Bloom, Benjamin Samuel

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BLOOM, BENJAMIN SAMUEL (1913–1999), U.S. educator. Bloom studied at Pennsylvania State University and at the University of Chicago, where he taught from 1940 (professor of education, 1953) and worked as a university examiner. He participated in several major educational assessment researchefforts, both in America and abroad. His evaluation of school performance among youth of different nationalities was published in International Study of Achievement in Mathematics; A Comparison of Twelve Countries (with T. Husen and others, 1966). His other work was in basic studies of measurement and evaluation procedures in education, analyses of stability and change patterns in human behavior, and the classification of educational objectives. At the invitation of the United States Office of Education, Bloom helped set guidelines for federally supported research efforts throughout the United States. He was a member of the Advisory Committee on National Educational Laboratories. In 1965 he was appointed president of the American Educational Research Association and in 1966 was elected a member of the National Academy of Education. His major publications include Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook i and ii (1957–64) and Stability and Change in Human Characteristics (1964).

Bloom believed that when looking at test scores, a teacher must understand that many factors affect the results: time of learning, resources provided, quality of teaching, and environment. He stressed that environment influences learning and is therefore a significant factor in a student's success. The teacher's role, then, is to give students guidance and support – two ways to help pupils reach their potential. A strong supporter of the theory of mastery learning, Bloom advocated that objectives be written in manageable steps and that they be reached through proper instruction. He believed that learning is a process, so teachers should design lessons and exercises to enable students to meet each objective as well as adjust their methods to achieve that aim. Because students learn at different rates and in different ways, he felt that time was not a relevant factor in the learning process. But feedback and correction, Bloom asserted, should be immediate and students should help one another.

Bloom's taxonomy theory incorporates cognitive, psychomotor, and affective spheres of knowledge into the learning process. During the 1970s and 1980s, his theories were adopted by many public school districts, particularly in Chicago and Boston. But they were subsequently criticized as being ineffective, and many schools no longer implement them.

Other books by Bloom include Handbook on Formative and Summative Evaluation of Student Learning (1971), Human Characteristics and School Learning (1976), All Our Children Learning: A Primer for Parents, Teachers, and Other Educators (1980), and Developing Talent in Young People (1985).

[Abraham J. Tannenbaum /

Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]