Practice Brief 85

Principals! Here’s what you can do to foster equitable three-dimensional science learning

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Why it Matters to You
  • Teachers should provide principals with resources such as this tool and this other resource to explore how best to support 3D science learning.
  • District Staff & PD Providers should dedicate time for content-specific professional development for principals, to enable them to lead the implementation of science instructional change in their buildings.
  • School Leaders should Increase their knowledge of 3D science learning and develop strategies to effectively lead the implementation of these changes in science instruction across their buildings—on their own & with others.

What is the Issue?

Principals directly influence classroom instruction, second only to teachers in impact on student achievement. However, school principals have varied content and pedagogical backgrounds and few have had learning experiences engaging in the practices of scientists and engineers to explain phenomena and solve challenging problems. Without these experiences, too few principals are effectively leading for improvement of equitable science instruction. This tool describes some steps that districts and/or individual principals can take to enable them to effectively lead the implementation of three-dimensional (3D) science learning in their schools.

Image courtesy of the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB),


By Tiffany Clark, Jennifer Eklund, Caroline Kiehle, Kim Klinke & Richard Sander | February 2022

Reflection Questions

  • As an instructional leader, what roles do you play in implementing equitable 3D science learning?
  • How prepared are you to lead implementation of 3D science learning in your school?
  • How could science learning walks help increase your knowledge of 3D science learning? How would you approach engaging in them?

Things to Consider

Attending to Equity

Recommended Actions You Can Take


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Work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 Unported License. Others may adapt with attribution. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Opinions expressed are not those of any funding agency.