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[Research] Calvert Learning Design and Research Base

[Research] Calvert Learning Design and Research Base

Edmentum is committed to providing research-based curricula and assessments that promote student success everywhere learning occurs. Calvert Learning, Edmentum’s K–5 fully accredited digital curricula, provides a project-based learning experience that guides teaching and learning. In this post, we will provide a summary of the learning design that makes Calvert Learning so effective. For a more detailed overview of these principles, see the complete Calvert Digital Learning Design and Research Base white paper.


The Calvert Learning Framework

Calvert Learning is designed based on the principles outlined in the National Research Council publication, How People Learn. Calvert Learning uses the PLUS framework to deliver high-quality curriculum that embodies the three core learning principles and four classroom design elements outlined in the book. Calvert Learning’s own PLUS framework consists of four elements:

  • Project
  • Learn
  • Use
  • Show


The Research Behind Calvert Learning

Calvert Learning curriculum brings the PLUS framework to life through principles of learning design examined in the work of John Hattie. Calvert Learning’s learning design is inspired by the high-impact instructional practices identified by Hattie: explicit instruction, active learning, project-based learning, scaffolding, feedback, and evaluation and reflection.


Explicit Instruction

Calvert Learning uses direct skill statements to focus student attention on the most important concepts, as well as offers rubrics for supporting student success. Other explicit instruction features include:

  • Stated objectives that describe lesson learning outcomes
  • Effective teaching methods, such as modeling, experiments, exploration, and practice (e.g., shared writing, problem sets, simulations, and Use for Mastery checks)
  • Clear definitions of quality work, defined by rubrics and student models


Active Learning

Calvert Learning integrates questioning techniques and quick student responses within learning experiences that serve this important purpose. Examples can be found in Teaching Notes, Quick Checks, and Use for Mastery features. These elements focus students on big ideas and lead learners from discrete skills to deeper understandings.


Project-Based Learning

Many Calvert Learning curriculum units include projects that motivate students with real-world scenarios and opportunities for extended learning application. Projects are woven throughout the unit as motivating opportunities for independent skill practice that spark memorable learning. Projects include challenging problems, sustained inquiry, authenticity, student choice and selection, revision, and a public product.



Instructional scaffolding is a process in which temporary supports are provided to help students master new content and are then systematically removed as students gain independence. Scaffolding keeps students on track; helps them meet task requirements; and facilitates performance, decreasing frustration. Calvert Learning offers multiple scaffolds, as well as Teaching Note guidance, on when to remove them, including:

  • Fillable graphic organizers
  • Math manipulatives
  • Word banks
  • Sentence frames
  • Multimedia support



Feedback from a teacher or a learning system in response to student work draws student attention to a gap in knowledge and fosters improvement. In Calvert Learning, Teaching Notes support adults in providing student-growth-producing feedback. Quick Check formative assessments describe why answers are correct and repair student misconceptions.


Evaluation and Reflection

Within the lessons, reflection prompts ask students to think critically about their process and resulting work. Similarly, each lesson contains Use for Mastery guidelines that ask students to evaluate the quality of their response before submitting for grading. Also, a project rubric prompts self-evaluation and reflection of students’ work.


Read more about these learning design foundations in our Calvert Digital Learning Design and Research Base white paper.