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Anat Sci Educ. 2018 Jan 18. doi: 10.1002/ase.1768. [Epub ahead of print]

Role of comprehension on performance at higher levels of Bloom's taxonomy: Findings from assessments of healthcare professional students.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Lewis Katz School of Medicine, Temple University Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
STEM Division, Department of Biology, Delaware County Community College, Media, Pennsylvania.
Widener University School of Nursing, Chester, Pennsylvania.
Department of Education and Society, Miami University Regionals, Middletown, Ohio.
Department of Educational Psychology, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.


The first four levels of Bloom's taxonomy were used to create quiz questions designed to assess student learning of the gross anatomy, histology, and physiology of the gastrointestinal (GI) system. Information on GI histology and physiology was presented to separate samples of medical, dental, and podiatry students in computer based tutorials where the information from the two disciplines was presented either separately or in an integrated fashion. All students were taught GI gross anatomy prior to this study by course faculty as part of the required curriculum of their respective program. Student responses to the quiz questions were analyzed to assess both the validity of Bloom's cumulative hierarchy and the effectiveness of an integrated curriculum. No statistically significant differences were found between quiz scores from students who received the integrated tutorial and from those who received the separate tutorials. Multiple regression analyses provided partial support for a cumulative hierarchy where scores on the lower levels of Bloom's taxonomy predicted scores on higher levels. Notably, in the majority of regression analyses, the comprehension score was the key foundational predictor for application and analysis scores. This study supports the suggestion that educators increase the number of comprehension level questions, even at the expense of knowledge level questions, in course assessments both to evaluate lower order cognitive skills and also as a predictor of success on questions requiring application and analysis levels of the higher order cognitive skills of Bloom's taxonomy. Anat Sci Educ.


Bloom's taxonomy; cognitive skills; critical thinking; dental education; gross anatomy education; histology education; physiology education; podiatric medicine education; undergraduate medical education

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