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Alice Keeler

Critical Thinking: What is DOK 2?

Critical thinking can be measured on a 4 point scale of Depth of Knowledge. What is DOK 2 and how is it different than DOK 1?
What is DOK 2
Critical Thinking: What is DOK 2?

As educators, we strive to instill critical thinking skills in our students. These skills are crucial for problem-solving, making informed decisions, and navigating our increasingly complex world. In an age of Generative AI (ChatGPT, Bard, etc…) analyze and critique become much more valuable. One tool that helps us categorize and enhance these skills is the Depth of Knowledge (DOK) framework. DOK is measured on a scale of 1 to 4, although I like to include DOK 0 for tasks such as “copying” that do not require any recall. In this article I will explore “What is DOK 2?”

Depth of Knowledge (DOK)

DOK, or Depth of Knowledge, was developed by Dr. Norman Webb as a framework to categorize tasks according to the complexity of thinking required. DOK levels range from 1 (Recall and Reproduction) to 4 (Extended Thinking).

My quick and dirty for DOK:

“How much figure it out is there?” 

DOK is not how hard a task is, but rather how much complex reasoning there is.

Robert Kaplinsky describes in his blog how building a rocket to the moon is difficult, but there is a guide on how to build it and if you follow the directions it should work. Complex is raising a child. What works with one child doesn’t necessarily work with another. 

What is DOK 2

DOK 2, also termed “Skill/Concept,” involves:

1. Understanding Concepts: Going beyond mere recall, students at DOK 2 engage with content, understanding the relationships between ideas.

2. Applying Skills and Concepts: At this level, students can use a skill or concept in a situation that requires decision making, reasoning, or both.

3. Processing Information: Students often need to categorize, organize, compare, or contrast information to complete DOK 2 tasks.

Examples of DOK 2 tasks include:


1. Given a sequence, students predict the next few numbers based on the pattern.

2. Students classify triangles based on side lengths and angles.

3. Interpreting information from a graph or chart.

4. Solving word problems that require a single operation.

5. Drawing conclusions from data in a table.

English Language Arts:

6. Comparing and contrasting characters within or between texts.

7. Making predictions about a story’s outcome based on textual evidence.

8. Identifying the main idea of a passage.

9. Interpreting the meaning of a metaphor or simile.

10. Summarizing the plot of a story without copying the text.


11. Designing an experiment to test the effects of sunlight on plant growth.

12. Classifying animals based on their characteristics.

13. Predicting the outcome of a simple chemical reaction.

14. Drawing a food chain based on given information.

15. Interpreting results from a basic lab experiment.

Social Studies:

16. Comparing two historical events or figures.

17. Interpreting information from a historical map.

18. Identifying the main idea of a primary source document.

19. Predicting the next event in a historical timeline.

20. Classifying types of government based on given characteristics.

Physical Education:

21. Demonstrating the proper technique for a basic volleyball serve.

22. Comparing the rules of two different games or sports.

23. Interpreting the benefits of regular exercise from a chart.

24. Designing a basic fitness routine based on specific goals.

25. Predicting outcomes of sports events based on team statistics.


26. Comparing two pieces of music from different genres.

27. Interpreting the mood of a piece based on musical elements.

28. Identifying patterns in a musical piece.

29. Predicting the next note in a melody based on a pattern.

30. Summarizing the theme of a song’s lyrics.


31. Comparing and contrasting two art pieces from different periods.

32. Interpreting the mood of a painting based on color choices.

33. Designing a piece inspired by a famous artist.

34. Predicting trends in art based on past movements.

35. Summarizing the main idea of an art piece without copying it.

Foreign Language:

36. Comparing and contrasting cultural customs from two different countries.

37. Predicting the next line in a conversation based on context.

38. Classifying verbs based on conjugation patterns.

39. Interpreting the main idea of a short passage in a foreign language.

40. Designing a dialogue using specific vocabulary words.


41. Comparing nutritional facts between two food products.

42. Interpreting a food label to identify healthy ingredients.

43. Designing a balanced meal plan for a day.

44. Predicting the health effects of a certain habit or behavior.

45. Summarizing the steps of a first aid procedure.


46. Comparing two different software based on their features.

47. Predicting the next trend in technology based on current events.

48. Interpreting data from a digital analytics report.

49. Designing a basic webpage layout.

50. Summarizing the functions of a particular digital tool or application.

Critical Thinking is At Least DOK 2

When we talk about critical thinking it means elevating tasks past simply recalling facts or information. Following an algorithm or set of directions, even hard ones, are still DOK 1. DOK 1: “Identify the discriminant for a quadratic equation that isn’t presented in its standard format.” This requires the student to do multiple steps and can be challenging. However, if the students follows the steps in their notes carefully they can be successful. There is no level of decision making in this question.

Beware the DOK Wheel

If you Google search DOK surely you will come across the dreaded DOK wheel. As Erik Francis points out, the wheel is inaccurate. It truly requires your own complex analysis of the task to ask “how complex is the students level of reasoning?”

Did the students have to figure anything out? Justify their reasoning? Note that “show your work” is not justifying reasoning. It is identifying the steps of an algorithm that was followed.

When you directly show students how to complete a task, and they follow your steps to do that task, the DOK level of the task is reduced to recall. Are the students identifying the patterns or are we telling them the patterns? This makes a big difference when it comes to how students approach a task on their own.

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