• DOK Depth of Knowledge, or DOK, is a way to think about content complexity and thinking critically in the classroom. Complexity is different from difficulty. For example, if students have not seen the word or content before, it might be difficult for them, but it is not complex.

    Calculating Cognitive Depth

    Our goal is to create rich environments where all students learn at a high level. We use Norman Webb's Depth of Knowledge Levels, to help us meet that challenge. Depth of Knowledge (DoK) categorizes tasks according to the complexity of thinking required to successfully complete the task.

    Level 1: Recall and Reproduction

    Tasks at this level require recall of facts or rote application of simple procedures. The task does not require any cognitive effort beyond remembering the right response or formula. Copying, computing, defining, and recognizing are typical Level 1 tasks.

    Level 2: Skills and Concepts

    At this level, a student must make some decisions about his or her approach. Tasks with more than one mental step such as comparing, organizing, summarizing, predicting, and estimating are usually Level 2.

    Level 3: Strategic Thinking

    At this level of complexity, students must use planning and evidence, and thinking is more abstract. A task with multiple valid responses where students must justify their choices would be Level 3. Examples include solving non-routine problems, designing an experiment, or analyzing characteristics of a genre.

    Level 4: Extended Thinking

    Level 4 tasks require the most complex cognitive effort. Students synthesize information from multiple sources, often over an extended period of time, or transfer knowledge from one domain to solve problems in another. Designing a survey and interpreting the results, analyzing multiple texts to extract themes, or writing an original myth in an ancient style would all be examples of Level 4.

    Apply as Needed

    What is a reasonable distribution? How often should my student be doing tasks at each level? What's the right sequence?"

    All DOK levels are important and a necessary step in obtaining new knowledge, however, DOK levels are not sequential. Students need not fully master content with Level 1 tasks before doing Level 2 tasks. In fact, giving students an intriguing Level 3 task can provide context and motivation for engaging in the more routine learning at Levels 1 and 2.

    DOK levels are also not developmental. All students, including the youngest preschoolers, are capable of strategic and extended thinking tasks. What they look like will differ, and what is Level 3 to a kindergarten student may be a Level 1 task for a middle schooler. All students, however, should have opportunities to do complex reasoning.

    The important thing is that ALL SVMS students are thinking critically on a daily basis. Webb's Depth of Knowledge gives us a framework and common language to make that happen in our classrooms.

    DoK “wheel” (PDF, 34KB)

    Source: "Using Webb's Depth of Knowledge to Increase Rigor" by Gerald Angust, EDUTOPIA, 9/4/2014