Lorin W. Anderson
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.
Although educational objectives have been around for some time, the arrangement of objectives into a taxonomic structure is a more recent phenomenon. The first discussions of the importance of developing one or more taxonomies of educational objectives took place in the late 1940s. Since that time, taxonomies of educational objectives have been developed in three domains: cognitive, affective, and psychomotor. Numerous taxonomies, as many as 20, have been formulated in the cognitive domain.
Taxonomies of objectives have been applied (and misapplied) to curriculum planning. Furthermore, there have been many criticisms of the use of taxonomies of objectives in curriculum planning. Taxonomies of objectives are more useful after larger curricular issues have been addressed (e.g., what’s worth learning? how should time be allocated? what constraints are in placement concerning assessment and evaluation?). One of the more important applications of taxonomies in curriculum planning is in the examination and improvement of curricular alignment.