School Features and Student Opportunities for Deeper Learning: What Makes a Difference?
Findings From the Study of Deeper Learning: Opportunities and Outcomes (Report 5 of 5)
The Study of Deeper Learning: Opportunities and Outcomes aimed to determine whether Students attending high schools with a mature and at least moderately well-implemented approach to promoting deeper learning actually experienced different instructional strategies, greater deeper learning opportunities, and better outcomes than they would have had they not attended these schools. The main findings from this study indicated that students in deeper learning network schools did in fact experience different instructional strategies, greater opportunities to engage in deeper learning activities, and more positive results on a range of outcomes than their matched counterparts in comparison sites.
This report extends those main findings by investigating the potential facilitating role of certain school features in schools’ ability to provide deeper learning opportunities for their students. Researchers examined teachers’ survey responses related to their own beliefs about teaching, their assessment of their peers’ professional culture, and their assessment of the success of the principal in providing instructional leadership and program coherence. They then asked whether these features help to explain variation in students’ reports of their opportunities to engage in deeper learning in their core classes.
- Network schools varied with respect to beliefs about teaching, teachers’ professional culture, and instructional leadership and coherence, as reported by teachers on surveys.
- Teachers’ reports of their own student-centered beliefs about teaching (i.e., giving students agency in their own learning) and their self-efficacy for teaching (i.e., believing in their capabilities as teachers) were the features most strongly and consistently related to greater student opportunities to engage in deeper learning.
- By contrast, teacher-centered beliefs about teaching were negatively related to student opportunities.
- Through interviews, school administrators, teachers, and network staff reported three school-level conditions that facilitated their ability to implement and sustain their approach to deeper learning: teacher collaboration and professional community, school leadership, and support from the network.
- The most commonly cited barriers to implementation and sustainability were staff burnout and turnover, lack of funding, and state and district policies related to teacher hiring practices and student assessments.
- In general, while teachers’ own beliefs seemed to have the most consistent and strongest associations with the opportunities students reported experiencing in the classroom, the interview data suggested that other school features and external policies can influence teachers’ beliefs about teaching and about their own teaching skills.
School Features and Student Opportunities for Deeper Learning: What Makes a Difference? by Mette Huberman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.