Date of Award
EdD Education Leadership, Management and Policy
Education Leadership, Management and Policy
Eunyoung Kim, Ph.D.
Christopher Tienken, Ed.D.
Anthony Colella, Ph.D.
Allan DeFina, Ph.D.
Creativity, Critical Thinking, 21st Century Skills, Innovation, Creativity in Education, Cognitive Complexity, Standards
Policy makers and educators have stated that the internationally benchmarked standards will place greater emphasis on 21st century skills including creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, presentation and demonstration, problem solving, research and inquiry, and career readiness. Many educators believe that if schools are “injected” with creativity, students will have a better chance at a prosperous and productive future. Are the current reform movements thwarting the opportunity for students to “find their own niche” and perhaps turning “them into disciples of ‘intellectual clones’ who will do ‘our thing’ rather their own?” (Sternberg, 2003, p. 335). In response to inquiry, this dissertation sought to examine the cognitive complexity of the nationally adopted Common Core State Standards in Grades 9-12 English Language Arts and Math as compared to the cognitive complexity of the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards in Grades 9-12 English Language Arts and Math using Webb’s Depth of Knowledge framework.
My study aimed to reveal the extent to which 21st century skills, such as creativity, critical thinking, strategizing, and problem solving are “infused” into the Common Core State Standards as compared to 21st century skills infused into the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards.
Webb’s Depth of Knowledge is directly linked to cognitive complexity, a measure of 21st century skills such as creativity and innovation. The present study employed a qualitative content analysis using Webb’s Depth of Knowledge methodology to code the standards. Deductive category application was used to connect Webb’s existing Depth of Knowledge framework to the existing CCSS and NJCCSS (Mayring, 2000). Each Depth of Knowledge level represents a specific level of cognitive complexity. The higher the DOK level of a standard, the more cognitively complex the standard. The higher the cognitive complexity of a standard, the more creativity and innovation embedded into the standard. Each standard was rated on a 1-4 Depth of Knowledge level based on Webb’s Depth of Knowledge methodology. The method used was a “double-rater read behind consensus model,” which proved to be an effective “reliability check” when coding standards (Miles, Huberman, & Saldaña, 2014, p. 84; Sato, Lagunoff, & Worth, 2011, p. 11).
The major findings identified as the 9-12 Grade ELA and Math CCSS were compared to the NJCCCS, using the DOK framework, as follows:
1. When using DOK as an analytic framework, the findings indicate that overall both the Grades 9-12 ELA and Math NJCCCS (2008) were rated at a higher level of cognitive complexity as compared to the Grades 9-12 ELA and Math CCSS (2010).
2. The Grades 9-12 ELA NJCCCS were rated at an overall higher percentage of DOK Levels 3 and 4 than were the Grades 9-12 ELA CCSS.
3. The Grades 9-12 Math NJCCCS were rated at an overall higher percentage of DOK Levels 3 and 4 than were the Grades 9-12 Math CCSS.
4. The Grades 9-12 ELA and Math CCSS had a higher percentage of lower rated standards, DOK Levels 1 and 2, as compared to the Grades 9-12 ELA and Math NJCCCS.
This study provides an evidence-based evaluation of the decision of adopting the Common Core State Standards and their effectiveness in preparing students with the academically creative skills necessary to compete in our globally complex 21st century work environment. In addition to contributing to the scant research and literature on creativity in education, policy makers and curriculum writers can use my methodology, as shown in this study, to assess future educational standards and assessments.
Sforza, Dario, "The Inclusion of Cognitive Complexity: A Content Analysis of New Jersey's Current and Past Intended Curriculum" (2014). Seton Hall University Dissertations and Theses (ETDs). 2020.
Curriculum and Instruction Commons, Curriculum and Social Inquiry Commons, Educational Administration and Supervision Commons, Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research Commons, Educational Leadership Commons