A Visual Representation of Three Dimensional Learning: A Model for Understanding the Power of the Framework and the NGSS

Ana K. Houseal


A Framework for K-12 Science Education [the Framework] (NRC, 2012) and the resulting Next Generation Science Standards [NGSS] (NGSS Lead States, 2013) are based upon current research about teaching and learning science. Thus, they provide a structure that science classrooms can use to change from places where students learn about science to places were students “do” science. This “doing” of science resides in the effective blending of the three dimensions, the Disciplinary Core Ideas, Crosscutting Concepts, and Scientific and Engineering Practices, within instructional design and practice. It is critical that while K-12 educators and administrators are working on understanding three-dimensional science learning, that tools are developed to help with this process. This is one such tool. This conceptual visual model is presented as an explanatory tool to demonstrate the power of the Framework and the NGSS to varied audiences, including K-12 teachers and administrators, community members, legislators, school board members, and university academics. Beginning with the known, by using specific examples from the NGSS and traditional school-science culture, the article provides examples of the dimensions singularly, in tandem, and finally all together. Understanding how the three dimensions interact is a critical first step for schools, districts, and states considering the Framework and NGSS for full or partial adoption, as it helps to illuminate where we are coming from and where we need to go.


NGSS, Three Dimensional Learning, Framework, Science Teacher Professional Development

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