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Pedagogical Framework

The pedagogical framework guiding curriculum development for SmartSpace@NIU integrates learning theory, learning standards, and best practices in online interaction culminating in a P-20 learning community. At the foundation is acknowledgement that successful learners integrate their creative, practical, and analytical abilities within a sociocultural context (Sternberg and Grigorenko, 2007). The pedagogical model stems from "successful intelligence" as a platform to support the learning conditions, including transformational learning, responsive assessment, and a holistic environment.

These learning conditions are designed to facilitate experiences for P-12 learners and pre-service teachers and the professional development of in-service teachers in achieving the relevant standards (21st Century Skills, National Educational Technology Standards, Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium, Social-Emotional Learning Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and Common Core State Standards).

Pedagogical Framework 

Explanation of the Diagram

Ring 1


Prepare learners and educators to think practically, creatively, and analytically.

  • These skills inform the instructional strategies and assessments used in SmartSpace@NIU.
  • Proficiencies in these areas are key to successful intelligence (Sternberg and Grigorenko, 2007).

Guide educators to facilitate instruction that promotes these skills encourages thought processes that will enable learners to develop problem solving abilities, formulate innovative hypotheses and solutions, and generate ideas and products that can influence others.

Ring 2

Responsive Assessment
Holistic Environment
Tranformational Learning

Prepare learners and educators to be immersed in transformative learning, responsive assessment, and a holistic environment.

  • Transformative Learning
    • Engage learners in experiences that are authentic and are relevant to their lives.
    • Provide opportunities for learners to construct their own knowledge and establish the ideas they value as meaningful.
    • Encourage reflective practices for continuous self-improvement, as well as the creation of meaningful connections among ideas and multiple areas of content.
  • Responsive Assessmen
    • Integrate assessments throughout the learning process to get the best indication possible of learner understanding.
    • Utilize assessments that provide immediate feedback on mastery of key concepts.
    • Customize assessments to the diverse needs of the learners.
  • Holistic Environment
    • Provide learning and facilitation opportunities that are technology-rich and will prepare educators and learners to excel in a virtual environment.
    • Allow learners to generate multiple layers of meaning and establish multidisciplinary connections with the content.
    • Engage educators and learners in a community that fosters collaboration, creativity, communication, and critical thinking (the 4 C’s).

Ring 3

Meeting the Standards

Prepare educators to meet the teacher standards they will need for success in education today.

  • National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers (NETS*T)
  • Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium Standards (INTASC)
  • Illinois Professional Teaching Standards (PTS)

Prepare learners to meet standards and acquire the skills they will need to become productive, contributing members of society and to maximize their innovative potential.

  • 21st Century Skills
  • Common Core State Standards (CCSS)
  • Illinois Social Emotional Standards (SEL)
  • National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS*S)
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

At the Core

P-20 Learning Community

Establish a P-20 Learning Community.

  • To promote the sharing of ideas and resources
  • To serve as a platform for creating meaningful relationships
  • To support multimodal communication


Sternberg, R.; Grigorenko, E. (2007). Teaching for successful intelligence: To increase student learning and achievement (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA, US: Corwin Press.