Tip #720:  Why Care About DOK™?

“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong.”  H.L. Mencken

DOK™ stands for the Depth of Knowledge framework designed by Dr. Norman Webb. According to Darin Rasmussen, the depth of knowledge “corresponds to the content complexity of a particular educational material.” Dr. Webb has summary definitions for four different subject areas: English Language Arts, Mathematics, Social Studies and Science. All of the subject areas have four DOK™ levels.

Mr. Rasmussen explains and summarizes the four DOK™ levels by using the mathematics definitions: see <https://blog.edmentum.com/darinrasmussen>

Level 1:  Recall and Reproduction

This level involves basic tasks that require recall of facts or rote reproduction of simple procedures. The tasks do not require any cognitive effort beyond remembering the right response.

Level 2:  Skills and Concepts

This level requires learners to make some decisions about problem solving and procedures. Tasks may involve applying a skill in a new context or explaining thinking in terms of concepts.

Level 3:  Strategic Thinking

This level is more complex and abstract. Learners must use reasoning, planning and evidence to explain their thought processes. Tasks may have more than one valid response and learners must justify their choices.

Level 4:  Extended Thinking

Tasks at this level are at least as complex as Level 3 tasks but require an extended time frame- several weeks or possibly longer- to complete.

I tried to correlate Bloom’s Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain (Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Evaluation and Creation) to Webb’s framework and failed. Bloom’s first level, Knowledge, focuses on recall, as does Webb’s first level, recall and reproduction. However, any correlation ends there because Bloom’s Taxonomy relates to the level of learning desired for specific cognitive learning content. Webb’s framework appears to relate to the level of thinking required based on the complexity inherent in the learning content.

Let me see if I can work out the difference for myself.

Assume we have a learning objective at Bloom’s third level, Analysis, that states that “The learners will analyze situations to determine the appropriate response.”

For the purposes of this learning objective, it doesn’t matter how complex the situation might be. However, the complexity of the situation makes a huge difference to Webb. It might be a level 2, level 3 or even a level 4 on Webb’s DOK™ framework.

And now I just found an article that claims, by comparing the active verbs used by both Bloom and Webb, that there is a correlation.

Webb’s Level 1, Recall = Bloom’s Level 1, Knowledge

Webb’s Level 2, Skills and Concepts = Bloom’s Levels 2, Comprehension and 3, Application

Webb’s Level 3, Strategic Thinking = Bloom’s Levels 4, Analysis and 5, Evaluation

Webb’s Level 4, Extended Thinking = Bloom’s Levels 4, Analysis, 5, Evaluation and 6, Creation

I actually think my analysis of the difference between learning objectives and DOK™ levels still holds.

I also think my brain hurts. I need to do some extended thinking about this…

Do you use Webb’s DOK™ levels in your training design? I’d love to hear more about it.

May your learning be sweet.




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