What are the 4 Rs?



UP for Learning utilizes the 4 Rs framework - rigor, relevance, relationships and shared responsibility - to ground its action research.  These are nationally recognized and research validated factors contributing to engaging learning.



Rigor is the level of challenge in a learning situation that stretches the learner to move beyond current mastery to new levels of understanding. Many developmental theorists have identified the critical nature of rigor and challenge in the learning process, building on the inherent curiosity of human beings so evident in early childhood.


Relevance means there’s a connection between the content under study and the learner’s own life, interests, questions, or past learning. Educational practices that increase relevance and trigger some emotional connection to the content will predictably enhance engagement and motivation, and increase long term storage of information.


Relationships have a direct and powerful impact on learning. Research affirms that learning is enhanced in the context of strong student-teacher relationships that continually reinforce high expectations and a growth mindset. Most important, a safe, caring, and supportive learning environment reduces stress, which impedes learning.


Shared responsibility lies at the interface of rigor, relevance and strong student-teacher relationships. It is critical that the learner takes an active role in the learning process. Once the ability to reflect on one’s own learning is mastered, the teacher and student can shape the learning context based on these insights in a continuous loop of reflection and co-construction.

4Rs and the Neuropsychology of Learning

These two page overviews explore the relationship of the 4 Rs to the neuropsychology of learning. They are tools to build understanding and support for school change based on these important factors.


  • Rigor

  • Relevance

  • Relationships

  • Shared Responsibility

  • 1

UPLogo with words FINAL 5-1-14

There is no greater power than a community discovering what it cares about. 
-Margaret Wheatley 


Listen UP

  • YATST Student Member

    The student-led faculty meeting was unlike anything I have ever seen in terms of students and teachers holding a discussion about a topic as sensitive as their teaching methods. I heard from a lot of teachers in the “go-around” that they were awestruck about what had just happened.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3


  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  155 Elm Street, Suite 1
Montpelier, VT 05602

Keep in Touch