The efficacy of asking questions has been proven by multiple researchers engaged in investigating the mechanisms of the human psyche. Proper questions help people explore much about themselves and the surrounding world. Many interrogative techniques have been offered to trace one’s development. Moreover, counselor services are growing in popularity since people want to improve their lives and be more attentive to their needs (Vogt et al., 2003). Benjamin Bloom was one of the scientists who contributed significantly to the art of asking powerful questions. Hence, this paper aims to investigate how Bloom’s Taxonomy relates to the counseling questions.
It is essential to find out more about Bloom’s Taxonomy as a foundation for building up the powerful questions. It is a system of educational goals that were developed by scientists at the University of Chicago, led by psychologist Benjamin Bloom. Bloom’s ideas were first published in 1956 in the book “Taxonomy of Educational Goals” (Bloom, 1972). It represents a set of three hierarchical models that are used to classify various learning goals according to their complexity and specificity. This classification considers that learning is carried out at three levels: cognitive, affective, and psychomotor.
Among all the spheres, more attention was paid to the cognitive field. It was in it that Bloom identified six levels of educational goals arranged in a hierarchical order. Each level is aimed at the formation of specific thinking skills. Currently, the groups of cognitive measurement are targeted at remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating (Bloom, 1972). This stage is of vital importance since the majority of activities occur by performing the mentioned processes.
Thinking skills are arranged in a hierarchy from simple to more complex. Low-order thinking includes knowledge and understanding (they are located at the bottom of the pyramid) since these processes are most widely represented in the learning process: students receive knowledge and reproduce it. For instance, at the first level, titled remembering, people may define and describe objects, while at the level of analysis, they may process comparing and contrasting operations.
Therefore, at each level, specific algorithms of mental activity operations are mastered: processes of comparison, analysis, synthesis, concretization and abstraction, formation of concepts, construction of judgments and conclusions, classification, generalization, and systematization. In addition, to perceive the processes better, it is vital to formulate good questions (Vogt et al., 2003). It presumes that there should be particular hints in every query to make a person’s cognitive development visible.
Another crucial sphere is effective, which is associated with feelings and emotions. Its main goal is the formation of an emotional attitude to the phenomena of the surrounding world. This includes how a person reacts to various situations, their values, interests, and inclinations. Typically, counselors rely upon this sphere to indicate what a person feels to help them cope with a particular situation. What is more, psychomotor goals are associated with the development of practical skills and the ability to use various tools. Both spheres significantly contribute to the development of a human psyche; however, the cognitive one remains predominant.
Critical thinking plays an essential role in counseling since it provides a foundation for a more conscious way of life. Considering that a psychologist or counselor needs to ask questions, it is essential to learn to formulate them. Some interrogations can help to start the necessary cognitive processes (Vogt et al., 2003). These questions stimulate deeper thought processes that prevent simple, one-dimensional answers. The technique of developing critical thinking “Bloom’s Cube” is unique in that it allows one to shape queries of a very different nature.
For instance, at the first stage of cognitive development known as remembering, a counselor may ask simple questions assuming the knowledge of certain facts and operating on a specific topic. These questions may help one restore the sequence of events that brought a patient to the current situation. The understanding stage demands specifying questions that aim to provide feedback on what has been said. Clarifying questions are also asked to obtain information that is not included in the message but is implied. Such questions usually begin with the words: “So you say that…?”, “If I understand correctly, then…?”, and “Do you think that…?” (Bloom, 1972). The questions must be asked without a negative implication. It is an increasingly valuable tactic to ensure that both a counselor and a client understand the case.
The analysis step requires interpretative (explanatory) questions. Usually, they begin with the word “Why?” and they can be aimed at establishing cause-and-effect relationships. Such queries consist of the element of independence, presuming that a client is capable of explaining their situation. These questions are vital in counseling practice because they establish the understanding of some phenomena. During the stage of synthesis, a counselor should aim to receive creative feedback from a patient. It implies that the questions should be structured in the following way “What will happen if…?” (Bloom, 1972). Such an approach allows a client to realize the potential outcomes or depict the possible scenario. Considering this, they may come up with a proper solution to their problem (Bond & Stafford, 2020). Finally, the evaluating questions require the maximum level of honesty to answer, and not many patients are ready to do it due to different factors. They presume expressing attitudes toward particular objects and have a subjective nature.
The art of asking powerful questions is an indispensable part of a counselor’s profession. Most patients expect that they will tell their psychologists about the situation and receive advice that should be followed. However, it works the opposite way – the counselor asks questions while the client responds to them. The main idea is that people’s answers constitute the solution to the problem (Bond & Stafford, 2020). Individuals’ cognitive abilities are endless, which allows them to solve different issues.
Nevertheless, the counselor’s role bears primary importance since the success of therapy depends on the adequately posed questions. If the professional only listens to their client, it will not be efficient enough (Bond & Stafford, 2020). By planning the structure of questions based on Bloom’s Cube, a psychologist will manage to develop critical thinking in their patients. Therefore, Bloom’s Taxonomy can help construct the queries which are presupposed to bring positive changes to a person’s psyche.
In conclusion, the application of Bloom’s Taxonomy is found not only in education but also in other areas. The ability to ask questions helps a person learn to answer the questions of others thoughtfully and without haste and respond to reason, and develop his point of view. Hence, Bloom’s approach can be used in counseling to receive positive mental health shifts and helps people live better lives.
Bloom, B. S. (1972). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals. D. McKay Company.
Bond, T., & Stafford, M. R. (2020). Counselling skills in action. SAGE Publications.
Vogt, E., Brown, J., & Isaac, D. (2003). The art of asking powerful questions. Pegasus Communications, Inc.