Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

School Name

Annsley Frazier Thornton School of Education



Major Advisor

Dr. David Paige

Second Advisor

Dr. Grant Smith

Third Advisor

Dr. Kathy Cooter


This research study attempted to identify the impact that cognitive complexity has on student engagement. The primary research questions asked were: What are the effects of depth of knowledge and learning mode on student engagement? Are there interaction effects among depth of knowledge and learning mode and what impact does the interaction have on student engagement? And, are there any variances in interaction effect by educational level (elementary, middle or high school) for depth of knowledge and learning mode on student engagement? This study attempted to determine if cognitive complexity of learning using depth of knowledge (DOK), and learning mode (LM) as measured by whether students were working alone or with others, were catalysts to increasing student engagement. A common walkthrough instrument was used across all grade levels K-12 to collect the data. Data analyses did indicate that DOK was a factor in increasing student engagement across all levels and that the interaction of learning mode resulted in improvement in student engagement across the broad K-12 setting. However, when broken down by educational level, while DOK consistently increases student engagement, the data indicated that the interaction of DOK*LM and LM were significant in increasing student engagement at the high school level. At the elementary and middle school neither LM nor the interaction of DOK and LM had an impact on increasing student engagement. The research results indicated LM operates in a supportive fashion to DOK.