Dimensions of Learning

What is Dimension of Learning?

Dimensions of Learning is a comprehensive model that uses what researchers and theorists know about learning to define the learning process. Its premise is that five types of thinking – what we call the five dimensions of learning- are essential to successful learning. The Dimensions Framework will help you to

  • Maintain a focus on learning;
  • Study the learning process; and
  • Plan curriculum, instruction, and assessment that take into account the five critical aspects of learning.

Now let’s take a look at the five dimensions of learning.

Dimension 1: Attitudes and Perceptions

Attitudes and perceptions affect students’ abilities to learn. For example, if students view the classroom as an unsafe and disorderly place, they will likely learn little there. Similarly, if students have negative attitudes about classroom tasks, they will probably put little effort into those tasks. A key element of effective instruction, then, is helping students to establish positive attitudes and perceptions about the classroom and about learning.

Dimension 2: Acquire and Integrate Knowledge

Helping students acquire and integrate new knowledge is another important aspect of learning. When students are learning new information, they must be guided in relating the new knowledge to what they already know, organising that information, and then making it part of their long-term memory. When students are acquiring new skills and processes, they must learn a model (or set of steps), then shape the skill or process to make it efficient and effective for them, and finally, internalise or practice the skill or process so they can perform it easily.

Dimension 3: Extend and Refine Knowledge

Learning does not stop with acquiring and integrating knowledge. Learners develop in-depth understanding through the process of extending and refining their knowledge (e.g., by making new distinctions, clearing up misconceptions, and reaching conclusions). They rigorously analyse what they have learned by applying reasoning processes that will help them extend and refine the information. Some of the common reasoning processes used by learners to extend and refine their knowledge are the following:

  • Comparing
  • Classifying
  • Abstracting
  • Inductive reasoning
  • Deductive reasoning
  • Constructing support
  • Analysing errors
  • Analysing perspectives

Dimension 4: Use Knowledge Meaningfully

The most effective learning occurs when we use knowledge to perform meaningful tasks. For example, we might initially learn about tennis rackets by talking to a friend or reading a magazine article about them. We really learn about them, however, when we are trying to decide what kind of tennis racket to buy. Making sure that students have the opportunity to use knowledge meaningfully is one of the most important parts of planning a unit of instruction. In the Dimension of Learning model, there are six reasoning processes around which tasks can be constructed to encourage the meaningful use of knowledge:

  • Decision making
  • Problem solving
  • Invention
  • Experimental inquiry
  • Investigation
  • Systems analysis

Dimension 5: Habits of Mind

The most effective learners have developed powerful habits of mind that enable them to think critically, think creatively, and regulate their behaviour. These mental habits are listed below:

Critical thinking:

  • Be accurate and seek accuracy
  • Be clear and seek clarity
  • Maintain an open mind
  • Restrain impulsivity
  • Take a position when the situation warrants it
  • Respond appropriately to others’ feelings and level of knowledge

Creative thinking:

  • Persevere
  • Push the limits of your knowledge and abilities
  • Generate, trust, and maintain your own standards of evaluation
  • Generate new ways of viewing a situation that are outside the boundaries of standard conventions

Self-regulated thinking:

  • Monitor your own thinking
  • Plan appropriately
  • Identify and use necessary resources
  • Respond appropriately to feedback
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of your actions