Definition of Learning

At NIS learning is defined as “a dynamic process which results in the sustained and demonstrable consolidation or extension of conceptual understanding, skills and dispositions.”

We recognize that learning occurs through both the formal classroom curriculum as well as through the wider co-curricular and community life of the school.  As such, NIS recognizes that - along with student well-being - all programs, policies, practices and initiatives need to be both planned for, and evaluated with the principles of student learning at the center.

Specifically, NIS recognizes that learning occurs in conceptual understanding, the attainment of relevant competencies and the development of the dispositions of global citizenship. As such, the formal and informal curriculum, and the manner in which it is taught and learned, will be reflective of the different ways in which conceptual, competency and character learning occur in the learner.


CONCEPTUAL learning is happening when learners are:

  • connecting new knowledge to prior understanding  and to important concepts.
  • constructing theories of:
    • how things work
    • why things are the way they are.
  • testing their theories in different contexts in order to:
    • refine them so they have more and more explanatory power
    • see when, where and how they apply.


SKILLS learning is happening when learners are:

  • deconstructing expert performance and comparing it with their own.
  • identifying the adjustments needed in order to improve
  • practicing in order to refine the skill and so enable their performance or execution of the skill to become  increasingly automatic


DISPOSITIONAL learning is happening when learners are:

  • Developing the ability to enact the skills relevant to a given disposition
  • Developing the sensitivity of WHEN and HOW to use those skills to enact the disposition
  • Developing the inclination to use those skills at the right time and place in order to enact the disposition
  • Reflecting on the effects of these actions, owning responsibility, and committing to future growth


And fundamentally all learning occurs only when learners are experiencing ‘good struggle’ inside their zone of proximal development.

At NIS, this learning is delivered through the curriculum of the IB frameworks and through the co-curricular and community life surrounding these curricular experiences.