Last year, I attended several workshops at Marzano Research Labs (alongside Will Cropper, Bill Kehrman, Sarah Sherwood, Dusty Weber, and Craig Rogers). I recall seeing a graphic showing a definition of rigor that I greatly appreciated (see right). You can see the definition we worked with at the workshops was oriented toward seeing rigor as a complex mental process done autonomously by the student. As a unit of study progresses, complexity and autonomy should increase, so the summative assessment then is a complex work completed individually by the student.
Recently I came across a blog post (Improving Instruction in a Digital World) by Eric Sheninger, a high school principal from Texas, that replaced this definition of rigor clarifying the x-axis with Bloom’s Taxonomy and the y-axis with application (see left). You’ll notice in this different, yet similar, definition of rigor, the shift from autonomy to interdisciplinary work may offer something more inspiring as teachers. Thinking about the A quadrant, I admit my best teaching tended to achieve application within theology alone. I vividly recall my students during the ACT last year sharing the essay prompt and my consternation as they missed integrating the concepts studied in Sacramentality with their answers. When I asked them why they did not integrate concepts from class in their answer, their personal frustration at their lack of flexibility (which they understood would have greatly increased the quality of their response) left me with an internal question: how do I help them learn, rather than simply recall during my 80 minutes of instruction.
This framework, the Rigor/Relevance Framework, offers this for me. It excites me, yet I realize it can only be achieved as a community here at Regis Jesuit. Mr. Sheninger writes,
“Learning must always be relevant, meaningful, and applicable. Student engagement is a bedrock necessity of attentive and deep learning. Excitement about academic growth, in turn, drives increased student achievement, not only in terms of meeting and exceeding standards, but also in terms of learning that extends into all realms of life. With the solid pedagogical foundation that the Rigor and Relevance Framework provides, digital tools and social media afford students the opportunity to take more ownership of their growth and development.”
He adds this chart in his reflection showing the use of technology to help achieve the rigor this framework encourages (see right). In looking at the Proficiency Scales you may be working on with your peers, look at the verbs and the levels of application (A, B, C and D from the chart above) to help craft 3.0 goals that may provide more rigorous learning. Then, when you want to find ways to have students make their learning visible, you or they might use some of these technology ideas to assess their learning in engaging ways.
I must admit, looking at the chart is very intimidating. I am far from quadrant D. But, I would like to get to B, then C, and ultimately, with the help of others, to D.
For further ideas on using technology to achieve this rigor, he offers this post on How Digital Tools Improve Teaching and Learning. In it, he outlines the key characteristics of useful education technology and shares this graphic: