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Understanding Depth 0f knowledge. Steve Williams, Fine Arts Consultant MO Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Depth of Knowledge.

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Understanding depth 0f knowledge

UnderstandingDepth 0f knowledge

Steve Williams, Fine Arts Consultant

MO Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Depth of knowledge

Depth of Knowledge

Measures the degree to which the knowledge elicited from students on assessments is as complex as what students are expected to know and do as stated in the state standards

Why use dok

Why Use DOK?

NCLB requires that each state develop rigorous standards (Show-Me Standards) and align their state assessment (MAP) to those standards. States must adopt a system to guarantee that alignment.

What does dok accomplish

What Does DOK Accomplish?

Mechanism to ensure that the intent of the standard and the level of student demonstration required by that standard matches the assessment items

Provides cognitive processing ceiling (highest level students can be assessed) for item development

Where did dok come from

Where Did DOK Come From?

Developed by Dr. Norman Webb, senior research scientist at the National Institute for Science Education. Several other states (at least 20) use DOK to evaluate the rigor of their state assessments.

How does it work

How Does it Work?

Depth of Knowledge is broken into 4 levels. Level One is the most basic level, essentially the “definition” stage. As the levels increase, students must demonstrate increasingly complex mental strategies. Higher levels of DOK require that students solve problems in new and creative ways, and allow for multiple solutions to solve those problems.

Levels of dok

Levels of DOK


    • Recall of a fact, information, or procedure


    • Use information or conceptual knowledge


    • Reasoning, developing a plan


    • Requires an investigation, collection of data and analysis of results

Dok compared to bloom s

DOK Compared to Bloom’s

DOK is similar to Bloom’s Taxonomy. The next slide is a rough comparison of the levels of DOK and Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Understanding depth 0f knowledge


“Putting together elements & parts to form a whole, then making value judgments about the method.”




“The recall of specifics and universals, involving little more than bringing to mind the appropriate material”


Recall of a fact, information, or procedure (e.g., What are 3 critical skill cues for the overhand throw?)


“Ability to process knowledge on a low level such that the knowledge can be reproduced or communicated without a verbatim repetition.”


“The use of abstractions in concrete situations.”


Use of information, conceptual knowledge, procedures, two or more steps, etc.


Requires reasoning, developing a plan or sequence of steps; has some complexity; more than one possible answer


“The breakdown of a situation into its component parts.”


Requires an investigation; time to think and process multiple conditions of the problem or task.

Wyoming School Health and Physical Education Network (2001).  Standards, Assessment, and Beyond.  Retrieved May 25, 2006, from http://www.uwyo.edu/wyhpenet

Dok 1


Emphasis is on facts and simple recall of previously taught information. This also means following simple steps, recipes, or directions. Can be difficult without requiring reasoning. At DOK 1, students find “the right answer,” and there is no debating the “correctness,” it is either right or wrong.

Dok 2


Requires comparison of two or more concepts, finding similarities and differences, applying factual learning at the basic skill level. Main ideas – requires deeper knowledge than just the definition. Students must explain “how” or “why” and often estimate or interpret to respond.

Dok 3


Students must reason or plan to find an acceptable solution to a problem. More than one correct response or approach is possible. Requires complex or abstract thinking, and application of knowledge or skill in a new and unique situation.

Dok 4


At this level, students typically identify a problem, plan a course of action, enact that plan, and make decisions based on collected data. Usually involves more time than one class period. Multiple solutions are possible. Students often connect multiple content areas to come up with unique and creative solutions.

Key points regarding dok

Key Points Regarding DOK

  • DOK is about complexity, not difficulty

  • DOK 1 + DOK 1 + DOK 1 = 1

  • In levels 1 and 2, the answer is either completely right or completely wrong

  • In levels 3 and 4, students make decisions and there are many right answers

  • We don’t do enough level 3 and 4

  • Either 1 - 2, or 3 - 4

Thank you

Thank You!

Please contact me if you have any questions

  • Steve Williams

  • Fine Arts Consultant

  • MO Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

  • Ph. (573) 751-2857

  • Steve.williams@dese.mo.gov

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