Deeper Learning: What We Know So Far

July 21, 2017
Getting Smart

Higher expectations, better measures and equity-ensuring accountability all sounded good in their own right, but bundled as standards-based reform and supercharged by NCLB, a bunch of unintended consequences swamped American education and resulted in a lot of thin, scripted, mind numbing test-prep. Deeper Learning is what the standards movement missed.

Engaging learners in authentic and extended tasks causes deeper learning–it’s what Ted Sizer called “helping young people learn to use their minds well.”

What do we know about teaching for deeper learning? We know it’s working.

Teaching that focuses on the development of the six deeper learning competencies (mastering core academic content, thinking critically and solving complex problems, working collaboratively, communicate effectively, learning how to learn and developing academic mindsets–see this image, from AIR) has proven to yield increased graduation rates, more engaged and advanced thinkers and increased equitability in opportunities to access high-quality learning experiences across schools in the U.S.

While still standards-aligned, the opportunity for students to investigate, tackle complex and real-world problems and develop academic persistence is the direction we should be taking K-12 education. Educators who are dedicated to deeper learning outcomes prove this to be true by daily are gleaning insights and evidence that it is working.

With support from the Hewlett Foundation, the Deeper Learning movement has grown from a handful of committed leaders and educators to thousands of dedicated schools and even the development of a Deeper Learning Equity Fellowship Program. Kaleb Rashad, Director of High Tech High, says that he is so enthused to see more educators focus on the six deeper learning six competencies (see below), but really encourages us to remember that is about the three cogs of “how students work with content, work with colleagues and work with themselves.” Deeper learning goes far beyond defining what these competencies are and is more about helping students grow, thrive and flourish in meaningful ways.

When you talk to educators and students engaged in deeper learning, they see more than traditional measures, they see quality work product resulting from student engagement, reflection, and a culture of revision. For others new to deeper learning or looking for support, outcome evaluations lends fuel to their work.

As Hewlett’s Marc Chun said at the Deeper Learning Conference this year, “We don’t want deeper learning to just be kindling or a flame that goes out after a year. We want an eternal flame that keeps burning and grows sustainability across states and in schools.”

Read more here.

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