Looking for Rigor in All the 'Right' Places
Ask ten different teachers what rigor looks like in their classrooms; you’ll likely hear ten different answers. Responses typically reflect some understanding of rigor mixed in with a few common misconceptions. Working to build a common understanding of how to support deeper learning begins with dispelling misconceptions and then collaboratively developing strategies that support all students in being successful with rigorous tasks.
First, let’s begin with some definitions:
Cognitive rigor encompasses three key ideas: the complexity of the content, the cognitive engagement with that content (sometimes called Depth of Knowledge/DOK), and the scope or breadth of the learning activity. Cognitive demand describes the potential range of mental processing required to complete a given task, within a given context or scenario. We can use strategic scaffolding strategies to purposefully make either complex content or complex tasks more accessible to all students, thus reducing the overall cognitive demand.