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Stages of Understanding: Expand


Stage 3: Expand

In this stage students are able to use concrete knowledge in support of ideas that are abstract, unclear, or have more than one possible option.  Students draw from multiple reservoirs of curriculum-aligned knowledge and learning within or between subject areas to evaluate how or why something came to be.  Students build on what they know from the know and use stages in order to produce an original product.

Equivalent Stages: Bloom’s Analyze/Evaluate, Webb’s Short-Term Strategic Thinking, Costa’s Text Implicit/Experience Based


Gradations Within the Stage

Approaching Mastery:  Guided use of limited or curated sources.  May involve structural supports.

Achieving Mastery:  Independent selection of source material with limited to no structural support.


Sources of Authority

At this stage sources of authority are both outside and within the student.  The student demonstrates his or her authority through the appropriate use of reasoning and rhetorical skill in order to make connections between curricular knowledge and an original claim or argument.


Character/Nature of Learning

Student learning at this stage is driven by the student and requires simple analysis of multiple sources of information and synthesis to build connections and reach new understandings.


Character/Nature of Assessment

Student learning in this stage can be measured using a combination of measures.  Important to assessment at this level is the use of qualitative measures that expand expectations of students beyond a checklist and call for demonstration of understanding.  Assessment tools include the use of moderate to complex rubrics.



  • Making and supporting a complex claim while evaluating source validity.

  • Justifying an action or procedure based on abstract principles.