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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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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 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.

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Improving Science Education Through Three-Dimensional Learning

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