Course Standards

Standard 1: Rigor

Why the Standard is Important

Rigor is "creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at high levels, each student is supported so he or she can learn at high levels, and each student demonstrates learning at high levels. (Barbara Blackburn, 2008). Increasing rigor in the classroom changes the way students learn, process, retain, and apply information. As learning occurs at higher levels of rigor, the complexity of a student’s problem-solving ability increases, enabling a deeper understanding and mastery of material. Rigor is closely associated with relevance, or linking the classroom to the “real-world.” Rigor with relevance in the classroom prepares students for long-term success beyond graduation.

Examples for How to Address This Standard

  1. Bloom’s Taxonomy is the classic framework for increasing rigor. Bloom’s cognitive learning domain focuses on knowledge and developing cognitive skills. Lists of verbs are associated with each of the following categories:

    1. knowledge/awareness
    2. comprehension
    3. application
    4. analysis
    5. synthesis
    6. evaluation

    Course and outcome (performance) objectives define the expectation of rigor based on which verbs are selected. If basic knowledge is desired, performance may be set at level 1 or 2. If more complex thinking is desired, levels 4-6 are appropriate choices. Raise the expectation of performance from the beginning through higher level objectives.

  2. To employ rigor, well designed objectives must be implemented using proper methods of instruction. Higher level cognitive skills require opportunities for the student to make inquiries, actively engage the topic, problem-solve, and create solutions. Students learn strategies on how to approach challenging material, gather relevant information, analyze the problem and learn from their success or mistakes. Problem-based or case-based learning opportunities are an example of allowing active, engaged thinking and problem-solving to occur in the classroom.

  3. Rigor is seldom discussed without relevance. Relevance that elevates rigor may be incorporated into the classroom by utilizing authentic problems, cases, or tasks; using simulation models; incorporating current events; and/or allowing students to teach others what they know.


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