Written by Melanie King, graduate student, Applied Mathematics and Computational Sciences

We live in an age of technological innovation, where people have discovered how to use computers to do increasingly complex tasks. In the academic field of deep learning, algorithms are developed to teach computers to do tasks. How have these technological advancements changed teaching and learning in higher education? Moreover, has it changed our curriculum and methods so that students with college degrees can thrive in this day and age?

For students to keep pace with technological advancements in many academic fields, such as deep learning, they will need to engage themselves in deeper learning in the classroom. Deeper learning is a framework in education with the goal of producing students who are equipped with a high-level skill set. Some of the core goals of deeper learning include:

  1. Master core academic content
  2. Think critically and solve complex problems
  3. Work collaboratively
  4. Communicate effectively
  5. Learn how to learn
  6. Develop academic mindsets

(from hewlett.org/library/deeper-learning-defined)

As a University of Iowa graduate student in applied mathematics, I have noticed that the value of my education has been in developing a skill set of logical thinking and being immersed in a deeper learning experience. My struggles engaging in deeper learning in graduate school have heavily impacted my teaching philosophy. However, effectively interlacing my teaching philosophy with some of the core goals of deeper learning proved to be a tall order without sufficient research and resources. Here are some references that discuss deeper learning and offer some strategies/resources to foster deeper learning in the classroom.

  1. Liz Grauerholz, “Teaching Holistically to Achieve Deep Learning,” College Teaching 49, no. 2 (2001): 44–50, https://doi.org/10.1080/87567550109595845.

  2. Noel Entwistle, “Promoting Deep Learning through Teaching and Assessment: Conceptual Frameworks and Educational Contexts” (paper presented at the TLRP Conference, Leicester, UK, November 2000).

  3. “Deeper Learning Defined,” William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, April 23, 2013, https://hewlett.org/library/deeper-learning-defined.

Although I am new to deeper learning techniques, I am convinced of the value of the deeper learning framework, and I have tried introductory techniques to incorporate some fundamentals in my classroom. In my college algebra class, I start with an overview of the core content for the day, and then I add a small activity that requires them to begin building their logic and intuition for the material. I encourage group work and presentations of problems where we discuss the processes of problem solving as a class. My hope is that students are in an environment tat offers them an opportunity to foster their unique deeper learning experiences.