A Good Verb is Hard to Ignore

By Rod Lucero

Formulating a problem for students to solve can be made a lot simpler with a basic understanding of the categorical structure outlined in Blooms Taxonomy and then posing it in language appropriate to the course level at which you are teaching and the learning outcomes for which you are reaching.

With that in mind, consider the verb—a good friend when you're posing a problem. A call to action, verbs are directive and specific. Here are some good starter ideas.

Note how the following six categories increase from lower to higher-order complexity, from basic commands requiring regurgitation of core knowledge to probing questions demanding increasingly higher-order critical thinking skills.


Recognition and Recall… Building an informational base for subsequent questions...

Arrange, define, duplicate, label, list, memorize, name, order, recognize, relate, recall, repeat, reproduce, state, choose, circle, count, describe, find, how, identify, know, locate, match, outline, pick, point to, quote, read, recite recognize, record repeat retrieve, say, select, show, spell, state, study, tell, underline, view, what, when, where, which, who, why, write….


Processing information so that the meaning is clear...

Add, approximate, articulate, associate, calculate, categorize, characterize, clarify, compare, communicate, comprehend, conclude, contrast, construct, define, demonstrate, describe, discuss, distinguish, elaborate, estimate, example, explain, express, extend, extrapolate, factor, generalize, give, identify, illustrate, infer, instantiate, interact, interpolate, interpret, map, match, model, observe, paraphrase, predict, rephrase, report, represent, restate, retell, rewrite, review, subsume, subtract, summarize, trace, translate, understand….


Taking learned information and applying it to a new situation

Acquire, action, act out, adapt, alter, answer, apply, calculate, carry out, conduct, change, choose, compute, construct, delineate, determine, develop, do, dramatize, draw, employ, exhibit, illustrate, make, manipulate, modify, operate, organize, prepare, participate, perform, place, practice, predict, present, produce, put into, select, show, sketch, solve, respond….


Taking apart complex phenomena to show how it works...

Analyze, ask, catalog, categorize, chart, classify, compare, contrast, correlate, decode, deduce, diagram, differentiate, dissect, distinguish, divide, document, edit, examine, explain, focus, group, identify, infer, inquire, inspect, inventory, monitor, observe, order, outline, parse, point out, proofread, reason, review, segment, select, sequence, sort, survey, transform….


The focus is on the creativity in creating a tangible product or solution...

Adopt, arrange, assemble, blend, build, collect, combine, compile, compose, concoct, connect, construct, coordinate, create, cultivate, design, detect, develop, devise, dictate, elaborate, establish, explain, form, format, formulate, frame, gather, generate, glean, graph, hypothesis, imagine, incorporate, integrate, interact, invent, judge, make, model, monitor, organize, participate, plan, portray, produce, publish, rearrange, refine, reorganize, revise, rewrite, summarize, synthesize, test, write….


Judging the merit of some object or outcome...

Agree, appraise, appreciate, assess, choose, compare, conclude, consider, construct, contrast, criticize, critique, debate, decide, defend, design, determine, discriminate, dispute, editorialize, estimate, evaluate, explain, grade, hypothesize, influence, interpret, judge, justify, measure, perceive, prioritize, prove, rate, rate, recommend, relate, select, summarize, support, test, value, verify….


Boynton, M., & Boynton, C. (2005). The educators guide to preventing and solving discipline problems. Alexandria, VA:  Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Copyright and Permissions:

Thanks to Dr. Rod Lucero, Associate Professor in the School of Education and the Associate Director for the School of Teacher Education and Principal Preparation (STEPP) at Colorado State University, for this Teaching Tip. Rod is the Master Teacher Initiative (MTI) Coordinator for the College of Applied Human Sciences.


Peter Connor - TILT Web Content Writer and Editor