Jan 162017

Deep Learning

Deep Learning – What Exactly Is Depth of Knowledge?

Deep Learning – By: Erik M. Francis , Author of the book Now THAT’S a Good Question! How to Promote Cognitive Rigor Through Classroom Questioning

Posted 12/11/2016 7:42AM | Last Commented 12/11/2016 7:42AM

deep learning

Tom’s editorial; The Objective: Sustained, Individual, Deep Learning, For ALL Students; The Problem: One Size Fits All Teaching

Deep Learning – Depth of knowledge.  It’s a concept we in education have heard a lot about since our states transitioned to college and career ready standards.  It’s also one of the most misinterpreted and misrepresented concepts in education that is not only confusing but also frustrating us educators.  Most of it is due to the DOK Wheel.

Educators can use to plan and provide teaching and learning – for higher order thinking.  It categorizes the levels of thinking students are expected to demonstrate, which is what cognitive taxonomies such as Anderson and Krathwohl’s revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy, Cognitive and Metacognitive Systems of Marzano’s New Taxonomy, and Biggs and Collis’s SOLO Taxonomy.  In fact, out of all the taxonomies that categorize higher order thinking, the DOK Wheel is most aligned to the SOLO Taxonomy and its four quadrants.  This should be called the HOT Wheel or even the SOLO Wheel and could be used to plan and provide instruction that marks and measures higher order thinking.

However, it does not designate the depth of knowledge students are expected to communicate – or, at least, how Webb’s Depth of Knowledge Model designates these levels.

(You can click here to read further about why the DOK Wheel does not accurately depict Webb’s Depth of Knowledge.)

The concept of depth of knowledge that is addressed in the college and career ready standards was developed by Norman Webb (1997; 2002).  Webb designed his model as a means of increasing the cognitive complexity and demand of standardized assessments.  Traditionally, standardized assessments measured students to think deeply about the academic content, concepts, ideas, and procedures they were learning.  However, these assessments were limited in measuring students ability to transfer and use what they were learning in different contexts.  They were also limited in  measuring the depth of understanding students must develop and demonstrate.  Students were challenged to demonstrate – or show – the ability to think deeply about how to answer questions, address problems, accomplish tasks, and analyze texts and topics.  However, they were not being challenged to communicate – or tell – how and why they could transfer and use what they were learning in different contexts.

Webb first introduced the concept of depth of knowledge in his paper “Research Monograph No. 8: Criteria for Alignment of Expectations and Assessments in Mathematics and Science Education” (1997).   The purpose of this monograph was “to define criteria for judging the alignment between expectations and assessments” (Webb, 1997).  He explains how depth of knowledge consistency serves as attribute under the criteria of content focus, explaining how DOK can vary on a number of dimensions such as the following

  • the level of cognitive complexity of information students should be expected to know
  • how well they should be able to transfer this knowledge to different contexts
  • how well they should be able to form generalizations
  • how much prerequisite knowledge they must have in order to grasp ideas

Deep Learning – Read the Entire Article, Here

Supporting Information:

What it Takes To Provide Individual, Sustained, Performance Improvement

Traditional Teaching and Why it Most Times Won’t Result in Individual Advanced Performance Improvement Outcomes:

One Size Fits ALL

Sage on the Stage

Teaching to The Middle

Strategically, Habitually and Perpetually, Missing the Real Problem

“Disrupting Traditional PD.” Practice What You Preach!

Percent of Ed Tech Leaders Surveyed Whose Districts Have Invested in Personalized Learning: 97%

The Paradox of Classroom Technology: Despite Proliferation and Access, Students Not Using Technology for Learning

Incremental vs Revolutionary Transformation: How School Innovation Works, the case of New Tech Schools

Teachers Working Harder, Not Smarter

The Teacher Curse No One Wants to Talk About

What is Educationally Innovative

Best Practices Education

Student Performance Improvement

Culture Change: How 200+ K-12 Schools Have Scaled Systems and Processes 

How to Scale Personalized Learning

Pedagogy Ed Tech

Educationally Innovative Software

Supporting Research


Tom McDonald, tsm@centurytel.net; 608-788-5144; Skype: tsmw5752 deep learning