Spotlight on Deeper Learning
What do today’s students really need to learn in order to succeed, not only in the classroom but also later on in college, careers, and as engaged citizens?
Much of American education policy focuses on the need for students to develop deeper content knowledge and an ability to apply their knowledge and skills to tasks and situations inside and outside of school. The Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards reflect this dual focus on academic learning and real-world application.
What is Deeper Learning?
The combination of (1) a deeper understanding of core academic content, (2) the ability to apply that understanding to novel problems and situations, and (3) the development of a range of competencies, including people skills and self control, is called deeper learning. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation—a leader in the national initiative to promote deeper learning in schools—has defined deeper learning as “a set of competencies students must master in order to develop a keen understanding of academic content and apply their knowledge to problems in the classroom and on the job.”
The Study of Deeper Learning: Opportunities and Outcomes
Funded by the Hewlett Foundation, the Study of Deeper Learning examined how some schools have provided opportunities for students to acquire deeper learning skills and how these opportunities are related to student outcomes. In a series of reports, AIR researchers compared the strategies and cultures, students’ deeper learning opportunities, and student outcomes between students who attended deeper learning network schools and non-network schools. In addition, exploratory analyses examined relationships among opportunities for deeper learning, deeper learning competencies, and students’ on-time high school graduation. AIR is currently conducting a follow-up study that will examine the impact of deeper learning on students’ civic engagement, college, and early workforce outcomes six years after high school graduation.