Theory into Practice: New Research Using the Hess CRMs

From time to time, I’m asked for feedback on the design of new research studies using my work. This was the case in January of 2015 when doctoral student, Ian Banner, sent me an email:


“… after much reading, I have decided on an approach for my dissertation. As part of an action research that formally explores middle-school teachers' perceptions and understanding of academic rigor, I have crafted four open-ended questions, which will be posed to all teachers in phase 1 of a 3-4 phase study. As an expert in the field and based on your own work in the area of rigor, I wondered if you could find the time to simply review the questions and let me know if you feel that they would be appropriate and, therefore, meet content validity standards in capturing teachers’ insights on this construct?”


That was only the beginning of an interesting research study that has earned Ian his doctorate from the University of Bridgeport, in CT. Methods for the study included an extensive literature review, teacher interviews, and classroom observations to determine teachers’ understanding of rigor. A teacher-oriented instructional intervention that used the Hess Cognitive Rigor Matrix (2013) was combined with a three-step planning process, and an Implementation Rigor Rubric (designed by the researcher), to guide teachers in deliberately designing and implementing rigor in classroom tasks that demanded higher-level student thinking.


Click here for a brief summary of Ian‘s research findings.

Karin Hess, Ed.D, is a recognized international leader in developing practical approaches for using cognitive rigor and learning progressions as the foundation for formative, interim, and performance assessments.



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© since July 2014 Karin Hess, Ed.D.