Identifying Webb’s Depth of Knowledge Levels

This video presents an introduction to Webb’s
Depth of Knowledge, or DOK. The DOK levels indicate the content complexity
of a task. This is not the same as difficulty. Difficulty generally refers to the percentage
of students that will complete a task correctly. An easy task, for example, is one which we
expect at least 75% of students to perform correctly. A hard task, on the other hand,
is one we expect fewer than 25% of students to perform correctly. Determining the DOK levels for a standard
is a vital part of unpacking the standards because these levels reflect the level at
which you will require students to perform. In other words, these levels directly inform
the evidence of student mastery. Before we delve into the DOK levels for specific
standards, it might be useful to summarize the four levels in Webb’s Depth of Knowledge. 1. Recall and reproduction
2. Skills and concepts 3. Short-term strategic thinking
4. Extended strategic thinking Identifying the DOK levels can be a challenging
task, so let’s examine some standards together. We’ll begin with a K-2 science standard. Obtain and combine information to describe
climates in different regions of the world. A good first step is to identify the verbs
in the standards. Here, we have obtain, combine, and describe. It’s tempting to stop here,
but the verbs alone are not sufficient to determine the DOK level. We must also consider
the complexity of the task or information and the prior knowledge of students. This standard, for instance, is for grades
K-2. It is unlikely that a kindergartener can already define climate and regions. A
second grader, on the other hand, will already have some familiarity with the words climate
and region. The task set forth in the standard is more
complex for a kindergartener than a second grader, so the DOK levels will be different. For kindergarten, obtaining and combining
information to describe climates in different regions of the world would likely be DOK 4.
Think of all the intermediate steps involved in this performance expectation. A student must learn what climate and regions
are, know how to find information on climate, determine how to choose what information to
use, and finally, decide how to put all of the information together to describe climate
in different regions. For second grade, by contrast, some of those
intermediate steps can be skipped. Maybe the students already know what climate and regions
are and how to find information for these students. The task is less complex because
they have greater prior knowledge. For second grade, this might be a DOK level 3, or even
level 2 task. Now let’s look at an 8th grade math standard. Solve linear equations in one variable. At first glance, this seems like a DOK 1 task.
Students solve linear equations in one variable by following a set procedure. For example,
3 – x=8 can be solved in one step. It involves one basic idea and simple operations
and is thus a DOK 1 task. What about a linear equation like this one? In this example, solving for x is not so simple. A student could start by distributing the
-4, or by subtracting 11 from 3 on the left side of the equation. For an 8th grade student,
solving this equation would be a DOK 2 task because it involves multiple steps, draws
on concepts from different topics, and can be approached in several ways. Imagine a school in which some classes only
expect students to solve DOK level 1 equations, like the first example, and other classes
expect students to solve level 2 equations, like the second example. Students in these
different classes would not be receiving the same education because the expectations of
student-learning are not the same. This is why collaboration and dialogue within
a PLC is at the heart of the CAR process. Within a school, teachers should have a common
understanding of what they expect students to know and do. An important component of
building this common understanding is determining the DOK levels together in the PLC.

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