A recent post entitled “Beyond Knowing Facts, How Do We Get to a Deeper Level of Learning?” on KQED’s Mindshift blog discusses the teaching approach of deeper learning. I had never heard of this term before, but I found that it shares many of the same ideas of conceptual understanding that I study in my research on engineering education. Essentially, a deeper learning approach seeks to cultivate an innovative and robust learning experience for students that goes beyond memorizing facts. I wasn’t surprised to read that proponents of deeper learning find teaching for standardized tests kills innovation in the classroom.
An intriguing aspect of deeper learning is a focus on “academic mindsets” According to Stanford Professor Carol Dweck’s research, these are four key beliefs students must hold in order to develop a positive academic mindset:
- I can change my intelligence and abilities through effort
- I can succeed
- I belong in this learning community
- This work has value and purpose for me
I fear that many engineering undergrads today are not focused on building a positive academic mindset, but instead want to simply plug numbers into variables and move onto the next equation. It would be interesting to expand some of my research to include the importance of academic mindsets and creating deeper learning environments in the classroom and the effects these factors have on improving conceptual understanding of engineering principles.