What is "Dimensions of Learning" and how is it used at Central Queensland University and schools?

On this website, "Dimensions of Learning" (DoL) has been adapted for Classroom use (Instructional Design and Delivery) from the body of research generated by the McRel group. McRel is one of 10 education laboratories funded by US Federal Government. This research centre is renowned for its work on teachers' pedagogy.

Dimensions of Learning is a comprehensive framework or model to help educators plan learning experiences for their students. It is based on extensive research about learning and how the mind works. It has been designed to help educators improve students' learning through planning curriculum, instruction and assessment using five critical aspects of the learning process, or dimensions of learning.

The Five Dimensions of Learning

Diagram by D.Lynch


How can Dimensions of Learning be used by educators?

The goal of education is to enhance learning for all students. Educators continually seek to improve teaching. Over the last 15 years the McRel Group (www.mcrel.org or www.mcrel.com) have conducted substantial research on teaching and learning and how the brain functions. They have drawn this and other research in the development of 5 key dimensions, the Dimensions of Learning, that underpin good teaching. It affirms and extends what effective educators already do. In many schools the DoL framework has been embedded within curriculum development and classroom practice. Schools implementing this approach are finding that it improves teacher capability, improves curriculum development, classroom organisation and pedagogy and leads to improved student outcomes

DoL within CQU's Bachelor of Learning Management (BLM) - Video Clips

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Video of Professor Richard Smith, Dean of Faculty of Creative Arts and Education, CQU, providing a rationale for CQU use of Dimensions of Learning

Video of Tina Doe, Lecturer and BLM program coordinator, CQU Noosa Hub, Team Leader Professional Learning Project (Dimensions of Learning) talking about Dimensions of Learning


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Stories of Practice - Video Clips (Media player plugin needed)

Mr David Turner, Principal, Kenilworth State Community College

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School administrators

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Trish Gray (Deputy Principal), Tewantin State School
Kathy Bauer (Learning Manager) and Judy Menary (Principal), Buddina State School


BLM students, and BLM student with supervising mentor teacher

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Guy Littler (BLM student) and Terry O'Brien (Supervising Mentor teacher), Sunshine Beach State School
Samantha Augustine (BLM student) and Vanessa Stevens (Supervising Mentor teacher), Tewantin State School

All schools in Sunshine Coast Region, Queensland, Australia.


Resources to support Introduction to Dimensions of Learning

Brief summary of Dimensions of Learning (word file)

Slide show: Introduction to Bachelor of Learning Management at CQU and Dimensions of Learning

Slide show: What is learning?

Defining Dimensions of Learning using a concept map (slide)

Planning and reflections on an Early Childhood unit using Dol Planning by Chris Curtain, Kenilworth State Community College

Marzano, R.J., Gaddy, B.G. & Dean, C. (2000) What works in classroom instruction, available www.mcrel.org - summary by Trish Becker.


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The Five Dimensions of Learning essential to successful learning are:

These affect the student's ability to learn. A learner needs to
- be in a safe, caring and well-organised environment
- have a positive attitude towards learning
- enjoy the learning process and class interactions.


To acquire and integrate new knowledge (declarative knowledge) learners need to - build on what they already know - be able to organise information - find strategies to make new knowledge part of long term memory. To learn new skills and processes (procedural knowledge) students need to
- learn a model (set of steps)
- shape the skill or process so that it is effective for them
- internalise the new practice so they can perform it easily.

Once new knowledge has been acquired and integrated, students need to develop in-depth understandings by extending and refining their knowledge. This is done through deeper consideration of the knowledge by
- analysis that involves application of more complex reasoning processes (higher order thinking) or
- transforming the knowledge into another from, for example metaphoric expression through visual arts, theatre/drama or poetry.


Learners will more effectively internalise knowledge when they are able to use it to perform a meaningful task.This may be
- something in real life that uses the new skills, or
- a life-like opportunity so that students can practice their new knowledge and skills in a safe environment.

Dimension 5: Habits of Mind

There are three habits of mind that support effective learning. These are: - critical thinking
- creative thinking
- self-regulated thinking

The Relationship between the five Dimensions of Learning

A student's attitudes and perceptions (Dimension 1) and productive habits of mind (Dimension 5) are the foundations for acquiring, integrating, extending and refining and applying knowledge. (Dimensions 2,3,4).

Effective teachers continually move between many of the dimensions during lessons and other classroom interactions. The dimensions are interrelated and interconnected and should not be considered alone.

Diagram www.mcrel.org


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