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When executed well, the three design questions discussed thus far move students to a point at which they have a good understanding of new information (declarative knowledge) and can perform new skills, strategies, and processes (procedural knowledge) with some fluency. These are noteworthy accomplishments. If the teacher wishes to move students beyond these levels of knowing, then students should be engaged in tasks that require them to experiment with the new knowledge. In the vernacular of this design question, students must generate and test hypotheses about the new knowledge.
In the Classroom
Let's look in again on our classroom scenario. After students have some basic information about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Mr. Hutchins assigns the following task:
You are observing the interactions of those individuals who made the ultimate decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. What are some of the other alternatives the committee probably considered? What criteria did they use to evaluate the alternatives they were considering, and what value did they place on those criteria that led them to their final decision? Before you gather information about this issue, make your best guess at the alternatives and criteria you think they were considering. Then reexamine your guess after you have collected information on the topic.