There are five performance standards for Applied Learning:
Communication Tools and
Information Tools and
Learning and Self-management
Tools and Techniques;
Tools and Techniques for
Working with Others.
Apply problem-solving strategies in purposeful ways, both in situations
where the problem and desirable solutions are clearly evident and in situations
requiring a creative approach to achieve an outcome.
Problem solving is the centerpiece of the standards. The performance description
defines problem solving projects focused on productive activity and organized
around three kinds of problems:
Problems to do with designing new things to meet identified
Problems to do with making existing things work more effectively.
Problems to do with planning and organizing events and activities.
Many of the problems that people tackle in their everyday life can be
categorized into one of these three kinds of problems. The three kinds
of problems are the same for elementary school, middle school, and high
school. The performance description defines them as follows.
Design a product, service or system in which the student identifies needs
that could be met by a new product, service or system and creates solutions
for meeting them;
Improve a system in which the student develops
an understanding of the way systems of people, machines and processes
work; troubleshoots problems in their operation and devises strategies
for making them work better;
Plan and organize an event or activity in which the student takes
responsibility for all aspects of planning and organizing an event or
activity from concept to completion.
Each kind of problem solving is followed by a set of criteria, or elements,
that reflect the kinds of considerations that need to be taken into account
in working towards an effective solution to that kind of problem. These
criteria become progressively more demanding from elementary school to
The Tools and Techniques Standards
The four tools and techniques standards are designed to work
in concert with the Problem Solving standard. Each of these standards
describes tools and techniques that are needed for success in tackling
problems of the kinds outlined above. The capacities defined by these
standards are difficult to pin down. They can take many forms and be evidenced
in many different ways. Sometimes they are described in terms of general
dispositions that render them difficult to assess in any credible way.
In an effort to give these capacities more concrete meaning, each of the
tools and techniques standards focuses on a selection of the ways by which
people demonstrate use of the relevant tools and techniques. As far as
possible, each of the selected uses of the tools and techniques is described
in terms of a work product or performance through which students can provide
evidence of their achievement.
Tools and Techniques
Communicate information and ideas in ways that are appropriate to the
purpose and audience through spoken, written and graphic means of expression.
This standard has three parts, each focusing on a different kind of communication.
focuses on the ability to make an oral presentation about project plans
or findings. The expectations for this part of the standard grow in complexity
from elementary to high school, especially with respect to the kind of
audience with whom students should be able to communicate effectively.
There is some overlap between a
of the Language Arts performance standards, which also asks for an oral
presentation. The difference between them is the specification of audience
focus in a.
Thus, oral presentations that meet the requirements of a
would usually satisfy the expectations of c;
however, the reverse would not necessarily be the case.
focuses on effective written communication. In this part of the Communication
Tool and Techniques standards the expectations grow in demand from the
production of simple correspondence at the elementary school level to
the writing of project proposals and reports at the high school level.
It is worth noting that proposals and reports may take different forms
according to their context. The report produced for the Caring for Your
Campus Lawn project, for example, is in the form of a memorandum.
focuses on communicating effectively in different kinds of formats. At
the elementary school level the focus is on posters, pamphlets and brochures.
At the middle school level, the focus is on publishing information in
several different formats, such as overhead transparencies and handouts.
At the high school level, this part of the standard asks for a multi-media
Tools and Techniques
Use information-gathering techniques, analyze and evaluate information,
and use information technology to assist in collecting, analyzing, organizing,
and presenting information.
This standard has two facets: information gathering and use of information
focuses on information gathering. This part of the Information Tools and
Techniques standard can be summarized by the word research.
It can also be distinguished among all the parts of the tools and techniques
standards as an essential tool and technique for virtually any problem-solving
endeavor. The performance description for this part of the standard is
also notable for being almost the same at all three levels (elementary,
middle, and high). The only difference is an expectation for more evidence
of analysis of information at the middle and high school levels compared
with elementary school.
focuses on the use of information technology. In recognition of the differences
between schools in students access to the tools of information technology,
this part of the Information Tools and Techniques standard is described
broadly at the elementary and middle school levels in terms of two expectations.
These are that students use information technology to acquire information
and to produce materials. At the high school level, these expectations
are detailed more specifically. At this level, use of information technology
is divided into four parts each focused on the use of different kinds
of tools: use of on-line sources to gather and exchange information, use
of word-processing software, use of database software, and use of spreadsheet
Learning and Self-management Tools and Techniques
Manage and direct ones own learning.
This standard focuses on a crucial part of the capabilities people need
to be productive members of society. There are many tools and techniques
that contribute to the ability to manage and direct ones own learning.
