3-Dimensional Learning is at the heart of the Next Generation Science Standards. It represents a move away from memorization of unrelated facts toward a more student-driven approach to learning.
The NGSS also emphasizes the connection between concepts in a whole new way. These standards do away with arbitrary borders between disciplines and allow students to learn to think like scientists. It is a move away from the highly specialized model that we are used to.
In my own shift toward 3-dimensional learning in my classroom, my role as the classroom teacher has also changed significantly. As I become more proficient in implementing the NGSS, I have spent far less time instructing and much more time facilitating student learning, discussion and investigation.
I will spend more time on the concept of three dimensional learning in upcoming posts. This post is just a general overview.
What are the three dimensions?
Disciplinary Core Ideas
The disciplinary core ideas represent what a student should know by the time that they complete a unit or course. The disciplinary core ideas most closely resemble the “old standards” because they contain facts and concepts that are an essential in understanding the four main disciplines of the Next Generation Science Standards. These disciplines are:
- Earth and Space Science
- Life Science
- Physical Science
Science and Engineering Practices
The Science and Engineering Practices should help lead students in developing their own understanding of the Disciplinary Core Ideas and Crosscutting Concepts.
- Asking questions and defining problems
- Developing and using models
- Planning and carrying out investigations
- Analyzing and interpreting data
- Using mathematical models and computational thinking
- Constructing explanations and designing solutions
- Engaging in argument from evidence
- Obtaining, evaluation and communicating information
Each practice has a detailed explanations for how the practices should be used in each grade band (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12). Those can be accessed here.
The crosscutting concepts are a list of thematic concepts that repeat throughout science, regardless of discipline.
The Crosscutting Concepts are:
- Cause and effect
- Scale, proportion and quantify
- Systems and system models
- Energy and Matter
- Structure and Function
- Stability and Change
As with the Science and Engineering Practices, the framework includes a explanation of the progression across grade levels. These explanations can be accessed here.
How do the performance expectations relate to 3-dimensional learning?
The performance expectations explain how a student will demonstrate their understanding of a concept. These performance expectations are themselves three dimensional. For example, students may be asked to develop and use a model to describe a disciplinary core idea or create an argument based on empirical evidence.
These performance expectations are a great place to start when creating assessments for a lesson or unit.
These three components should not be taught in isolation in an NGSS classroom. Students should use each dimension as a tool to strengthen their skill and understanding of the other two dimensions.