Examinations: an open book open web (OBOW) context for final examinations is described. It uses authentic assessment principles in providing real problems to which students apply current knowledge and skills rather than reproduce content. Read more Williams (2006b).
Bridging tools:video is used as a bridging tool to demonstrate the research process in a marketing course. The strategy helped students to more confidently approach the deep learning strategies they were required to undertake. They were able to move more quickly to thinking critically and synthesizing and analyzing material. Read more Ryan, Ogilvie & Bevilacqua (2007).
What should you think about when implementing deep learning in your teaching
Answer Yes to these
Teaching philosophy: I believe in student-centred learning. I think about the contribution I am making to the development of students skills and capabilities for their future professional lives.
Pedagogies: Do active and self-directed learning approaches which characteristically emphasize constructivist learning suit my teaching?
Curriculum: What are the learning outcomes I wish my students to have in my course?
Tools for learning: How will I motivate my students to adopt active and self-directed learning strategies? How will I incorporate active and self-directed learning into my course?
Commitment: Can I identify an ‘active or self-directed learning’ champion who will support innovative practice?
Why is it important?
The aims of higher education are many but importantly include that students engage in deep learning that enables them to undergo conceptual change in their thinking and understanding of self as well as acquire disciplinary information and content (Biggs, 2003). Deep learning behaviors promote more meaningful learning in learners (Nelson Laird, Shoup, Kuh, & Schwarz, 2008).
Deep learning which focuses on the meaning of tasks, interconnected ideas and integrated structures can foster independent learning abilities (Walker, Brownlee, Lennox, Exley, Howells & Cocker, 2009). Learning in higher education is also about encouraging students to be self-directed so that they can determine their own learning needs, set learning goals, take action to meet necessary requirements and evaluate their work for both their immediate responsibilities as students and future circumstances as professionals (Biggs, 2003).
What is it and how does it support learning? What does recent research say?
A deep achieving approach is the most desired attribute for higher education learning. Deep achieving learning is most effective when students are aware of their own learning processes and adopt strategies that match their motives for learning (Biggs, 1987).
Students can approach learning in three ways. A deep approach to learning is typified by a personal commitment to understand material and is demonstrated by behaviors such as wide reading and relating new knowledge to what is already known. It leads to an understanding of the complexity of a task and students will have positive feelings about their learning. Surface learning is characterized by doing the minimum and engaging in rote learning and memorization. It does not tend to achieve a complex understanding of concepts and students’ associated feelings are often dislike, dissatisfaction or boredom. Achieving learners are well organized and motivated to achieve high marks and will combine this approach with either deep or surface strategies to align with their learning motives (Biggs, 1987; 2003).
Extensive research shows that effective learning environments promote deep learning approaches (Nelson Laird et al, 2008). While personal ability affects a student’s approach to learning, the actual learning task and learning conditions also have a large influence on learning approach (Biggs, 2003).
Students’ approaches to learning are also influenced by the beliefs they hold about learning (Walker et al, 2009). Understanding the range of students’ backgrounds and their underlying beliefs about learning can lead to using more effective ways of learning and teaching that guide them to adopt deep learning approaches and achieve course goals. In a study that investigated first year students it was found that learning beliefs were related to program of study, gender, age, educational experience and family experience at university (Walker et al, 2009).
Assessment needs to support learning rather than measure learning. Student learning is most influenced, not by teaching, but by the type of assessment systems and the way feedback is used (Gibbs & Simpson, 2004-5). Conditions that can influence students to learn more effectively include having enough time to learn, using coursework assignments rather than exams, providing formative assessment tasks and giving effective and timely feedback (Gibbs & Simpson, 2004-5).
Recent research found that students in soft, pure and life disciplines tend to adopt deeper learning strategies than those studying hard, applied and non-life disciplines (Nelson Laird et al, 2008). However, students in any discipline who engage in deep learning, experience high personal and intellectual development along with greater satisfaction levels with their studies (Nelson Laird et al, 2008).