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Webb's Depth of Knowledge for Improving Rigorous Instruction





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Calculating Cognitive Depth

Policy makers tout the importance of the educational term-RIGOR. For classroom teachers, the more important question is, "How do we create rich environments where all students learn at a high level?" Norman Webb's Depth of Knowledge Levels, can help teachers meet that challenge. Depth of Knowledge (DoK) categorizes tasks according to the complexity of thinking required to successfully complete them. 

Webb designed his model as a means of increasing the cognitive complexity and demand of standardized assessments. Traditionally, standardized assessments measured students to think deeply about the academic content, concepts, ideas, and procedures they were learning. However, these assessments were limited in measuring students ability to transfer and use what they were learning in different contexts. They were also limited in measuring the depth of understanding students must develop and demonstrate. Students were challenged to demonstrate-- or show-- the ability to think deeply about how to answer questions, address problems, accomplish tasks, and analyze texts and topics. However, they were not being challenged to communicate-- or tell-- how and why they could transfer and use what they were learning in different contexts. 

Essentially, depth of knowledge designates how deeply students must know, understand, and be aware of what they are learning in order to attain and explain answers, outcomes, results, and solutions. It also designates how extensively students are expected to transfer and use what they have learned in different academic and real world contexts. This is linking the 21st Century Learning principles for Public Education to remain globally competitive in the working upscale environment.