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Promoting Deep Learning in

College Students
Moving Students beyond Grades

Professor Terry Doyle


Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning
Ferris State University
Doylet@Ferris.edu

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A Reminder for Us All!!!
No college recruiter or grad school
admissions officer has the following as
their slogan

WANTED
College graduates that are good note-
takers and do great on multiple choice
tests!
The Key to Students’ Learning
 The one who does the work does the
learning!
We don’t all Think Alike
 Add 17 + 56 in your head!

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We don’t all Think Alike
 A—In columns like on paper

 B—Added 10 to 56 and 7 to 66

 C—Added 20 to 56 and subtracted 3 from 76

 D—Other
Definition of Learning
 Learning is a
change in the
neuron-patterns of
the brain
(Ratey, 2002)

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A Teacher’s Definition of Learning

The ability to use information after


significant periods of disuse
and
 the ability to use the information to solve
problems that arise in a context different
(if only slightly) from the context in which
the information was originally used
Robert Bjork, UCLA, Memory and Metamemory
The Brain and Learning
 The key message
about the brain is
this: “The neurons
that fire together
wire together”

(Hebb, 1949, Ratey 2002)
The Brain and Learning
 Meaning
the more we repeat the same
actions and thoughts—

 the more we encourage the


formation of certain
connections

 the more fixed the neural


circuits in the brain for that
activity become.
 (Ratey, 2002 pg 31)

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The Brain and Learning
 “Use it or lose it” Is
the corollary:

 if you don’t exercise


brain circuits, the
connections will not
be adaptive and will
slowly weaken and
could be lost. (Ratey 2002,
pg.31)
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The Brain and Learning
 “The brain is a pattern seeking device”

 It relates whole concepts to one another


and looks for similarities, differences, or
relationships between them.” (Ratey, 2002, pg.5)
Deep vs. Surface Learning
 Deep and Surface are two approaches to
study, derived from original empirical
research by Marton and Säljö (1976) and
since elaborated by Ramsden (1992),
Biggs (1987, 1993) and Entwistle (1981),
among others.
Deep vs. Surface Learning

 The following slides are based on the work


of :
 ATHERTON J S (2004) Teaching and Learning: Deep and Surface
learning [On-line] UK: Available:
http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/deepsurf.htm
Deep vs. Surface Learning
 John Biggs' famous distinction between
surface and deep learning has had a
major impact on thinking about the need
to make learners do something with the
information which normally forms the basis
of transactions between teachers and
learners
 ATHERTON J S (2004) Teaching and Learning: Deep and Surface learning [On-line] UK:
Available: http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/deepsurf.htm
Surface Learning
 Put briefly, surface
learning occurs where
students are too busy
accepting information
that they have no time
or motivation to
process it

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Deep Learning
 Deep learning, is mostly measured by the
extent to which qualitative changes –
rather than mere content memorization –
occur in students at the end of learning.
 It involves more processing, often through
discussion, reflection and in response to
the stimulus that problems or tasks
requiring that processing
It’s not the Method of Instruction
 Of course real insight into learning comes
when it is realized that the particular
educational form (lecture, tutorial, online
reading, computer mediated discussion
etc) is not the determinant of whether or
not learning is surface or deep.
Learner-Centered Teaching
Rather, the way in which we conceive of
the roles of students and teachers in
learning –
 the development of curricula and tasks on
the basis of this conception, is the
significant determinant.

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Grade Grabbers
 There is a third approach to learning,
known as the “Achieving” which can be
summarized as a very well-organized form
of Surface approach, and in which the
motivation is to get good marks.
Grade Grabbers
 For grade grabbers the
exercise of learning is
construed as a game,

 The acquisition of technique


improves performance.

 It works as well as the


analogy: however, insofar as
learning is not a game, it
breaks down.

