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Deeper learning is a term that describes a set of student educational outcomes including acquisition of robust core academic content, higher-order thinking skills, and learning dispositions. It is associated with a growing movement in U.S. education that places special emphasis on the ability to apply knowledge to real-world circumstances and to solve novel problems. Deeper learning is based on the premise that the nature of work, civic, and everyday life is changing and therefore increasingly requires that formal education provides young people with mastery of skills like analytic reasoning, complex problem solving, and teamwork.
As an umbrella term for a set of educational outcomes, "deeper learning" was first introduced by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in 2010. Specifically, this set of outcomes consists of six interrelated core competencies.
A growing number of U.S. schools and school districts serving a broad socio-economic spectrum apply deeper learning as an integral component of their instructional approach. Some organizations applying or supporting the application of deeper learning have produced videos to show what deeper learning looks like in practice. These include the Teaching Channel's video series on deeper learning and the Alliance for Excellent Education's "What Deeper Learning Looks Like".
While the term "deeper learning" is relatively new, the notion of enabling students to develop skills that empower them to apply learning and to adapt to and thrive in post-secondary education as well as career and life is not. A number of significant antecedents to deeper learning exist.
For example, American philosopher, psychologist and educational reformer John Dewey (1859–1952) made "a strong case for the importance of education not only as a place to gain content knowledge, but also as a place to learn how to live." Like modern proponents of deeper learning, Dewey "believed that students thrive in an environment where they are allowed to experience and interact with the curriculum, and all students should have the opportunity to take part in their own learning." Dewey's arguments undergirded the movements of progressive education and constructivist education, which called for teaching and learning beyond rote content knowledge.
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