Six Ways Teachers Can Support Rigor by Deepening Thinking


By Karin Hess

What does it appear and audio like when your college students are undertaking demanding work and imagining deeply? More than the a long time I’ve heard a lot of misconceptions about rigor, these as “increasing rigor means supplying college students more or harder operate to do.”

A misguided view of rigor can make discovering inaccessible to a lot of students who can believe deeply. Instructors want to know how to set the stage to uncover their thinking and help them deepen their comprehending.

Elevating anticipations is NOT as simple as assigning difficult texts to study or employing larger-order verbs (e.g., review, synthesize) to explain what learners are going to do during a lesson.

How cognitive rigor operates

Cognitive rigor is developed by the conversation of 3 crucial components: articles complexity + cognitive engagement + the intended scope and depth of the discovering activity.

1. Articles Complexity: Intricate ideas and methods (e.g., concrete vs . abstract thoughts literal vs . figurative interpretations practical programs versus theories) usually involve supports to boost entry and engagement.

2. Cognitive Engagement: Engagement with the articles (occasionally defined using Depth-of-Expertise/DOK concentrations) describes how deeply we want college students to use their comprehension to entire a job – from surface area-level recall to conceptual comprehension, problem solving, or in-depth extended wondering.

We know from brain investigation that psychological engagement precedes deeper cognitive engagement. When college students initially make private connections to new content – “what do I already know about this matter?”  or “how is this issue applicable to me/my earth?” –  doorways to complicated mental processing and trouble-solving commence to open.

3. Scope and Depth: The scope of the prepared discovering or assessment action influences the over-all cognitive rigor, particularly when multiple sources need to be analyzed and interpreted or a intricate item of discovering is to be formulated (e.g., study project, podcast, multimedia presentation).


Rising rigor need to go hand in hand with supports that enable each pupil obtain the meaning of the written content (a new method, strategy, or idea) before they are requested to demonstrate it, use it, or evaluate it.

Supplying qualifications understanding connected to a topic prior to introducing a advanced text or breaking down a intricate strategy into quite a few steps are examples of strategically scaffolding complicated information. Even adult learners advantage from scaffolding when tackling complicated material!

6 Techniques We Can Uncover Arduous Contemplating and Assistance Learners Deepen Understanding

Teachers can elicit proof of cognitive rigor by inquiring students to brainstorm attainable options as a substitute of asking for one correct alternative by applying suggestions to refine their efficiency, fairly than telling students what to proper or by possessing them observe utilizing metacognitive abilities even though monitoring their possess learning processes.

I’ve determined six strategies to go students’ thinking to further concentrations of knowing and made a “student-friendly” infographic of the 6 tactics. This can be printed as a poster or cut apart and used as undertaking cards as metacognitive prompts when pupils are engaging in collaborative discourse or working by way of a elaborate obstacle.

Some lecturers print and use the cards to develop cubes that can be rolled like dice to randomly select a prompt for compact group conversations or reflective journaling.

Technique Strategies
(click a graphic to enlarge – resource links offer you much more details)

We develop possibilities for cognitive engagement and further thinking when inquiring learners to …

Source: sketchnoting

Source: text structures

Resource: Surprise Wall

Useful resource: Collaborative Inquiry Scheduling

Useful resource: peer conferencing or suggestions worksheet

Resource: Just one pagers, ELA, math/science, social studies


When we know what rigorous thinking can search and seem like, we can help students to use a lot of of these strategies in practically any lesson.

Karin Hess, author of the Hess Cognitive Rigor Matrices and many articles or blog posts and books, is a former classroom teacher and college administrator. She is acknowledged internationally as a leader in making use of cognitive rigor, depth of awareness (DOK), and discovering progressions to the growth of point out and university-dependent curriculum and evaluation techniques.  She can be contacted through her site


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Natasha M. McKnight

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