Designing with Domains

4 Learning Domains of Worldwise Learning


For rich learning experiences, the heart, head, and hand of learning need to be integrated.  Last week, we discussed developing the heart of learning.  When students have a better sense of themselves and others, they may want to take action (the hand) to make a difference in their community.  Maybe they want to raise money for a charity, learn more about the vets in their town, or grow vegetables to help neighbors get healthy food.  Of course, our students will need the knowledge, skills, concepts, and dispositions to develop solutions.   The 4 Learning Domains of Worldwise Learning are the focus of this week's posts.  


The term disposition refers to the behaviors we want our students to demonstrate towards their learning and community.  Dispositions can be learned and include thinking dispositions, like imagination and metacognition.  They can also include  responsibility and fairness.  How can we help our students to see themselves as changemakers, important members of our communities? 

Conceptual Understandings

We hear a lot about conceptual understanding, but what does it really mean?  The term refers to the relationships between concepts, or generalizations.  While knowledge and skills may refer to one specific area, concepts bridge the gap and can be used across disciplines.  In short, what bigger concepts do you want your students to understand? 

Knowledge & Skills

Knowledge refers to the facts that students need to know about a topic.  Fact: Maine is in the northeast of the United States.  Skills are what your students will be able to do after instruction.  What skills would your students need to persuade someone that Maine is the best place to vacation?       

There's a common misconception that interdisciplinary education and direction instruction of knowledge and skills are opposite views.  Not true!  You NEED direct instruction to have a great interdisciplinary unit.  Imagine trying to design a garden without learning about measurement or geometry.  It would be pretty hard. 

On the flip side, we often teach knowledge and skills in ways that students can’t apply or transfer to new situations.  The wonderful thing about interdisciplinary instruction is that the skills are woven into a problem that makes sense to the students.  When that happens, students are better able to apply their learning to new problems in school and beyond!

For More Info!

When you plan for interdisciplinary instruction, you can start with any one of these domains.  Most likely, you are familiar with planning for knowledge and skills since that includes our standards.  However, you can also start with dispositions or conceptual understandings.  Check out our posts this week to learn more about each one and how to use them in your practice.

As always if you have any questions, please reach out to any of our team.  We would love to help you!


Worldwise Learning