D.O.K.: It Is Not Just About the Verb

As an educator, I am happy to grab tools that help simplify my work and (hopefully) save me time. In fact, making those tools is something I myself love to do! As such, I have collected several versions of graphics that put verbs into categories to support educators in their attempt to determine the Depth of Knowledge (D.O.K.) of a task. However, D.O.K. is about the critical thinking required by the student and not about the verbs on a chart. The verb itself does not determine the D.O.K. We must focus instead on what comes after the verb to discover the mental processing and the context in which students communicate their thinking. I know, I know, why can’t anything just be easy! 

Let me illustrate my point using the verb identify being used in four different D.O.K. levels. Based on what follows the verb, what D.O.K. levels (1-4) would you assign each?

A.) Students will identify interrelationships (themes, ideas, concepts) developed in more than one literary work.
B.) Students will identify essential information needed to accomplish a task.
C.) Students will identify the appropriateness of an argument using supporting evidence.
D.) Students will identify information in a passage that is supported by a fact.

Answers: A = 4  B = 1 C = 3  D = 2

How did you do? Let’s try another one using the verb create. Based on what follows the verb, what D.O.K. levels (1-4) would you assign each?

A.) Create a list of spelling words.
B.) Create an original music score in the style of Bach.
C.) Create a similar math problem.
D.) Create an argument on how the character grows throughout the novel.

Answers: A = 1 B = 4 C = 2 D = 3

It’s not the verb. It’s not the tool. Neither will replace the messy process one must go through to develop an understanding of the different ways to interact with content.

D.O.K. is a complicated topic where a quick and easy fix is not going to happen, but all students can and should have access to an education that includes all 4 levels.