WHY are frameworks important? Strong frameworks can contribute both to learning and to effective communication.

DEFINITION: What is a "framework?" A framework is a structure of assumptions, facts, and rules that are connected to support a concept (National Research Council. 2000).

Frameworks can help to connect new information to previous knowledge, which facilitates content learning (National Research Council. 2000).

Frameworks can help to structure communication between authors and audiences (Booth, 2016). Using a framework to structure communication makes the communication explanatory, instead of solely descriptive. Explanatory communication places information in context, which facilitates understanding and retention (National Research Council. 2000).

Therefore, frameworks can help individuals learn for themselves and also effectively communicate with others. Structure is one key to clarity despite complexity.

Many types of frameworks are available. However, not all frameworks are equally strong.

Frameworks can structure ideas in many different ways (Handlesman, 2007). For example, exercises such as creating concept maps, Venn diagrams, or comparing and contrasting ideas all use frameworks to help structure information and contribute to learning (Handlesman, 2007). Visual representations of frameworks can help to analyze complex problems such as designing scientific experiments. However, not all frameworks are equally useful for organizing thinking and writing.

Deliberately selecting a specific framework for every aspect of communication can clarify both thinking and writing. Three frameworks that are available to structure writing are: chronological (time-based), lists, and reasoned.