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Introduction to depth of knowledge

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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

This video provides an overview of Webb's Depth of Knowledge and walks viewers through the progression of a task across the four DOK levels. 

Webb's Depth of Knowledge (DOK) provides a vocabulary and a frame of reference when thinking about our students and how they engage with the content.  This document provides a definition of each of the levels, words and phrases often used for tasks at each level, as well as examples of activities at each of the levels. 

This chart applies Webb’s depth-of-knowledge levels to Bloom’s cognitive process dimensions, providing curricular examples for reading.

This chart applies Webb’s depth-of-knowledge levels to Bloom’s cognitive process dimensions, providing curricular examples for math and science. 

This document supports teachers in interpreting and assigning Depth of Knowledge levels to both objectives within standards and assessment items.  Content areas covered include English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.