Cognitive, Affective and Psychomotor Domains for Assessments


A test may be defined as a measuring instrument with which a class teacher measures the qualitative amount of knowledge acquired during the course of instructions. An instructional objective ranges from the general objectives of education to objectives for a given lesson. Each of these objectives has an important function in education. In classroom situations, we make use of action verbs such as list, do, evaluate, draw, label, and distinguish. Solve, illustrate, measure. The objectives must be specific and measurable so that there can be no doubt as to whether or it were achieved by the end of the instruction.

Several attempts have been made to clarify and develop the concept of instructional objectives. A comprehensive and useful form of classifying instructional objectives was propounded by Benjamin Bloom.  He titled it Taxonomy of Educational Objectives Bloom (1956) classified all objectives into three domains. The components of educational assessment contents therefore include cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains.

  • Cognitive domain/content
  • Affective domain/content
  • Psychomotor domain/content

Cognitive domain/content

This is a branch of psychology that is being applied in education. It is connected with mental processes of understanding. It provides important tools for examining the process that affects the quality of answers provided to questions. The cognitive domain contains objectives that embrace the call or recognition of learned materials and the development of intellectual abilities and skills. Most of the teaching and learning activities that go on in the classroom fall within this category. The teacher tends to concentrate on the evaluation of behavior in this area.

According to educational psychologists, there are six levels to cognitive domain methods namely knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. In the cognitive approach, the higher levels subsume ability in lower levels because more mental operation is required.

Levels of cognitive domains

Knowledge: Comprehension facts refer to the level of objectives that involve the recall or remembering of specific facts or principles. These are called remember or recall information such as facts, terminologies, rules, consequences, effects, etc. The actions describing learning outcomes are define, name, describe, outline, recall, label, select, state, match, recite, etc.

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Comprehension: This is often referred to as level of understanding. It requires the ability of students to demonstrate an understanding of the lesson by being able to apply and interpret given facts. Restate what has been read or heard, see similarities and differences, and then draw conclusions. The actions describing learning outcomes include explain, defend, distinguish summarise, differentiate, predict, estimate, etc.

Application: This level of objective involves the ability to apply rules, theories, and principles appropriate for a new situation without any induction of clues. This approach has to do with previously acquired information in a setting other than the one in which it was learned because problems at this level are presented in a different way. The actions describing learning outcomes are change, organize, compute, prepare, relate, solve, develop, transfer, use, etc.

Analysis: This is the ability to break apart a concept into its component parts and show the internal relationship between these parts.  This approach requires the identification of logical errors, e.g. g. pointing out contradictions, erroneous inferences, or differences among facts, opinions, assumptions, etc. The actions describing learning outcomes are breakdown, deduce, outline, relate, distinguish, point out, outline diagram, infer, etc.

Synthesis: This involves the arrangement and combination of ideas into a coherent pattern or structure. It requires the production of something unique or original. At this level, one is expected to solve unfamiliar problems in a unique way. The actions describing learning outcomes are categorise, devise, compile, compose, predict, create, produce, design, etc.

Evaluation: This is the qualitative and quantitative judgment about the extent to which materials and methods satisfy the criteria laid down by the teachers or students. This requires the formation of judgments and decisions about the value of methods, ideas, and people. The basics for the judgment must be stated. The actions describing learning outcomes are appraising, judging, comparing, contrasting, criticizing, defending, validating, etc.

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2. Affective domain/content

Affective domain/content implies that individuals experience emotional reactions to certain situations. It is used to determine the effects of a particular concept, principle, situation, etc. Like the cognitive domain, the affective domain is hierarchical with higher levels being more complex. Students become more involved in learning education or subject.

Levels of Affective domain/content

Characterization: All behavior displayed is consistent with the value system of the society. Evaluation at this level involves the extent to which one has developed a consistent philosophy of life e. g. exhibits respect for the dignity of human beings in all situations. The actions describing learning outcomes include avoid, display, exhibit, manage, require, resist, resolve, revise, internalize, etc.

Organization: There is a high commitment to a set of values at this stage. Students and society form reasons why some values are not appropriate and make the right choices. Likes and preferences are organized for quick decisions. The actions describing learning outcomes  include balance, formulate, select, compare, decide, theorize, abstract, etc.

Valuing: Students display behavior consistent with a single belief or attitude in situations where they are either forced or asked to comply. They are also expected to demonstrate a high degree of certainty and conviction. The actions describing learning outcomes are act, express, help, convince, debate, prefer, display, organize, etc.

Responding: They are required to comply with given expectations by attending or reacting to certain stimuli. They are expected to obey, participate, or respond willingly when asked or directed to do something. The actions describing learning outcomes are attend, listen, look control, share, discern, be aware, etc.

Receiving: Students are expected to be aware of or to passively attend to certain stimuli or phenomena. Their role is to listen and be attentive to positive expectations. The actions describing learning outcomes include attend, listen, be aware control, notice, share, hear, discern look.

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3. Psychomotor domain/content

This domain or content is primarily used in learning education or society to get information. Other domains and contents of education discussed above also apply. Psychomotor performance behaviors are performed actions that are neuro-muscular in nature. It also involves physical dexterity. This domain or content comprises four levels which include naturalization, articulation, precision, and manipulation.

Naturalization: At this stage, a high level of proficiency is necessary. The behavior is performed with the least energy because it has become routine. The Actions describing learning outcomes are automatically, spontaneously, with ease, effortlessly, naturally, routinely, professionally, etc.

Articulation: This domain/content level requires the display of related acts by establishing the appropriate attitude and performing the acts accurately with speed and timing. The actions describing learning outcomes are confidence, smoothness, coordination, stability, timing, proportion, integration, etc.

Precision: This domain requires the performance of some actions independent of either written instructions or visual models. Students are expected to act with control to reduce errors to a minimum. The actions describing learning outcomes are accurately, proficiently, errolessly, independently, with control, with balance, etc.

Manipulation: Students perform actions or instructions with written or verbal directions without a visual model or direct supervision. The actions describing learning outcomes are align, place, repent, follow, hold, grasp, etc.


Teachers should encourage students to debate on how education/teaching and learning encompasses other subjects in school, education contents and tools should be extensively explained by your teacher. Teachers should endeavor to explain the meaning of difficult words.

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