Marzano Design Question 4: The Process and Benefits for Common Core State Standards, Part 1

There’s no magic leap into higher order thinking skills. It’s a process, built step by step.

As we move toward Common Core implementation and proficiency in working with Design Question 4 (Helping Students Generate and Test Hypotheses) in the Marzano Teacher Evaluation Model, it’s important to remember that the main reason we work toward creating a DQ 4 classroom is the benefit for students. Creating lifelong learners who have 21st century workplace skills, the ability to analyze and think critically, is crucial if we are going to provide the best for this generation. This is the chief goal of Common Core, and the central focus of Marzano Domain 1.

But moving toward a DQ 4 classroom is a process. Before we get there, it’s essential to construct a foundation built from the necessary skills in Design Question 2 and 3 (Helping Students Interact with New Knowledge, Practicing and Deepening New Knowledge). The teacher who hopes to get students generating hypotheses will first need to cover and identify logic and faulty logic, errors of attack, weak reference misinformation, media influence, and statistical limitations. Students will need to fully grasp the concept of grounds, and look at qualifiers when doing their work. These procedural processes and descriptors have to be taught to, and practiced by, students before they can move on to generating and testing hypotheses. Students would do well to know the scientific process thoroughly. Even if the class is not “doing science” at all.

Think like Thomas Edison: The center of the Marzano Domain 1 Learning Map

Teachers and students could adopt a Think like Tom mindset while moving along a growth continuum. The idea comes from a statement made by Edison in 1877. “During all those years of experimentation and research, I never once made a discovery. I would construct a theory and work on its lines until I found it was untenable. Then it would be discarded at once and another theory evolved. This was the only possible way for me to work out the problem.”*

Thinking like Tom requires a gradual, slow build. Dr. Marzano emphasizes that by the time they reach DQ 3, Element 15 (“organizing students to practice and deepen new knowledge”) teachers will be asking students questions that prompt them to consider multiple perspectives on knowledge. Students should be able to state their position, the reasoning behind their position, and be able to summarize what they learned through perspective analysis. (See Marzano: A different kind of classroom: Teaching with dimensions of learning.)

The Classroom as Lab

This process develops students’ critical thinking, along with deepening understanding of any subject. It relies on in-depth understanding of element 18 of DQ 3, (“helping students examine errors in reasoning”). Deep understanding is the goal. Eventually, the classroom is transformed into a student-centered “lab” where groups of students or individual students are working with the processes identified as decision making, problem solving, and experimental investigation.

We’ll discuss some of the evidences in Thinking Like Tom classrooms in tomorrow’s post.

*From Telegraph to Light Bulb with Thomas Edison (2007) by Deborah Hedstrom

Have you taught students to generate and test hypotheses? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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