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Learning and Facilitation Frameworks

Learning and Facilitation Frameworks

Dimensions of Learning



Spending time in Tinkering activitiesLearners:  
  • play, envision, make, explore materials, try something over and over, etc.
Displaying motivation or investment through affect or behaviorLearners:  
  • show emotions such as joy, pride, disappointment, frustration
  • remain after they appear “finished,” and start something new


Initiative and Intentionality

Setting one’s own goalsLearners:  
  • set goals / pose problems
  • plan steps for future action
  • develop unique strategies, tools, objects or outcomes
  • state intention to continue working outside Studio
Seeking and responding to feedbackLearners:  
  • actively seek out feedback or inspiration from materials/environment
  • anticipate further outcomes
  • innovate approaches in response to feedback
Persisting to achieve goals in the problem space*Learners:  
  • persist toward their goal in the face of setbacks or frustration within the problem space
  • persist to optimize strategies or solutions
Taking intellectual risks or showing intellectual courageLearners:  
  • disagree with each other's strategies, solutions, or rationales
  • try something while indicating lack of confidence in outcome


*A problem space is a collection of questions, problems, materials, and solutions associated with trying to make something happen within the framework of the activity. For example, trying to keep a marble from falling off a track would be working within a problem space in Marble Machines. Distinguish between PS and just being in the TS.  


Social Scaffolding

Requesting or offering help in solving problemsLearners in the role of novices or experts:  
  • request or offer ideas and approaches
  • offer tool(s) or materials in service of an idea
Inspiring new ideas or approachesLearners:  
  • notice, point out, or talk about others’ work
  • innovate and remix by using or modifying others' ideas or strategies
  • leave something of their work behind to share with others
Physically connecting to others’ worksLearners produce work that physically interacts with other learners' work


Development of Understanding

Expressing a realization through affect or utterancesLearners:  
  • show excitement when expressing a realization
  • claim to realize or newly make sense of something
Offering explanation(s) for a strategy, tool or outcomeLearners offer or refine explanation(s) for a strategy, tool or outcome, possibly by testing and retesting
Applying knowledgeLearners:  
  • connect to prior knowledge, including STEM concepts
  • employ what they have learned during their explorations
  • complexify by engaging in increasingly complicated and sophisticated work
Striving to understandLearners indicate not knowing (e.g., through surprise, bewilderment, confusion) and remain in the problem space to explore their confusion and build an understanding


Facilitation Moves


Facilitation MoveDescriptions of facilitator’s interactions
Spark initial interest and participation through demonstrations, modeling, parallel play, or questions
  • Uses demonstrations, modeling, parallel play and/or questions to help learners take up materials and begin
  • Establishes safe physical and psychological (non-judgmental and reciprocal) context for participation
Sustain participation through frustration, distraction, or boredom through introduction of new tools, approaches, or analyses
  • Provides new tools or ideas to scaffold learners through frustrating moments
  • Welcomes and works with learners' ideas and progress, including “mistakes” or wrong directions
  • Works with learners' ideas and creations to re-engage them as their interests and attention wane
  • “Re-voices” learners' ideas and choices in ways that others can understand and that might connect to everyday world, prior interests and experiences
Deepen understanding and commitment through complexification of concepts and making connections to learners’ interests
  • Helps to complexify the work through new ideas or tools, including making connections or analogs with prior experiences, everyday life and scientific practices
  • Uses questions, actions, or comments to encourage learners to talk about, share, reflect on, and develop their ideas

Please note that these two frameworks should be viewed as tools for discussion rather than rigorous schemes for coding behavior. To download a PDF version of the Learning Dimensions and our Facilitation Field Guide, click below.