Exploring Webb’s Depth of Knowledge

In order to more accurately analyze the types of questions offered in standardized assessments, Norman L. Webb developed a system called Depth of Knowledge. Rather than categorize questions by difficulty, this system categorizes them by complexity. In other words, questions are categorized by the type of thinking that is required to adequately answer them. This method allows assessments to be aligned more accurately with the standards they represent. The four categories are as follows:

The verbs shown in Webb’s image above are examples of words frequently found within each type of question. However, there are many exceptions and more information on how to identify and categorize assessment questions into the correct level of complexity is explored in this blog post, along with examples of each type of question.

Recall and Reproduction

The Wowzers curriculum embraces Webb’s Depth of Knowledge, and includes assessment questions from all four levels. The first category is “recall and reproduction.” Questions from this level require students to recall a fact, term, or procedure. When answering these types of questions, students are not required to do anything beyond remember a particular definition, type of computation, or formula. These questions often ask them to “define” or “compute” a basic fact or one-step calculation.

In this question, students are asked to recall a series of facts and procedures regarding integers. At this level, students must understand the information (they are not simply reciting information verbatim), but they are not yet using this information in a complex manner.

Skills and Concepts

At this second, more complex level, students are asked to use information or conceptual knowledge. These questions often have two or three steps. To answer the question, students must make a decision about how to approach the problem. It often requires them to organize, summarize, predict, or estimate.

In this question, students are asked to estimate the value of a series of square roots. This is a multi-step process that requires the student to analyze each number and go through a series of steps to correctly categorize it.

Strategic Thinking

In the next step of complexity, students must develop a plan to solve non-routine problems using multiple steps. There is sometimes more than one correct answer, and thinking is more abstract. Questions often ask students to justify their choices or support their ideas with details and examples.

In this question, students are asked to analyze a graph, consider how someone might find it misleading, and then describe their reasoning. This level of abstract thinking requires a higher depth of knowledge.

Extended Thinking

In this more complex type of question, questions require students to investigate and process multiple conditions or sources. These questions often take a much longer time to answer. Most assessments do not include questions of this complexity, and they are often instead included in projects and longer-term activities. To address these extended thinking questions, Wowzers includes offline activities that teachers can print out at any time.

In this assignment, students are asked to consider multiple conditions and go through a series of steps in order to solve a probability question. Because questions like this require a longer amount of time and text to thoroughly answer, Wowzers includes a similar assignment for each section of work, in addition to the daily and weekly assessments.

The Science of Learning

A lot of research has been done into the science of how we learn, but how does it relate to online, game-based learning?

Brain-based research emphasizes the fact that engagement must be the goal of all educators. When students are not engaged, their minds wander and learning isn’t effective. When engaged, students are excited to learn. Higher levels of engagement are associated with students who want to learn more and apply what they have learned in the real world.

Every brain is unique, which means strategies need to include a variety of activities that build not only declarative knowledge but also underlying cognitive skills. A great way to accomplish this is by including online activities that motivate this new generation of digital natives. Game-based learning improves knowledge along with a variety of cognitive skills, including memory, thinking, processing, sequencing, and attention.

Because people absorb information differently, generally through some combination of auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learning, blended learning programs should include activities that call for movement and a hands-on approach to learning that addresses the physical learning system of the brain.

Most students today have grown up with technology and, in a sense, demand the engaging content that they have grown accustomed to through online gaming. Students expect to receive immediate feedback and move at their own pace, which frees them from the fear of failing and satisfies both the cognitive and the emotional centers of the brain. The core online skills that students develop can then be applied to offline and online activities that focus on problem solving, communication, and creativity. 

Assessing student knowledge is the key to success. Today’s assessments typically include a variety of interactive manipulatives and tools.  Through practice, students can concentrate on answering the content questions without having to figure out how to manipulate the technology, giving us a clearer picture of what they know and don’t know.

These new types of questions can actually stand alone as learning tools for students. Different question types (such as extended response, sorting information, placing numbers on a number line, etc.) give us a much more accurate picture of what a student truly understands versus the old method of filling in a bubble.

Not only is digital, game-based learning fun for students, it’s also supported by research and provides endless opportunities for educators.

Blending Learning Environments Help Engage Different Types of Learners in the Classroom

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Lately, we’ve been giving blended learning classrooms a lot of attention because of the benefits they provide for students. One of these benefits is how digital learning can incorporate different styles of learning, but just what are these different types and how can they be used? Although the number of different styles of learning varies depending on the source, most people can typically agree on the following four:

Visual Learners

This is the most common type of learner, encompassing around 60% of students. Students who are visual learners typically prefer demonstrations or descriptions of how something works. These students tend to be easily distracted when a lesson requires physically moving around the classroom. Digital learning can help these students by enhancing the types of visuals shown. Instead of simple diagrams in textbooks, it can show animations and the flow of how concepts relate. For example, these students would understand the concept of surface area best by seeing three-dimensional animations of different shapes and how they have different numbers of faces and can unfold into a net.

Kinesthetic Learners

These students learn best when moving and acting out new lessons. They need to be highly involved in learning and often have a lot of energy. This type of learning tends to be more common in younger students, but can still be found in some older classrooms as well. Kinesthetic learners have trouble sitting still and don’t retain information well in a traditional lecture. Many programs include hands-on activities for these students. For example, these students would understand the concept of surface area best by physically measuring and counting units on different shapes. When sitting at their desk is necessary, digital learning makes it easier on these students by providing virtual manipulatives and engaging them often through clicking, dragging, and interacting with their computer or tablet.

Auditory Learners

Students who identify as auditory learners usually learn best through dialogue, discussion, and lecture. These are the students who can memorize content through repetition and solve problems by talking them out. However, they can be easily distracted when there is a lot of excess noise in a classroom. In a digital program, these students thrive when all instructions and explanations are read aloud to them, and they can focus better when wearing headphones. They typically do best when this approach is combined with the traditional methods of group discussion and teaching others a concept they have already mastered. These students would understand the concept of surface area best if it was explained aloud to them, step-by-step, and they then discussed it as a group.

Tactile Learners

Tactile learners are similar to kinesthetic learners, but don’t need to get up and act out concepts. Instead, they learn best by taking notes, drawing, or tinkering with objects. These are often the students who doodle during lectures, but still seem to retain the information instead of being distracted by the process. When learning through technology, these students need a program that asks them to follow along with new concepts by answering frequent questions and writing out responses. To understand the concept of surface area, tactile learners would follow along as it’s explained to them, drawing their own diagrams with accompanying notes. It’s important that if these students are using a digital program that they are still provided with a place to write and take notes.

What type of learner are you? It takes a lot of practice for teachers to teach in a way that reaches all these types of learners, which is why blended learning classrooms are so valuable. It’s an easy way to reach students who may be distracted or unengaged in a purely traditional classroom.

To learn more about how Wowzers K-8 Online Math program can help you reach all types of learners, contact our team or try a free trial

 

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