Deeper Learning: The concept described by students who experience it


Students in grade 7 show their memory boxes, part of their study of how identity is formed as they read The Outsiders.

This week, three studies were published showing that “deeper learning” schools have many benefits for their students. Among them are high academic motivation and engagement. The study, which was of schools in a specific “deeper learning” network, showed that teachers and students were consistently engaged in thinking about what they were learning and at trying to get better at learning. Schools emphasized collaboration, problem solving, communication, self-directed learning and an academic mindset. You can read one summary of the research on the Mind/Shift website.

We have used the term “deeper learning,” at PDS for years. Inspired by the recent studies, I started to wonder how our students might describe deeper learning– and if they would be able to describe how it looks from their point of view as a PDS student. This afternoon I slipped into an eighth grade science class and their teacher’s permission to do a brief interview with a sample of students. I asked about nine students, “What does it mean when we say ‘deeper learning’ at PDS?”

Here are some answers:

We do more about each topic– like activities and fun stuff…

Getting down to the depths of what something means– the hidden truth…

Teaching us both sides of something– so we have a choice– we can form our opinions based on both sides…

Understanding instead of memorizing– that means we can use the terms because we know them…

Doing something instead of listening about it…

I think they’ve got the idea. Even better, I can tell they’ve had the experience.

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