Dimensions of Learning is a comprehensive model designed by the Mid-Continent Regional Educational Laboratory in Aurora, Colorado that uses what researchers and theorists know about learning to develop dimensions of thinking.

Dimension 1: Attitudes and Perceptions

If students view the classroom as an unsafe and disorderly place, they will likely learn little there. Similarly, when they 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

When students are acquiring new skills, they must learn a set of steps, then shape the skill to make it personally efficient and effective. Finally, they must internalize or practice the skill so they can perform it easily.

Dimension 3: Extend and Refine Knowledge

Learners rigorously analyze what they have learned by applying reasoning processes to help them extend and renew information. These processes include:

  • Comparing

  • Classifying

  • Abstracting

  • Reasoning inductively and deductively • Constructing support

  • Analyzing errors and perspectives

Dimension 4: Use Knowledge Meaningfully

Ensuring students have the opportunity to use knowledge in meaningful ways is one of the most important parts of planning a unit of instruction. In the Dimensions of Learning model, tasks can be constructed around six thinking processes to encourage the meaningful use of knowledge:

  • Decision making • Problem solving • Invention

  • Investigation

  • Experimental inquiry • Systems analysis

Dimension 5: Productive Habits of Mind

The most effective learners develop powerful habits of mind that enable them to think critically and creatively to regulate their behavior appropriately and effectively.

Source: Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning