January 15, 2013

Design Question 4

John Edwards
Staff Developer , Learning Sciences International

Test it out, draw a conclusion

We have been looking at holistic views of the Marzano Teacher Evaluation Model to gain an understanding of how it helps us improve instruction. In this post, we want to look at the least used and understood design question, Design Question 4, Helping Students Generate and Test Hypotheses and how DQ4 works with Design Question 2, Helping Students Interact with New Knowledge and Design Question 3, Helping Students Practice and Deepen New Knowledge to provide us with a pathway to the Common Core State Standards.

Design Question 2 helps students recall and describe new knowledge. But students still have not stored their new knowledge in long-term memory, and they may have only a shallow understanding. Design Question 3, Helping Students Practice and Deepen New Knowledge through comparing and contrasting declaratory knowledge, and practicing procedural knowledge, builds connection with concepts already understood and fluency in using the skill, strategy, or process.

But to really embed knowledge into long-term memory and move towards becoming independent lifelong learners, students need one more step: Design Question 4, which focuses on generating and testing hypotheses. This design question consists of three elements:

•  Organizing Students for Cognitively Complex Tasks
•  Engaging Students in Cognitively Complex Tasks
•  Providing Resources and Guidance

Moving Students toward Responsibility for Learning
Students take their deepened knowledge or fluent skill and apply it in a different way or context to generate new understandings and insights. They are now thinking at the highest levels, Utilization of New Knowledge with the Marzano Taxonomy or evaluation with Bloom’s Taxonomy. Students are literally experimenting with their newfound knowledge by predicting what will happen if it is applied differently; designing an experiment to test this hypothesis; performing the experiment and drawing their conclusions. Students have now become responsible for their own learning, having traveled from beingconsumersof knowledge to users of knowledge. They are now at the level demanded by Common Core State Standards.

Marzano describes four methods for engaging students in complex tasks:
•  Decision making: using deepened knowledge or fluent skill to develop criteria, brainstorm possible solutions, evaluate each, and making a decision.
•  Problem solving: using deepened knowledge or fluent skill in a different context to solve a problem.
•  Experimental inquiry: using deepened knowledge or fluent skill to form a hypothesis, test it out, and draw a conclusion.
•  Investigation: using deepened knowledge or fluent skill to attempt to solve a mystery from the past or present.

Possible examples of each include:
•  After studying the difference between conservatives and liberals, have students use a decision analysis to determine their own beliefs.
•  After studying the chemical makeup of mold, determine the best way to remove it.
•  After studying the effects of alcohol, design an experiment to show what it might do to the organs of the body.
•  After studying the assassination of John F. Kennedy launch an investigation to determine if more than one gunman was involved.

As you can see, Design Question 4 allows students to use newly learned information and procedures to connect it to the real world so they not only know but can utilize it.

Readers, please share some examples of Design Question 4 lessons that you have seen! And join us and your colleagues around the world for a deep dive into Design Question 4 and other strategies at this summer’s Marzano Conference 2013.

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