4D Framework and Competencies

The Center for Curriculum Redesign’s 4D, or 4-Dimensional, Framework is so named because we believe today’s students must develop in four dimensions (4D) – Knowledge, Skills, Character, and Meta-Learning – to serve themselves and society to the most fulfilling extent possible.

Of the four dimensions, traditional education pays the most attention to Knowledge, with content like mathematics, reading, and writing. But in the age of artificial intelligence and with a world of information at your fingertips, Knowledge is no longer enough. And although attention is being paid to Skills and Character, teaching any dimension in isolation limits its value.

However, when teachers dynamically infuse Skills, Character, and Meta-Learning into a modernized approach for Knowledge instruction (through CCR’s Ten Cross-Cutting Competencies and 50 Subcompetencies), learners are better able to transfer what they’ve learned to new contexts and to apply those principles outside that discipline.

CCR’s 4D Framework Venn diagram of Knowledge, Skills, and Character overlapping, with Meta-Learning surrounding all three and the learner in the center. An arrow with purpose, agency, and identity moving through motivation points to the right.

But how is that done? By breaking these three dimensions into Competencies and then further into Subcompetencies, instructors have the details to make their lessons more effective, focused, logical, and relevant.

The 4D Competencies and Subcompetencies (+) are:





How we use what we know


including related ideas such as            

imaginativeness | imagination | ingenuity


CRE1: Developing personal tastes, aesthetics, and style
CRE2: Generating and seeking new ideas
CRE3: Being comfortable with risks, uncertainty, and failure
CRE4: Connecting, reorganizing, and refining ideas into a cohesive whole
CRE5: Realizing ideas while recognizing constraints

Critical Thinking

including related ideas such as              

problem-solving | analysis | reasoning


CRI1: Identifying, clarifying, and organizing information
CRI2: Assessing validity and quality of information
CRI3: Weighing pros and cons of alternative choices
CRI4: Applying sound reasoning to decision-making
CRI5: Reflecting critically on one’s own reasoning and assumptions


including related ideas such as            

dialogue | listening | speaking


COM1: Asking questions and actively listening
COM2: Sharing one’s vision and inspiring others
COM3: Clearly and concisely articulating ideas or messages
COM4: Communicating with fidelity across distinct modes and mediums
COM5: Adapting messages according to audience


including related ideas such as            

cooperation | teamwork | group cohesion


COL1: Taking and sharing responsibility with others
COL2: Optimizing team resources and unique skills and perspectives of individuals
COL3: Navigating and resolving interpersonal conflict
COL4: Giving and receiving constructive feedback
COL5: Actively supporting and showing compassion for team members


How we behave and engage in the world


including related ideas such as                

open-mindedness | wonder | exploration


CUR1: Seeking to understand deeply
CUR2: Surveying opportunities and exploring novel experiences
CUR3: Seeking different perspectives to broaden understanding
CUR4: Envisioning and prioritizing one’s interests and passions
CUR5: Finding joy in learning and being a lifelong learner


including related ideas such as              

bravery | confidence | risk-taking


COU1: Pursuing ambitious goals despite risks
COU2: Leading with initiative and accountability
COU3: Engaging with others in a vulnerable way
COU4: Acknowledging one’s strengths and weaknesses
COU5: Believing in one’s agency and self-efficacy


including related ideas such as               

perseverance | grit | persistence


RES1: Persevering through challenges and seeking help when needed
RES2: Building strong social networks
RES3: Establishing and maintaining effective habits
RES4: Managing stress to maintain performance
RES5: Motivating oneself via meaning or purpose


including related ideas such as            

integrity | fairness | virtue


ETH1: Identifying and describing ethical concepts, rights, and responsibilities
ETH2: Making ethical decisions and standing up for the rights of others
ETH3: Understanding and showing compassion for the perspectives of others
ETH4: Recognizing and implementing one’s moral code
ETH5: Contributing to the broader group or community


Learning how to learn

Metacognition & Metaemotion

including related ideas such as               

thinking about thinking | self-reflection


MET1: Adapting flexibly to meet each situation’s specific needs
MET2: Reflecting on processes, learning, and identity
MET3: Understanding one’s emotions and reactions
MET4: Being mindful of one’s body and its needs
MET5: Determining goals, plans to achieve those goals, and reviewing one’s progress
MET6: Monitoring comprehension and managing information accordingly
MET7: Evaluating one’s actions and their consequences
MET8: Considering other points of view
MET9: Recognizing, engaging, and empathizing with the emotions of others
MET10: Cultivating positivity, patience, and compassion

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