4D Competencies Framework

CCR’s 4D, or 4-Dimensional, Framework is so named to reflect that today’s students must develop in four dimensions – Knowledge, Skills, Character, and Meta-Learning – to serve themselves and society to the most fulfilling extent possible. Infusing knowledge instruction with the other three dimensions is the core principle of a 4D Education. But how is that done? By breaking these three dimensions into a framework of competencies and subcompetencies, instructors have the details to make their lessons more effective, focused, logical, and relevant.  

Rev. 1.2 – January 2024

Published in 2019, the initial framework utilized CCR’s learning-sciences-based process. Stability has been a goal in its deployment, but our “Education Engineering” mindset recognizes that periodic review and revision is necessary to ensure that the education field keeps pace in a changing world. There are several updates embodied in Version 1.2. At a high-level they are:

  • Increased emphasis on learners’ personalization via Motivation, Identity, Agency, and Purpose
  • Mindfulness (aka metaemotion) and metacognition have been merged into the Meta-learning Dimension, functioning as a single competency
  • Some competencies and subcompetencies have been combined and relocated allowing for a more compact framework of just ten competencies and fifty subcompetencies
A chart of the Center for Curriculum Redesign's Competency/Subcompetency Framework, revision 1.2. It is broken into three dimensions: Skills, Character, and Meta-Learning. Each of those are broken into Competencies, and those are further divided into subcompetencies and associated constructs. For example, Skills include Creativity and Critical Thinking and Character includes Curiosity and Courage. Provide your email below to receive the full Framework as an Excel file.
Please provide your email address to download the 4D Competencies Framework as an Excel spreadsheet and to be kept informed of revisions.
Attribution to CCR is mandatory for your free use of the 4D Competencies Framework: Center for Curriculum Redesign. (2024, January). 4D Competencies Framework. Center for Curriculum Redesign. https://curriculumredesign.org/our-work/4d-competencies-framework

Competencies’ Emphasis

CCR’s AI-related analysis completed while researching and writing Education for the Age of AI lead to the determination that one needs to be more specific about the attribute to emphasize when teaching each competency. The emphasis and their justification is listed in the table below:

A table of Competency and Emphasis pairs. The Rows are grouped into Skills, Character, and Meta-Learning. The Skills competency/emphasis pairs are Creativity & Imagination, Critical Thinking & Decision-Making, Communication & Dialogue, and Collaboration & Leadership. The Character competency/emphasis pairs are Curiosity & Open-Mindedness, Courage & Risk-Taking, Resilience & Resourcefulness, and Ethics & Fairness. In Meta-Learning, Metacognition and Metaemotion are paired with Adaptability.CCR insists on the key role of Metacognition and Metaemotion’s emphasis of adaptability for an AI world. Human adaptability involves the capacity to deal with a number of different sources of data and modes of reasoning that AI cannot muster yet. Human decision-making is also deeply intertwined with emotions and social understandings, areas where AI currently lacks proficiency.

How will this emphasis be used?

Each competency has been cross-referenced with disciplines, to ensure that:

  • The discipline is conducive to developing the competency.
  • Teachers are not overwhelmed by having to deal with all of the competencies, and can rely on their colleagues from other disciplines to get the full complement. Teachers can focus on the top 3-4 consistently, the others occasionally as the opportunity arises.

The emphasis of a competency describes the extra attention, or “accentuation,” that is given while the competency is taught; for instance:

  • For Creativity: If AI can generate a lot of impressive “me too” ideas via extrapolations and analogizing, then the emphasis should be for students to pay attention to Imagination, which is harder for AI to achieve.
  • For Critical thinking: If AI can generate seemingly plausible answers, knowing how to ask questions and evaluate answers matters all the more, with an eye toward decision-making. This is analogous to, and a generalization of, Conrad Wolfram’s TED talk exhortation about Mathematics to focus on posing the right problem and understanding its results, while automating the rote computation in between via software. In this case, the LLM is the “language-based computer.” 

Framework Crosswalks (based on Framework 1.0)

CCR has, over the years, completed a crosswalk analysis of its framework against more than a hundred others. Below is a sample of the crosswalks: