Excellent Resource: Question Starters Using Bloom’s Taxonomy

Think back to your days in an introductory-level education or psychology course. If I were to guess, you were most likely exposed to Bloom’s Taxonomy when you discussed higher-level thinking. The taxonomy is a visual representation of the different levels of thinking learners engage with while processing information. Lower-level questioning can be categorized at the bottom of the model: simple fact recall and comprehension questions. Higher-order questions fall in the upper levels of the model: applying information or analyzing content.

During my undergraduate coursework and early in my teaching career, I have found myself referring back to this model to help guide my instruction. Teaching in its purest form is effective questioning. As an educator, I am responsible for guiding my students on a path towards understanding. One of the most effective, and student-friendly, ways of doing this is through questioning. To be an impactful teacher is to be a skillful questioner.

But this is where it can get tricky: how can we, as educators, take what we know about Bloom’s taxonomy and higher-order questioning and apply it in a day-to-day classroom setting?  Thankfully, I stumbled upon this Curriculet article. The article addressed this exact issue by generated question stems for each of the levels in Bloom’s taxonomy. The stems are laid out below. I hope that these stems will find their way into your classroom, I know they will end up in mine.


Level 1: Remember – Recalling Information

Key words: Recognize, List, Describe, Retrieve, Name, Find, Match, Recall, Select, Label, Define, Tell

Question Starters:

  • What is…?
  • Who was it that…?
  • Can you name…?
  • Describe what happened after…?
  • What happened after…?


Level 2: Understand – Demonstrate an understanding of facts, concepts and ideas

Key words: Compare, Contrast, Demonstrate, Describe, Interpret, Explain, Extend, Illustrate, Infer, Outline, Relate, Rephrase, Translate, Summarize, Show, Classify

Question Starters:

  • Can you explain why…?
  • Can you write in your own words?
  • Write a brief outline of…?
  • Can you clarify…?
  • Who do you think…?
  • What was the main idea?


Level 3: Apply – Solve problems by applying knowledge, facts, techniques and rules in a unique way

Key words: Apply, Build, Choose, Construct, Demonstrate, Develop, Draw, Experiment with, Illustrate, Interview, Make use of, Model, Organize, Plan, Select, Solve, Utilize

Question Starters:

  • Do you know of another instance where…?
  • Demonstrate how certain characters are similar or different?
  • Illustrate how the belief systems and values of the characters are presented in the story.
  • What questions would you ask of…?
  • Can you illustrate…?
  • What choice does … (character) face?


Level 4: Analyze – Breaking information into parts to explore connections and relationships

Key words: Analyze, Categorize, Classify, Compare, Contrast, Discover, Divide, Examine, Group, Inspect, Sequence, Simplify, Make Distinctions, Relationships, Function, Assume, Conclusions

Question Starters:

  • Which events could not have happened?
  • If … happened, what might the ending have been?
  • How is… similar to…?
  • Can you distinguish between…?
  • What was the turning point?
  • What was the problem with…?
  • Why did… changes occur?


Level 5: Evaluate – Justifying or defending a position or course of action

Key words: Award, Choose, Defend, Determine, Evaluate, Judge, Justify, Measure, Compare, Mark, Rate, Recommend, Select, Agree, Appraise, Prioritize, Support, Prove, Disprove. Assess, Influence, Value

Question Starters:

  • Judge the value of…
  • Can you defend the character’s position about…?
  • Do you think… is a good or bad thing?
  • Do you believe…?
  • What are the consequences…?
  • Why did the character choose…?
  • How can you determine the character’s motivation when…?


Level 6: Create – Generating new ideas, products or ways of viewing things

Key words: Design, Construct, Produce, Invent, Combine, Compile, Develop, Formulate, Imagine, Modify, Change, Improve, Elaborate, Plan, Propose, Solve

Question Starters:

  • What would happen if…?
  • Can you see a possible solution to…?
  • Do you agree with the actions?…with the outcomes?
  • What is your opinion of…?
  • What do you imagine would have been the outcome if… had made a different choice?
  • Invent a new ending.
  • What would you cite to defend the actions of…?


A unique graphical representation of Bloom's Taxonomy. I love this model because it visually emphasizes higher-level thinking (i.e. Creating, Evaluating, Analyzing).
A unique graphical representation of Bloom’s Taxonomy. I love this model because it visually emphasizes higher-level thinking (i.e. Creating, Evaluating, Analyzing).

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