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Introduction to depth of knowledge

Webb's Depth of Knowledge (DOK) provides a vocabulary and a frame of reference when thinking about students and how they engage with the content. DOK offers a common language to understand "rigor," or cognitive demand, in assessments, as well as curricular units, lessons, and tasks. Webb developed four DOK levels that grow in cognitive complexity and provide educators a lens on creating more cognitively engaging and challenging tasks.

In this 50-minute activity, participants will:

  • Gain a better understanding of what constitutes rigorous questions by exploring Norman Webb's Depth of Knowledge (DOK) levels and Karin Hess' Cognitive Rigor Matrix
  • Practice using the Cognitive Rigor Matrix to evaluate and adjust the rigor of particular questions

Included Resources

The Depth of Knowledge Wheel is not just something that you hand to teachers and say – “here go and make sure that you put some Depth of Knowledge in it.”  Rather it is a way of developing a lesson or activity that scaffolds the cognitive demand, and in turn the learning, to engage students in a higher cognitive level of thinking and application.

Here will find the Webb's Depth of Knowledge (DOK) wheel.  Depth of Knowledge is not about verb choice. The level of thinking required is based on the design of the prompt/question.