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Literature Review

In the 21
century, it is necessary for students to not only be able to read well, but also to
successfully think critically and engage in higher order thinking about their reading. Blooms
Taxonomy of Educational Objectives and Webbs Depth of Knowledge (DOK) model both help
teachers develop cognitive rigor in student thinking through defined curriculum and instructional
processes. The DOK model was developed in 1997 by Webb in order to analyze the alignment of
state standards with standardized assessments and curriculum. The table below creates a teacher
friendly example of what each step of Webbs DOK model calls for and how teachers can define
the difference between DOK 1 looking for students to recall facts versus DOK 4 in which
students are performing tasks to apply what they know from DOK 1 to the real world around
Table 2
Webbs depth-of-knowledge (DOK) levels (Webb 1997, 1999)
Level -- Description
DOK-1 Recall & Reproduction Recall a fact, term, principle, or concept;
perform a routine procedure.
DOK-2 Basic Application of Skills/Concepts Use information, conceptual
knowledge; select appropriate procedures for a task; perform two or more steps with
decision points along the way; solve routine problems; organize or display data;
interpret or use simple graphs.
DOK-3 Strategic Thinking Reason or develop a plan to approach a problem;
employ some decision-making and justification; solve abstract, complex, or non-
routine problems, complex. (DOK-3 problems often allow more than one possible
DOK-4 Extended Thinking Perform investigations or apply concepts and skills
to the real world that require time to research, problem solve, and process multiple
conditions of the problem or task; perform non-routine manipulations across
disciplines, content areas, or multiple sources.
Webbs DOK model has been an effective tool for measuring students higher-level
thinking based on its four levels. The DOK levels also act as a strategic vehicle to teach
advanced levels of cognition as an integral part of the enacted curriculum (Olvera & Walkup,
2010, p. 1). Students must be accountable for their own learning in order to own it and be
successful in deepening their thinking. Hess, Jones, Carlock, and Walkups (2009) research
focuses on the importance of teachers utilizing the protocols of DOK and Blooms Taxonomy so
that students are able to learn and apply the rigorous skills and knowledge which they will need
to succeed in the future. The article goes on to assert that when lessons are planned by teachers
based on Webbs DOK model and Blooms Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, students will
be more prepared for college courses with increased demands for critical thinking.
The reader will note that the original taxonomy that Bloom developed in 1956 has been
revised as of the year 2000. The newer model includes the following modified process sequence:
RememberUnderstandApplyAnalyzeEvaluateCreate. A cognitively rigorous
curriculum is the key piece to deepening students knowledge and advancing to higher levels of
Blooms Taxonomy within the classroom. Teaching students higher-level thinking skills is
becoming the goal of state standards, curricula, and assessments (Roach, McGrath, Wixson, &
Talapatra, 2010, Williams, 2007).
The use of depth of knowledge is just beginning to be used at the classroom level and can
be done by teachers and students using specific questioning strategies that develop students
thinking processes. Although this investigation will focus more closely on students creating the
questions about their learning, Olvera and Walkups (2010) research provide insight to the types
of questions that would benefit students understandings. From their article Questioning
Strategies for Teaching Cognitively Rigorous Curricula, the three-step questioning method
which teachers can use to engage all students and prepare them for higher-level thinking include:
1) Ask the entire class the question 2) Choose an effective grouping method 3) Choose an
adequate wait time. Each piece of this method is essential in order to create an environment in
which students can grow and learn comfortably in order to spark their desire to think more
deeply and powerfully beyond the surface of their learning. Similarly, Robert McBains (2011)
research calls for students to develop their own motivation and self-regulation in terms of
questioning based on higher-level and critical thinking just as my investigation will (Paige,
Sizemore, & Neace, 2013). His research showed a gap in successful or complete responses when
the critical thinking questions advanced in difficulty and depth. Therefore, more research is
necessary in terms of focusing in different classroom with depth of knowledge questioning.
Although it may have been the results from these two classrooms that showed a lacking of
higher-level thinking, it is apparent that these types of critical thinking questions based on a topic
that appear higher on the Blooms Taxonomy scale would benefit student learning and
understanding for the classroom as a whole. Teachers can facilitate this type of learning by
planning their lessons with higher-level critical thinking questions in mind. This study also
shows that students using problem solving skills and researching a topic or project more deeply
will help them be able to successfully answer questions that are based on the higher levels of
Blooms Taxonomy (McBain, 2011, Drapeau, 2009).
Qaisar Sultanas study on Scholarly Teaching--Application of Bloom's Taxonomy in
Kentucky's Classrooms (2001) suggests that teachers should have the ability to learn and master
the skills of teaching higher order thinking to their students by being educated on the levels of
Blooms Taxonomy. This can be directly related to this investigation as teachers within the
school district I currently student teach in are being given supports and trainings in order to
implement the Common Core Standards into their classrooms focusing on critical thinking and
deeper meaning throughout the subjects.
Vrchota (2004) explains how question and answer sessions are a time when learning can
occur in that speakers can reinforce their expertise and credibility, and audience members have
the opportunity to present themselves as thoughtful and competent communicators. (Vrchota,
2004, p. 2) This concept relates directly to my current inquiry in which students both asking and
answering questions based what they have read. The importance of students developing their
questions cannot be overstated. Focusing on all the classifications of Blooms Taxonomy can
challenge both instructors and students. For the instructor, the major challenge may be the
classroom organization required to ensure audience members have the opportunity and the
responsibility to think at various levels of the Taxonomy. For students, the major challenge may
be formatting questions to reflect a specific level of the Taxonomy (Vrchota, 2004, p. 4).
From the above studies I have been able to form a deeper foundation for my investigation
regarding the importance of developing students ability to engage in higher order thinking in the
classroom. The types of jobs that have developed in our 21
century now, more than ever,
require skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity (Olvera & Walkup, 2009).
These studies confirm that incorporating deeper and more critical thinking into reading
instruction will be beneficial for student learning and understanding.

Drapeau, P. (2009). Promoting Content Complexity and Depth of Reasoning.
Understanding Our Gifted, 22(1), 7-10.

Hess, K. K., Jones, B. S., Carlock, D., & Walkup, J. R. (2009). Cognitive Rigor:
Blending the Strengths of Bloom's Taxonomy and Webb's Depth of Knowledge to
Enhance Classroom-Level Processes. Online Submission,

McBain, R. (2011). How High Can Students Think? A Study of Students' Cognitive
Levels Using Bloom's Taxonomy in Social Studies. Online Submission,

Paige, D. D., Sizemore, J. M., & Neace, W. P. (2013). Working inside the Box:
Exploring the Relationship between Student Engagement and Cognitive Rigor. NASSP
Bulletin, 97(2), 105-123.

Roach, A. T., McGrath, D., Wixson, C., & Talapatra, D. (2010). Aligning an Early
Childhood Assessment to State Kindergarten Content Standards: Application of a
Nationally Recognized Alignment Framework. Educational Measurement: Issues And
Practice, 29(1), 25-37.

Sultana, Q. (2001). Scholarly Teaching--Application of Bloom's Taxonomy in
Kentucky's Classrooms.

Williams, R. (2007). Higher Order Thinking Skills: Challenging All Students to Achieve.
Corwin Press.

Vrchota, D. (2004). Touchstone Award: Challenging Students' Thinking with Bloom's
"Taxonomy". Communication Teacher, 18(1), 2-5.