How Does Deeper Learning Prepare Students?

"In order to prepare young people to do the jobs computers cannot do we must re-focus our education system around one objective: giving students the foundational skills in problem-solving and communication that computers don't have." - Frank Levy and Richard J. Murnane, "Dancing with Robots"

To be prepared for the future, our students need a more advanced set of skills. Employers are seeking college graduates with the capacity to think about problems in new ways, design their own solutions, and collaborate and communicate in multicultural settings. By 2018, 63 percent of all U.S. job openings will require at least some college coursework.  Employers will need 3 million more college graduates than they’ll be able to find.

Moreover, today’s students will become the next generation of leaders and citizens. They’ll face complex environmental and social problems, like climate change and global poverty. To meet those challenges, they’ll need to be able to work together and think analytically. As Albert Einstein said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

How do we know that deeper learning will best prepare students to succeed in the workforce and lead in their communities?

In the short term, deeper learning skills help students master core academic content and retain what they learn. Schools are demonstrating that students who are engaged in deeper learning are more motivated and take ownership of their education, which results in higher performance. They’re gaining knowledge and recalling facts, but they can also apply what they know to real-world situations. Check out some of their real-life work.

In the long term, deeper learning skills are the keys to a student’s future success. Employers are, in so many words, telling us they need talent with deeper learning skill sets. They report that the strongest applicants work well in teams, communicate effectively, solve problems, manage their own priorities and goals, and believe in hard work.

Deeper learning skills also enable students to become more active, engaged members of their communities. Watch this video to see how a group of young students in California collaborated with their neighbors and communicated effectively with lawmakers and the media to save a state park. The lessons they learned, like the value of hard work (“I had done something to help the community, and it felt really good”) and a strong belief in themselves (“Anybody can make a difference; it doesn’t matter if you’re a kid”) will help them succeed throughout their lives.