4.7 Level of Difficulty

Vary the level of difficulty of the course learning activities. Multiple levels of the Cognitive Domain of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning (or other learning taxonomy) are represented in the course.

Points: 2 (Very Important)

QM Alignment: 3.4


To increase student engagement and motivation, the level of difficulty of your course activities should vary and, building on standard 2.4, should reflect the level of the course. Your course activities can also be represented using Bloom’s Taxonomy, ranging from lower-level cognitive processes like remembering and understanding, to higher-order thinking skills like applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating. Lower-level, introductory courses may lean more toward the lower levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, although this does not imply that introductory courses should avoid higher-order thinking skills and activities.


  • Break up larger, more time-consuming activities into parts or stages (instructional scaffolding), such as for a research paper assignment: exploring readings, identifying a topic, identifying initial references, constructing an outline, submitting a first draft, getting and receiving feedback on the draft, and submitting a final paper.
  • You can get feedback and info on the difficulty level of your assignments based on your students’ performance on them, but you can also survey students for feedback and input on potential improvements to your course via a midterm student feedback survey, as well as looking at student comments on your end-of-course survey.

Common Issues

  • Course activities that are too easy or too difficult / time-consuming, and do not reflect the level of the course.
  • Difficulty of activities in-class, in homework, and on assessments are not aligned.



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