Why Challenging Academic Tasks?

  • “If we want students to develop the capacity to think, reason, and problem solve, then we need to start with high-level, cognitively complex tasks.”

    Stein and Lane 1996

    Cognitive Demand – The cognitive demand is the kind and level of thinking required of students in order to successfully engage with and solve the task.

    (Stein, M. K., Smith, M. S., Henningsen, M.A., & Silver, E. A., 2000. Implementing standards-based mathematics instruction: A casebook for professional development. New York: Teachers College Press).

    So what is a Cognitively Demanding Task or CDT?

    • Are aligned to grade-level standards

    • Require higher order thinking skills (Bloom taxonomy of Learning)

    • Require strategic thinking (short or long term- Webb Depth Of Knowledge)

    • In many cases, involve complex texts (consider the disciplinary description of “text”)

    • In math, balance conceptual knowledge, procedural knowledge, and application

How can we measure tasks to make sure they are cognitively demanding?

Hess Matrix- Helps to Identify The Cognitive Demand of Tasks

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