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Deep Learning Surface Learning
 Focus is on “what is signified”  Focus is on the “signs” (or on
the learning as a signifier of
something else)

 Relates previous knowledge to


new knowledge  Focus on unrelated parts of
the task

 Relates knowledge from


different courses  Information for assessment is
simply memorized

(based on Ramsden, 1988)


Deep Learning Surface Learning
 Relates theoretical  Facts and concepts
ideas to everyday are associated
experience unreflectively

 Relates and  Principles are not


distinguishes distinguished from
evidence and examples
argument
(based on Ramsden, 1988)
Deep Learning Surface Learning
 Organizes and  Task is treated as an
structures content into external imposition
coherent whole
 Emphasis is
 Emphasis is internal, external, from
from within the demands of
student assessment

(based on Ramsden, 1988)


Surface Learners
 The Surface learner is
trying to “suss out”
what the teacher
wants and to provide
it, and is likely to be
motivated primarily by
fear of failure.

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Surface Learners
 One interesting study has suggested that
efforts by teachers to convey that what
they want is Deep learning only succeeds
in getting Surface learners to engage in
ever more complex contextualizing
exercises, trying to reproduce the features
of the Deep approach, from a Surface
basis. (Ramsden, Beswick and Bowden, 1986)
Deep Learning Surface Learning
 Deep learning is  Surface learning
experienced as tends to be
exciting and a experienced as an
gratifying challenge. uphill struggle,
characterized by
fighting against
boredom
Surface Learning
 There is some
evidence that
assessment methods
can “reach back” into
courses in such a way
as to make Surface
approaches more
likely

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Surface Learning
 Many current university students have
been "coached" by their teachers to get
the grades they need for admission: they
have been trained to be surface learners,
and their experience is that it "works".
 Why should they take the risk of working
in a different way?
Surface Learning
 Surface learning seems to be more likely
when learning is isolated from practice.

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Surface Learning
 Surface learning is perhaps a function of the
isolation of academic life from the real world
where knowledge and ignorance have real
consequences, rather than merely affecting
assessment grades.

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Control, Choice and Deep Learning
 Who make the decisions about your course?

 A=Faculty

 B=Jointly

 C=Students
Control and Learning
 A=Faculty B=Jointly C=Students

3. Course content
4. Course Calendar/due dates, topic order
5. Pace of the course/lessons/class
6. Types of assignments given
7. Number of evaluations/assessments used
Control and Learning
 A=Faculty B=Jointly C=Students

6. Grading Policy

7. Learning environment/attendance
policy, late work policy , late for class
food, drink in class etc.

8. Flow of communication in the classroom/when


questions are asked/when discussion is held
Control and Learning
 A=Faculty B=Jointly C=Students

9. What textbook will be used

10.Types of evaluations /assessments used

11.If formative student feedback will


be asked for

12. When office hours will be


Control, Choice and Deep Learning

 Based on the work of James Zull, 2002;


William Perry, 1997 and Perry and
Magnusson, 1987

 The brain seeks to


constantly be in
control—it is an
evolutionary part of its
survival priority (Zull, 2002)

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Control, Choice and Deep Learning
 If students perceive a
loss of control, (the
belief that they cannot
influence or control
events) that
orientation strongly
affects their academic
performance
(Perry, 1997)

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Control, Choice and Deep Learning
 The insistence on
control causes
humans to constantly
make decisions that
give them control
whether they
understand all of the
implication or not of
the decision( Zull, 2002)
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Control, Choice and Deep Learning
 No outside influence
can necessarily cause
the brain to give up its
control—it will decide
for itself
 The brain will decide
what it wants to learn
and what it does not
want to learn (Zull, 2002)
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Control, Choice and Deep Learning

 This choice is often based on previous


learning experiences—good or bad (Perry and
Magnusson, 1987)

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Control, Choice and Deep Learning

 If it is seen as important to students they


will choose to learn it

 This decision often takes time and multiple


exposures to the information before it is
made
 (Zull, 2002)
Deep Learning and Control
 Motivation—the
continued use of
external motivation
may force the brain
to give up control-“ I
don’t really want to
learn this but I need
the grade”
Deep Learning and Control
 The brain often makes one of two
choices in this external motivation
situation—

 Become a minimalist--do the least


amount of work needed to --
 1. Get the reward (grade)
 2. Avoid the punishment (failure)
Deep Learning and Control
 Ortry to devise
a way to do no
work but still get
the reward or
avoid the
punishment
Cheat
Deep Learning and Control
What gives students a sense of control in
their learning?

