Determining Relative Importance
This support material is incorporated into critical challenges at grade 4, however, it can be adapted for use at all grade levels.
The following documents can be adapted and re-saved for your needs.
The chart helps students consider the relative importance of various components
or factors found in products, options or steps. It can be used to identify
the most important natural resources found in common household or classroom
products, the most important basic foods in a healthy diet, or the most
influential factors in the steps leading to a historical event. In completing
the chart, students identify the relevant products or options and then specify
the components found in each product or option. Objects in a classroom e.g.,
chalk, desks, pencils and pens are composed of various natural resources
including wood, oils and minerals. Similarly, the incidents leading to
Confederation e.g., Upper and Lower Canada rebellions, Fenian raids, and
American expansion in the West were influenced by factors such fear of
invasion, trade concerns, self determination and cultural dominance.
Students determine the importance of each component part by noting its frequency
as a factor; e.g., in how many pre-Confederation events was fear of invasion a
factor? And by judging the importance of the product or event to the overall
result; e.g., how important was the Rebellion in Lower Canada in the eventual
decision to unite the colonies?
To use this chart, students:
list various products, options or steps in the left-hand column; e.g., products
found in the home include sofas, tables, rugs and computers
classify all products, options or steps according to their importance, using a
three-point rating scale; e.g., 3 is very important, 2 is quite important, 1 is
list the components or factors to be considered in the top row; e.g., household
products are typically derived from natural resources such as wood, animals,
minerals and oil
check off which components or factors are present in each product or item;
e.g., desks are typically composed of minerals and wood
multiply each component or factor by the importance rating; e.g., if a desk was
judged to be quite important each of it components would be assigned two points
record the sum for each component or factor at the bottom of the corresponding
identify the component(s) or factor(s) with the highest total
complete the reflection stems at the bottom of the chart.
If desired, compile individual totals on a master chart. Invite the class to
discuss the findings.
Direct a discussion regarding the difficulty with simply using the total number
of points to determine relative importance. For example, if a high quantity of
unimportant products such as plastic ornaments were listed, the component
resource(s) of those products may have higher total(s) than something such as
water that we could not do without. Encourage students to weigh the total
points with the relative importance of the products when making their final
Assessing the Importance Ratings
An assessment rubric is available for this
Adapted from Critical Challenges Across the Curriculum series. Permission granted by The Critical Thinking Consortium for use by Alberta teachers.