Learning objectives: the importance of trigger verbs

Right arrowI’m not sure whether it was because I was new to the profession, but it was during my teaching practices that I attended two in-service training events that have had a profound inuence on my teaching. The first, about the use of body language and voice in the classroom I shall share in a future post. This post builds on Learning objectives: the basics, and concerns the second: the use of trigger verbs when framing lesson objectives.

It’s important to use these ‘trigger verbs’ – words that relate specifically to actions – when framing learning objectives for (or indeed, with) students. Sometimes, however, it’s difficult to know which trigger verbs to use. Is, for example, interpreting a high-order skill than categorizing?

The document below () is based on an original by Ron Rooney of the Education Development Service and provides some clarification. Let me say in advance that I’m aware that some people believe that Synthesis and Evaluation should switch positions from that given in Bloom’s original taxonomy. I’m just providing the document largely as it was given to me. 🙂

You should have the options to both download this as a Microsoft Word-formatted document and print it using the buttons below the table. ‘KS3’ and ‘GCSE’ stand for ‘Key Stage 3’ and ‘General Certificate of Secondary Education’ respectively. You can remove or change these if they are not relevant to where you are or what you’re doing!

What do you think? Is this useful? Is it out of date? :-p


Doug Belshaw

Husband, father, educator, consultant. I help people to think and act in more clear and open ways, with and without computers. Ex-@mozilla #digilit #openbadges


4 thoughts on “Learning objectives: the importance of trigger verbs

  1. Thanks for the list of trigger verbs and linking this to Bloom’s Taxonomy. I had a question about the grades given and relating these to Bloom’s Taxonomy. Could you not have a grade “A” given for a piece of work at the Application level of BT? Why not?

    1. As I mention above – I didn’t come up with this, I’m just throwing it out there ‘as is’. To be honest, I don’t link it to the GCSE grades, but *do* find it useful at Key Stage 3 for levels. :-)

  2. Really helpful. I’ve been looking into ways of trying to improve my questioning – particularly for my most able students. ‘Framing’ the questions is not yet instinctive for me, so I have been trying out building questions relating to different topics such as ‘Of Mice and Men’ using Bloom’s taxonomy so that I can then direct them at specific students.

  3. Hi Doug,
    Blooms is useful as a framework for thinking but be careful about sticking too firmly to it as a hierarchy. The ‘levels’ are interdependent and influence each other rather than being mutually exclusive. Social constructivist learning theory which is the basis of much of what we do in schools, particularly around technology integration gives a more holistic framework.
    The model of thinking I like is the SOLO taxonomy. It focuses on the levels of integration of thinking as indicative of the ‘level’ the children are operating at. A google search will give a lot of information about it. In our school teachers have found it a useful structure for their planning and assessment of learning, as well as their own planning.
    Even 5yr olds synthesise and evaluate as part of their learning. We need to challenge all learners to be the best they can be rather than rely too much on a single model.

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