 Relevance—I can use this or see where I


might use it in the future

 Authenticity—It is a real issue in my life


or the lives of others right now
Deep Learning and Control
3. Choice—I have some say in what happens to
me—I can use my learning strengths or
interests to enhance my learning

4. Meaningfulness—I care about it


Deep Learning and Control
5. It connects with what is already motivating
the student —It has to do with the career they
want, the person they want to be, the life style
they want to have

6. Challenging—Students get a sense of


accomplishment from doing it, it tests their
abilities
Knowing WHY Leads to Deep
Learning
 Teaching is in many ways no different
than any other human to human
interaction.

 If I don’t know why you want me to help


you with a project or if I can’t see how
taking on a certain task has some benefit
to me I am hesitant to do it.
Creating Relevance for Learning
Activities
 1. Place learning activities in the context of current
knowledge of how the human brain learns

 2. Place learning activities in the context of how they aid


in the preparation for careers

 3. Place learning activities in the context of life long


learning

 4. Place learning in the context of immediate future


learning—the next course, next year etc.
Example of Creating Relevance for
Teaching and Learning Strategies
 Reflective Activities—Journaling
 1.It maximizes the opportunity for students to understand new
material by examining how the material connects to previously
learned material

 2. It expands students’ current view of the world by considering how


the new material might alter their current views of the world or
themselves.

 3. It increases the number of connections to other neuro networks


increasing the likelihood that students will be able to recall the
information in the future

 4. It expands the number of cues that students can respond to in


order to recall the new information
Relevance of Reflective Activities
Journaling
 5. It increase the number of neuro networks for the new
learning by coding it through the tactile and kinesthetic
senses (writing)

 6. Reflection is a key element of the natural way the


brain process information.( Zull p.17)

 7. It can help make emotional connections for the new


information enhancing recall.

 8. Journaling causes students to move from receivers of


knowledge to producers of knowledge (a frontal lobe
activity)
Decisions about Teaching

Skills

Behaviors

Methods, Assignments
Evaluations
Content

Thinking
Creating Deep Learning
 The key action is to always address the
questions WHY?HOW?
 Why am I telling you this?*
 Why is it important?
 How is this relevant to being a_________?
 Why do we need to learn this?
 Why is this part of the curriculum?
 How is this going to help me?
Creating Deep Learning
 Why am I telling you this?
 If the information is complex and difficult–
then it should be talked/lectured about
 BUT

 If students can learn it on their own or


teach each other than let them.
Creating Deep Learning
 “The one who
does the talking
does the
learning” –Thomas
Angelo

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Creating Deep Learning
 Encouraging faculty/student interaction (e.g. meet
groups to plan projects, "personalize" teaching)

 Encouraging student/student interaction (e.g. group


projects, peer tutoring)

 Using active and interactive teaching methods (e.g. case


studies, buzz groups)
Teaching Strategies to Foster "Deep" Versus "Surface Learning
Elizabeth Campbell, Centre for University Teaching
 Dr. Christopher Knapper, Professor of Psychology and Director of the Instructional Development Centre
at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario
Creating Deep Learning
 Making links with what students already know to
encourage sense of structure

 Allowing students input into course goals and methods,


being receptive and flexible

 Discussing teaching and learning skills explicitly

 Trying to link course topics to students’ lives and career


aspirations
Teaching Strategies to Foster "Deep" Versus "Surface Learning
Elizabeth Campbell, Centre for University Teaching
Dr. Christopher Knapper, Professor of Psychology and Director of the Instructional Development Centre at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario
Creating Deep Learning
 Define assessment
goals and tasks
clearly, and ensure
they are congruent
with learning
outcomes

