Best Practices

Published on November 17th, 2014 | by Aaron Hart

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Depth of Knowledge Question Stems for Physical Education

Are you trying to understand rigor, depth of knowledge (DOK), and evaluation frameworks? What ever happened to good old-fashioned skill and fitness development?

With increasing emphasis and accountability based on academic rigor, physical educators find themselves (as usual) working with documents and resources designed and tested for other content areas. It can be frustrating – to say the least.

In an effort to help the good cause, I’ll be working over the next few months to decode and translate popular DOK resources into documents designed by and for physical educators.

DOK Question Stems

The first resource that I’ll tackle is a great document created by Dr. Norman Webb (the originator of DOK) with a Flip Chart developed by Myra Collins. This page of DOK Question Stems provides general suggestions for crafting discussion and assessment questions at each Depth of Knowledge Level. I’ve found this resource very useful. However, using it often seems clunky because it requires an extra step of transposing the general spirit of each question from the general classroom into the gym.

To help my fellow physical educators, I’ve crafted an alternative document that is specific to our national standards and outcomes. Here is an example of how each question stem could be used at each level.

DOK 1 – Recall & Reproduction

  • Question Stem: Can you remember the cues for (skill / task)?
  • Debrief Question: Can you remember the cues for basketball dribbling?
  • The answer is straight forward – “Waist high, finger pads, eyes up.”

DOK 2 – Skills & Concepts

  • Question Stem: How did (concept) affect (performance)?
  • Debrief Question: How did the force you used in your kick affect your accuracy?
  • The answer requires reflection and a more in-depth answer – “The more force that I used, the harder it was to control my kick. It decreased accuracy.”

DOK 3 – Strategic Thinking / Reasoning

  • Question Stem: How is (concept) related to (performance / skill)?
  • Debrief Question: How is aerobic capacity related to your score on the Pacer test? What is your interpretation of your score?
  • In this example I’m using two question stems for a more in-depth and thoughtful answer – “The greater a person’s aerobic capacity the better that person will score on the Pacer test. I scored below the Healthy Fitness Zone for the Pacer test; therefore I need to improve my aerobic capacity.”

DOK 4 – Extended Thinking

  • Question Stem: Develop a comprehensive (performance) plan.
  • Assessment Question: Develop a comprehensive physical activity and wellness plan.
  • You’ll notice that this example is not a question, but more of an assessment directive. However, to maintain consistency Webb and Collins keep the Question Stem vernacular. At DOK level 4 students will demonstrate extended thinking that incorporates the content previously learned and applies it to a relevant topic or task. In this case students are asked to develop a comprehensive plan based on their skills, abilities, preferences and needs. Many might argue that this could be a summative exit assessment for our high school physical education students.

This is the first installment of my DOK / Rigor resource translations. I’ll be back next week with more! Please share this link and comment in this post to help extend our thinking!

Work hard. Have fun!

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About the Author

is the Director of Educational Programs for US Games and teaches as a part-time faculty member in SUNY Cortland’s Physical Education Department. Aaron has been teaching physical education for seventeen years, serving all levels from Early Childhood through Graduate School. He’s provided over 150 professional development workshops in 36 states and Canada.



4 Responses to Depth of Knowledge Question Stems for Physical Education

  1. Diane Walker says:

    Aaron, the question and answer examples are helpful. Thanks!

  2. Luisa Meyer says:

    Thanks for this idea! I’ll have it handy for rainy days.

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