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Improving Science Education Through Three-Dimensional Learning

Three Dimensions of Science Learning

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Improving Science Education Through Three-Dimensional Learning
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) recognize and emphasize the importance of three main dimensions for learning science. These dimensions are essential components in forming each standard—or performance expectation. When taken together, they allow students a chance to gain a more cohesive understanding of science concepts as they progress through their courses.
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) recognize and emphasize the importance of three main dimensions for learning science. These dimensions are essential components in forming each standard—or performance expectation. When taken together, they allow students a chance to gain a more cohesive understanding of science concepts as they progress through their courses.

NGSS

The National Research Council's (NRC) Framework examines the notion of competence in science, which is conceptualized as a combination of knowledge, model and theory building, and evidence-based assessment. It offers three essential dimensions for each standard – knowledge, process skills, and crosscutting concepts and practices. Collectively, these three dimensions help to form proficiency in the field of science.

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Science and Engineering Practices allow students to explore, analyze, and explain the natural world. The practices enable learners to demonstrate cognitive, social, and physical skills as they create meaningful connections between core ideas and crosscutting concepts. These skills provide insight into what scientists do to investigate and what engineers do to design systems. Engaging in the practices allows students to develop and enhance their understanding of their subject material while building key competencies.

Crosscutting Concepts allow students to explore the commonalities across different scientific domains, such as Physical Science, Life Science, Earth and Space Science, and Engineering Design. By being explicit about concepts like “cause and effect” for students, they can develop a logical and scientifically-informed understanding of the world.

Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs) are a significant part of science education and play an important role in aiding student learning. DCIs have relevance across multiple scientific or engineering disciplines and grow more complex as students progress through grade levels. DCIs consists of four core domains: Physical Science, Life Science, Earth and Space Science, and Engineering.

The National Research Council's Framework is an ongoing project that defines how proficiency in science can be achieved. The framework emphasizes both the scientific body of knowledge and the evidence-based model and theory-building process, which are combined to create each standard. Specifically, it showcases three dimensions:

Science is an essential tool for solving the greatest problems of our life time and understanding the world around us.

Science is an essential tool for solving the greatest problems of our life time and understanding the world around us.

Space Systems: Patterns and Cycles
Waves: Light and Sound
Earth’s Systems: Processes that Shape the Earth
Inheritance and Variation of Traits: Life Cycles and Traits
Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems: Environmental Impacts on Organisms
Earth's Systems: Processes that Shape the Earth
Structure, Function, and Information Processing
Waves: Waves & Information
Matter and Energy in Organisms and Ecosystems
Space Systems: Stars and the Solar System
Structure and Properties of Matter
Chemical Reactions

At the start of the NGSS creation process, the writers sought to make sure there was no overlap between DCIs identified in The Framework for K-12 Science Education. As such, a structure was developed wherein DCIs would be grouped together into topics and then used to form the standards. This initial approach is favored by many states, as it's coding system reflects that of the Framework itself. Thus, through this structure they were able to eliminate potential instances of redundancy while also establishing appropriate grain size among performance expectations.

Topic Arrangement by NGSS

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