Using Webb's Depth of Knowledge Levels in the Classroom

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: What Does Student Engagement Look Like?

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:03 Webb's Depth of…
  • 2:00 Levels of Knowledge
  • 5:01 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Andrew Diamond

Andrew has worked as an instructional designer and adjunct instructor. He has a doctorate in higher education and a master's degree in educational psychology.

In this lesson you'll learn about Webb's depth of knowledge levels and how they can be utilized to plan or enhance lessons in the classroom. Examples are provided and a short quiz follows.

Webb's Depth of Knowledge Levels

As educators, we all want to make sure students fully understand the concepts of a lesson. We often wonder if students really 'get' what we're talking about when we're yammering away. There are many layers to understanding most concepts. Sure, it's all well and good to know who signed the Declaration of Independence, but that isn't really understanding the totality of the subject. Well, have no fear educators of America, Norman Webb has come to the rescue!

Webb's depth of knowledge is a way of categorizing tasks based on the complexity of thought they provoke. Webb mapped out the many ways teachers assign a task, such as listing the main characters or analyzing the reasoning, and organized them into four levels of knowledge based on the cognitive challenge posed by each method.

We'll try and explain it using some imagery. Imagine a monkey swimming through custard. That has nothing to do with the lesson, mind you; it's just funny. Ok, for real this time: think of four people standing in front of you. The first one isn't a person at all, but a robot! Not one of those smart ones, either. All it can do is regurgitate information back at you and perform menial tasks. The second person is an engineer, which you can tell because he has a hard hat and protractor. Picture it! This guy cares all about patterns and categorizing things. He's always making graphs, which is probably why he has few friends. Next down the line is a general in the army. This lady (that's right, we're breaking down stereotypes!) is a strategic thinker, assessing situations, formulating plans, and using logic to make arguments. Finally, our last person is a philosopher, probably wearing a toga. He thinks deeply on subjects, critiquing them, providing analysis, and proving what is and is not true. These are our four levels.

The graphic below details just a few of the possible tasks used and how they align to each of the levels.

Depth of Knowledge Levels
Webbs depth of knowledge levels

Levels of Knowledge

Alright, now that we have a good understanding of what each of these levels relates to, we'll go through how you can implement the levels into your classroom.

Level One

The first level is the most superficial. In this level we're primarily concerned with memorizing and recalling facts. This involves rote memorization or using a formula to produce a result, like a robot, right?

Let's say we have students who are working on a reading assignment and you want to utilize level one knowledge. You might have these students find words they don't understand and then use a dictionary to look them up. Maybe they could draw a character from a book based on the descriptors used by the author. You could have them match quotes you've pulled from the text to characters or scenarios. These are all examples of simple recall, the domain of level one.

Level Two

Now we've moved on to the second level, which is geared around taking the memorized knowledge of level one and applying some degree of comprehension. At this level, students are organizing or classifying level one knowledge or constructing graphs and identifying patterns. This is where our engineer comes into play, organizing and planning our information. He has a lot of spare time to do this, because he has no friends. Poor guy.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create An Account