the value, even necessity, of winding the clock back to some sort of pre-industrial food culture in such a way that it is irresistible for the upper middle class in the United States, the United Kingdom, and many other countries.

We call this phenomenon “Cultural Innovation”. It is something that can be thoughtfully researched and planned, unlike the seemingly random birth of fads and fashions.


Douglas Holt is L’Oréal Professor of Marketing at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, UK, and previously a professor at the Harvard Business School, USA. He is the co-author of Cultural Strategy: How Innovative Ideologies Build Breakthrough Brands (OUP).

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How do people prefer to get the news today?

Wall of TV News screensAs part of our series of posts exploring a “question-centered” teaching approach, we asked Luciano Floridi, author of Information: A Very Short Introduction, to give us his thoughts on the above question, featured in the new course Q Skills for Success.

I am a philosopher of information, and I spend most of my time studying Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

I think people like to get their news “lessly”. First, effortlessly. We like to be informed, but there is a trade-off between what we are willing to do to get our news and their value. The less effort it takes the better.

Second, seamlessly. We like to move between different informational spaces without noticing any gap or barrier. I enjoy reading a magazine online at home and then keep listening to it while driving to my office.

Luckily, ICTs are good at “lessly” applications. They are lowering the barriers between us and the news we are interested in. This is user-friendliness. And they are lowering the barriers between different information formats and media.

This synchronisation between our information sources is increasingly transparent. Currently, such effortless and seamless access to news is causing a problem: too much information.

We would prefer to get our news painlessly. This third “lessly” is not here yet, but our future technologies will be smart enough to provide only what it is relevant to us and we care about – anytime, anywhere. That will be how people will prefer to get their news tomorrow.

Find out how you can use questions like “How do people prefer to get the news today?” in class.


Luciano Floridi is Research Chair in Philosophy of Information and UNESCO Chair of Information and Computer Ethics at the University of Hertfordshire, UK. He is also a fellow of St Cross College, University of Oxford UK and the author of Information: A Very Short Introduction (OUP).

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How can we be better global citizens?

Businessmen and women walking over a modern city bridgeAs part of our series of posts exploring a “question-centered” teaching approach, we asked Richard Bellamy, author of Citizenship: A Very Short Introduction, to give us his thoughts on the above question, featured in the new course Q Skills for Success.

Like most people, I was shocked by the recent earthquake in Haiti and gave to the charities providing emergency relief for the victims.

Does that make me a better global citizen than those who also had the money yet failed to donate anything? Many people think so but I disagree.

These are acts of charity. They reflect our common humanity. Such actions make the world a better place. But we perform them in a personal capacity – as one individual to another.

What about buying fair trade goods, lobbying the G7, or calling for more development aid? These are acts of citizenship. They seek political action to make the rules governing global trade more just.

Yet we perform them not as global citizens but as citizens of different states who wish our governments to act with greater global responsibility.

A global citizen would have to belong to a global state. That is neither necessary nor desirable. Smaller political units allow for greater diversity and give citizens a greater say over how they are governed.

We can do more to promote global justice, but we do so by better fulfilling our global obligations at home rather than abroad – be it personally, locally or nationally.

Find out how you can use questions like “How can we be better global citizens?” in class.


Richard Bellamy is a Professor of Political Science and Director of the European Institute at University College London (UCL), UK, and is the author of Citizenship: A Very Short Introduction (OUP).

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