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What is Deeper Learning?


Rahil Maharaj explains that attending Impact Academy, an Envision school in Hayward, California, has given him the inspiration and confidence to work hard and apply to college.



What is deeper learning?

In classrooms where deeper learning is the focus, you find students who are motivated and challenged—who look forward to their next assignment. They apply what they have learned in one subject area to newly encountered situations in another. They can see how their classwork relates to real life. They are gaining an indispensable set of knowledge, skills, and beliefs, including:

  • Mastery of Core Academic Content: Students build their academic foundation in subjects like reading, writing, math, and science. They understand key principles and procedures, recall facts, use the correct language, and draw on their knowledge to complete new tasks.
  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: Students think critically, analytically, and creatively. They know how to find, evaluate, and synthesize information to construct arguments. They can design their own solutions to complex problems.
  • Collaboration: Collaborative students work well in teams. They communicate and understand multiple points of view and they know how to cooperate to achieve a shared goal.
  • Effective Communication: Students communicate effectively in writing and in oral presentations. They structure information in meaningful ways, listen to and give feedback, and construct messages for particular audiences.
  • Self-directed Learning: Students develop an ability to direct their own learning. They set goals, monitor their own progress, and reflect on their own strengths and areas for improvement. They learn to see setbacks as opportunities for feedback and growth. Students who learn through self-direction are more adaptive than their peers.
  • An “Academic Mindset”: Students with an academic mindset have a strong belief in themselves. They trust their own abilities and believe their hard work will pay off, so they persist to overcome obstacles. They also learn from and support each other. They see the relevance of their schoolwork to the real world and their own future success.

When students are developing knowledge, skills, and academic mindsets simultaneously, they learn more efficiently. They acquire and retain more academic knowledge when they are engaged, believe their studies are important, and are able to apply what they are learning in complex and meaningful ways.

Mastery of academic content is critical to a student’s future success in college, careers, and life, so it is the foundation of—and never overlooked in—deeper learning classrooms.

Read more in-depth definitions of this set of knowledge, skills, and beliefs.