This standard focuses on three of them: learning from models, managing
ones own work activities, and evaluating ones own work.
is about the practice of tackling new tasks by first searching out models
from which to work. Depending on the task, a model might be a person or
a thing. An experienced person can provide a model for developing
ones own effective practice. A brochure produced for a different
but related purpose can provide a model from which to develop a brochure
to suit ones own purpose. Using models is an important tool for
developing the capacity to manage and direct ones own learningand
work. It possibly ranks with a
as an essential tool and technique for an effective problem-solving endeavor.
The description of this part of the Learning and Self-management Tool
and Techniques standard is the same at each of the three levels. The criteria
focus on selection of an appropriate model, analysis of its features and
qualities, and use of that information to perform the relevant task.
is about managing ones work activities. At the elementary level
this part of the standard focuses on establishing ways of organizing work
materials in a manner that helps to get the work done. At the middle school
level, the focus shifts to scheduling and establishing priorities and
deadlines. This focus intensifies at the high school level to concentrate
on adjusting priorities and schedules to meet changing demands.
is about taking responsibility for the evaluation of ones own work.
At the core of this part of the standard is the idea of treating evaluation
of ones work as an essential and ongoing part of getting the work
done. At the elementary level, the focus is on students establishing
and using criteria to evaluate the results of their work. At the middle
school, the focus shifts to goal setting and the review of progress in
meeting goals. At the high school level, the demands expand to include
the expectation of students inviting and responding to advice and
criticism of their work by others.
and Techniques for Working With Others
Work with others to achieve a shared goal, help other people to learn
on-the-job, and respond effectively to the needs of a client.
Working with others covers a broad spectrum of activities. This standard
focuses on three ways of viewing the demands of working effectively with
other people: working on a team, attending to the learning needs of another
person, and striving to meet the needs of a client for ones work.
is about teamwork. The elements of this part of the standard are similar
at each level from elementary to high school, though the demands grow
focuses on helping other people learn. At the elementary level this is
expressed in terms of showing or explaining something clearly enough for
someone else to be able to do it. There is an obvious link here to the
expectations for the narrative procedure (d)
among the kinds of writing expected in the Language Arts performance standards.
This is one of the ways that students can use to demonstrate their achievement
At the middle school level, the focus is on coaching and tutoring. At
the high school level, the emphasis is on providing the training and mentoring
needed to help someone else join an ongoing work activity.
focuses on responding effectively to the needs of a client. The essence
of this part of the standard is negotiationfrom the clients
commissioning of a piece of work to an assessment of what can be achieved
to the production of the outcome and the extent to which it satisfies
the clients initial request. Like the teamwork part of Working With
Others, the description of this part of the standard is essentially the
same from elementary to high school though the expectations for monitoring
client satisfaction with progress and results grow in demand across the
Applied Learning Projects: How the Applied
Learning Standards fit together
The key to the effective use of the tools and techniques described in
is the capacity to harness them in a purposeful and integrated way in
order to complete a meaningful task. And that is also the way they are
best learned rather than taken out of context and treated in a piecemeal
way as skills for their own sake. Applied Learning projects are the vehicle
for helping students develop the kinds of abilities that are expected
by the Applied Learning standards and for demonstrating their achievements.
An Applied Learning project starts with a problem to be solved. The problem
might arise spontaneously from questions or interests expressed by the
students or it might emerge from an activity planned by the teacher.
The kind of problem determines which part of the Problem Solving standard
is relevant to the project. Some problems have characteristics of more
than one of the kinds of problem solving but it is usually both possible
and more helpful to focus attention on one kind of problem solving in
working on a particular project.
Inherent in the problem is a content focus and thus an opportunity for
students to learn important subject content and/or to apply what they
already know and reinforce their knowledge. Many projects contain the
opportunity to work towards the achievement of expectations relevant to
the Language Arts performance standards. Applied Learning projects can
also relate to important content in Science, Mathematics, Social Studies
and the Arts and Technology.
Solving the problem is likely to demand some of the tools and techniques
of communication, information, learning and self-management and working
with others that are set out in the Tools and Techniques standards. Many
problems offer the possibility of drawing on all of those tools and techniques.
However, it is unlikely that any one project will allow students to develop
their abilities in relation to all of the tools and techniques, let alone
allow them to demonstrate their achievement of them all. In projects that
lead to stronger products in student achievement, learning focuses on
the abilities related to one of the kinds of problem solving and a limited
selection of the tools and techniques. The teacher can make this selection
from the outset, taking into account the possibilities presented by the
project focus and the students previous experience and accomplishments.
Over time, students should have the opportunity to develop and demonstrate
their abilities in relation to all of the Applied Learning standards.