Standards for 21st Century Learning: AASL vs. Australian Curriculum

AASL: Standards for 21st Century Learners

Framework and Features:

The framework of the American Association of School Library’s (AASL) Standards for 21st Century Learners (2007) (Figure: 1) has been designed to be a visually dynamic document which outlines the standards of learning in an easy to follow format. The key elements are defined through the use of colour schemes, photographs of student learners and flow charts. This makes the principles behind the document appear accessible to a wide audience; including education authorities, teaching staff, parents, students and the community.

Standards_cover_200px

Figure 1: AASL Standards for 21st Century Learners

Common Beliefs:

Before addressing the 4 overriding standards of the AASLA framework, a list of common beliefs about the nature of learning is provided within a number overarching statements. Examples of these include:

  • · Reading is a window to the world
  • · Inquiry provides frameworks for learning
  • · Ethical behaviours in the use of information must be taught…etc.

The purpose of these beliefs is to pre-empt the significance of such a document and to set the parameters for its place in an educative context.

The Standards

There are four essential standards:

1. Inquire, think critically and gain knowledge

2. Draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations and create new knowledge

3. Share knowledge and participate ethically and productively as members of our democratic society

4. Pursue personal and aesthetic growth.

These four standards are then defined by four sub categories: Skills, Disposition in Action, Responsibilities and Self Assessment Strategies.

· Skills are defined as ” Key abilities needed for understanding, learning, thinking and mastering subjects.”

· Disposition in Action is defined as ” Ongoing beliefs and attitudes that guide thinking and intellectual behaviour that can be measured through actions taken.”

· Responsibilities are defined as “Common behaviours used by independent learners in researching, investigating and problem solving.”

· Self Assessment Strategies are defined as “Reflection on one’s own learning to determine that the skills, dispositions and responsibilities are effective.”

It is within each of these sub categories of the four standards, that numerous criteria are specified as essential to fulfilling the requirement of the standard. These criteria are not defined chronologically, or ranked in sequence of difficulty; they are presented as a number of skills or action-based objectives that are not level specific. By presenting the framework in this manner, readers are left to assume that the degree to which each objective is covered is determinant upon the level of schooling the learner is at.

Another key feature of the framework is the intended audience. The sub-categories: skills, disposition in action, responsibilities and self assessment strategies, directs the benefits of the framework so that they become inclusive and directly relevant to the learner. In Strand One: Inquire, think critically and gain knowledge: skills: 1.1.1 and 1.1.2 for example:

1.1.1 Follow an inquiry-based process in seeking knowledge in curricular subjects, and make the real world connection for using this process in own life.

1.1.2 Use prior and background knowledge as context for new learning.

This is also apparent by the ‘Responsibilities’ that learners are required to address, or the skills of ‘Self -Assessment.

Australian Curriculum

Framework and Features:

The Australian Curriculum framework for standards defines both Critical and Creative Thinking (2013) ( Figure; 2) as underlying principles of learning between Foundation and year 10 levels. Critical thinking skills enable students to develop and use evidence in support of arguments , draw conclusions and solve problems using information. Creative thinking on the other hand, involves the development of new ideas or seeing existing situations in new ways, developing explanations and making new links to information that result in positive outcomes. Both critical and creative thinking requires the attainment of skills and application of progressively developed processes.

The framework follows a logical progression through information attainment and organization, to students generating their own ideas, connections and possibilities based in the information they find and use. Beyond this the ability to reflect, analyse and synthesise information are stages that are reflected in many inquiry based learning models.

Australian Curriculum standards

Figure : 2 Australian Curriculum Critical and Creative Thinking F-10

The Standards

The strands for this critical and creative framework of thinking are:

1. Inquiry- identifying, exploring and organising information and ideas

2. Generating ideas, possibilities and actions

3. Reflecting on thinking processes

4. Analysing, synthesising and evaluating reasoning and procedures.

These four standards are then defined by three sub-categories:

1. Inquiry- identifying, exploring and organising information and ideas:

i) Pose Questions

ii) Identify and clarify information and ideas

iii) Organise and process ideas

2. Generating ideas, possibilities and actions:

iv) Imagine Possibilities

v) Consider alternatives

vi) Seek solutions and put ideas into action

3. Reflecting on thinking and processes

vii) Thinking about thinking

viii) Reflect on processes

ix) Transfer knowledge into new contexts

4. Analysing, synthesising and evaluating reasoning and procedures.

x) Apply logic and reasoning

xi) Draw conclusions and design an course of action

xii) Evaluate procedures and outcomes.

These sub categories define the difference between the Australian Curriculum and AALS frameworks for learning standards. The Australian frame work establishes year level junctures in which the development of skills occur through an increase complexity and cognitive development. For example:

Level 1- Typically by the end of Foundation Year, students:

Level 2- Typically by the end of Year 2, students:

Level 3- Typically by the end of Year 3, students:

Level 4- Typically by the end of Year 4, students:

Inquiry- identifying, exploring and organising information and ideas:

Pose questions

Pose factual and exploratory questions based on personal interests and experiences

Pose questions

Pose questions to identify and clarify issues, and compare information in their world

Pose questions

Pose questions to expand their knowledge about the world

Pose questions

Poe questions to clarify and interpret information and probe for causes and consequences

The Australian Curriculum Framework is written from an authoritative perspective. This is apparent from the structure, layout and perspective of the document as well as the use of third person references to learners. It is clearly intended for use by educators.

Cited:

AASL (2007) Standards for 21st Century learners. available at: http://www.ala.org/aasl/standards-guidelines/learning-standards

Australian Curriculum (2013) Critical and Creative Thinking F-10 Available at: http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/GeneralCapabilities/Critical-and-creative-thinking/Continuum#page=2

Header image: Standards [image] available from http://education101intrototeaching.pbworks.com/w/page/10105614/The%201990s%3A%20%20National%20Goals,%20National%20Standards,%20and%20Choice

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