Posted by: mrborden | August 13, 2014

Depth of knowledge


Level 1: Recall Level 1 includes the recall of information such as a fact, definition, term, or simple procedure, as well as performing a simple task or applying a concept.Level 1 activity include “identify,” “recall,” “recognize,” “use,” and “measure.” Verbs such as “describe” and “explain” could be classified at different levels depending on what is to be described and explained.

Level 2: Skill/Concept Level 2 includes the engagement of some mental processing beyond a habitual response. A Level 2 assessment item requires students to make some decisions as to how to approach the problem or activity, whereas a Level 1 item requires students to demonstrate a rote response, perform a a skill, follow a set procedure (like a recipe), or perform a clearly defined series of steps. Key words and phrases that generally distinguish a Level 2 item include “classify,” “organize,” “estimate,” “make observations,” “collect and display data,” and “compare data.” These actions imply more than one step. For example, to compare data may require first identifying characteristics of the objects and then grouping or ordering the objects.

Level 3: Strategic Thinking Level 3 requires reasoning, planning, using evidence, and a higher level of thinking than the previous two levels. In most instances, requiring students to explain their thinking is a Level 3 activity. Activities that require students to make conjectures are also at this level. The cognitive demands at Level 3 are complex and abstract. The complexity does not result from the fact that there are multiple answers, a possibility at both Levels 1 and 2, but because the task requires more demanding reasoning. An activity, however, that has more than one possible answer and requires students to justify the response they give would most likely be a Level 3 activity.Other Level 3 activities include drawing conclusions from observations, citing evidence and developing a logical argument for concepts, explaining phenomena in terms of concepts, and using concepts to solve problems.

Level 4: Extended Thinking Level 4 requires complex reasoning, planning, developing, and thinking—most likely over an extended period of time. The extended time period is not a distinguishing factor if the required work is only repetitive and does not require applying significant conceptual understanding and higher-order thinking. For example, if a student has to take the water temperature from a river each day for a month and then construct a graph using scientific data, this would be classified as a Level 2 activity. However, if the student is to conduct a river study that requires taking into consideration a number of variables, this would be a Level 4 activity.

At Level 4, the cognitive demands of the task should be high and the work should be very complex. Students should be required to make several connections—relate ideas within the content area or among content areas—and have to select one approach among many alternatives on how the situation should be solved. Level 4 activities include designing and conducting experiments; making connections between a finding and related concepts and phenomena; combining and synthesizing ideas into new concepts; and critiquing experimental designs.



  1. Hey Mr Borden, I was wondering if you wanted the cell anagram colored?

    • It’s ok if it isn’t but does look better if it is colored , I’m sure it’s great 🙂

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