Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Krathwohl (1921 – 2016) Affective learning taxonomy

David Reading Krathwohl was the Director of the Bureau of Educational Research at Michigan State University and held senior positions in several large research organisations. He worked alongside Benjamin Bloom and contributed to what is now known as Bloom’s taxonomy, in particular, the Affective taxonomy.

Bloom’s taxonomy is well known. Yet it was only the first of three taxonomies; 




Bloom’s Part 1 on Cognitive taxonomy was published in 1956. Part 2, however, published by Krathwohl, came eight years later in 1964 and has been somewhat overlooked. He established, for affective learning, a similar hierarchy in the Cognitive domain. 

Affective learning

Affective learning is the emotional side of learning, how learners feel, involving learners’ attitudes, interests, beliefs and motivations. This is not just the feelings and emotions one experiences as one learns but also how those affective components are internalised and used by the learner to learn and move forward in their learning journey. Motivation is an important concept in affective learning.

Krathwohl proposed six levels of affective learning:






This was seen as a hierarchical and cumulative process with increasing levels of internalisation.


To receive is to be attentive and ready to read and listen to receive knowledge. This could be reading an article, paper or book. It could also involve listening to a podcast, lecture or watching a video.  


To respond is to actively respond, participate and engage in the learning process. This involves writing essays or assignments, problem-solving, presenting, asking questions and taking part in dialogue and discussion.


To find value in one's learning is to be motivated to learn. Here one would reflect, express opinions and actively debate. You might initiate or demonstrate learning beyond participation.


To organise is to analyse, integrate and compare, ordering them according to priorities 

You might use graphs to analyse and compare, spreadsheets to classify and report, use conceptual mind-maps.


To characterise is to control your outcomes and behaviours. You may take a critical and reflective approach, or get involved in group or team collaboration, perhaps justify and perform skills.

Cognitive domain

Although Bloom's original taxonomy consisted of six categories, when Krathwohl revised it in 2001, he put emphasis on the interaction between the cognitive and affective. This is important as it proved to be a fruitful approach in the work of Damasio and others.

With Lori Anderson he also reduced Bloom’s cognitive taxonomy down to four categories or knowledge dimensions:

Factual knowledge

Conceptual knowledge

Procedural knowledge

Metacognitive knowledge

For each of these four, smaller dimensions were identified. He also changed the cognitive processes to verbs and renamed Evaluation and Synthesis to Creation.


This Affective Taxonomy suffers from the same hierarchical rigidity as Bloom’s taxonomy in the Cognitive domain. It is too rigid and hierarchical. Some even argue that there is no real taxonomy of Affective learning as it emerges from or is part of the cognitive domain. Affective factors are also difficult to identify and assess as they involve feelings, attitudes, and beliefs, so ignored as something vague and unimportant. While there is recognition that feelings and emotions play a strong role in motivation and learning, it has yet to be seen as being on a par with its cognitive counterpart.


In truth Part 2 of Bloom’s Taxonomy, published eight years after Part 1, failed to get traction and affective learning remained fairly moribund for the next 50 years. There has been recent interest in Emotional design by Donald Norman and therefore the role of emotion in learning design. Technology has also led to an interest in sentiment analysis as a tool in interpreting learning data.


Krathwohl, D. R. (2002). A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy: An Overview. Theory Into Practice, 41(4), 212–218.

Anderson, L. W., & Krathwohl, D. R. (eds.) (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom's taxonomy of educational objectives. New York: Longman.

Krathwohl, D. R., Bloom, B. S., & Masia, B. B. (1964). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals, Hand book II: Affective domain. New York: David Mckay Company Incorporated.

Bloom, B., Englehart, M. Furst, E., Hill, W., & Krathwohl, D. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals. Handbook I: Cognitive domain. New York, Toronto: Longmans, Green

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