 Allow choice of
assessment tasks

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Creating Deep Learning
 Stress tasks that
allow time for
information gathering,
depth, and reflection
(e.g. projects vs.
exams)

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Creating Deep Learning
 Encourage collaborative
projects
 Choose tasks that require
integration of information
from a range of sources
 Give full and proactive
feedback on labs,
assignments, and tests
and require students to
use the feedback to
improve

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Teaching Approaches that Creating
Deep Learning
 Problem-based learning
Students are confronted with an ill-
structured problem that mirrors real-world
problems.

 Well chosen problems encourage


students to define problems, identify what
information is needed, and engage in
solution generation and decision making.
Teaching Approaches that Creating
Deep Learning
 http://www.saltspring.com/capewest/pbl.htm

 Samples of how to teach problem based


learning
Teaching Approaches that Creating
Deep Learning
 Case Based learning

Cases are factually-based, complex problems


written to stimulate classroom discussion and
collaborative analysis.

Case teaching involves the interactive, student-


centered exploration of realistic and specific
situations.
Teaching Approaches that Creating
Deep Learning
As students
consider problems
from a perspective
which requires
analysis, they strive
to resolve questions
that have no single
right answer.

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Teaching Approaches that Creating
Deep Learning
 http://www.pitt.edu/~ciddeweb/fds/lrn_cas
ebased.htm

 Website for case based learning


Teaching Approaches that Creating
Deep Learning
 Performance/ Presentation

 The action of having to demonstrate,


teach, guide, or inform, the whole class
or an invited group of experts
increases the likelihood for deep
learning.
Teaching Approaches that Creating
Deep Learning
 Students’ performance is public, it is critiqued
and it has a much higher risk and greater
accountability.

 These factors motivate students to learn well


what they are to present—in addition perhaps
the highest form of demonstrating
comprehension is the ability to teach others. (D.
Sousa, How the Brain Learns, 2001)
Teaching Approaches that Creating
Deep Learning
 Student Research

 Research is an active, diligent and systematic


process of inquiry in order to discover, interpret
or revise facts, events, behaviors, or theories, or
to make practical applications with the help of
such facts, laws or theories.

 The term "research" is also used to describe the


collection of information about a particular
subject.
Teaching Approaches that Creating
Deep Learning
 Academic Service Learning

 Service-learning is a form of public engagement


and experiential learning.

 It is a pedagogical model which intentionally


integrates academic learning with authentic
community service in a credit bearing academic
course.
Teaching Approaches that Creating
Deep Learning
 Service Learning
 Students participate in a service activity which
meets needs identified by the community and
critically reflect on that activity.

 Thus students gain a deep understanding of


course content, a commitment to socially
responsible citizenship, and develop skills
and understandings needed to contribute to
civic well-being.
Teaching the Patterns of the Subject
Area can Enhance Deep Learning
 James Ratey in his book The User’s
Guide to the Brain offers this simple
description of the human brain— “ the
brain is a pattern seeking device”

www.cyh.com/HealthTopics/Library/brain.gi f
Patterns are a Key
The way in which a student organizes the
new information - the degree to which she
can create meaningful and familiar
patterns – is a key to retaining the
information.

The information must be integrated into


our permanent conceptual scheme
FOR EXAMPLE
Try to remember the following:

15084972637
Now try again:

1- (508) 497-2637

OR

15,084,972,637
Try to remember these letters:

LSDNBCTVFBIUSA
Now try again:

LSD NBC TV FBI USA


Recognition of Patterns
 Helping students to see or discover the patterns
that exist in the information that we teach is a
vital part of helping them to become deep
learners learners.

 As students discover the patterns within


information it moves their learning from
memorizing isolated bits of data or information to
meaningful understandings of how ideas and
concepts are formed or fit together.
Advanced Organizers
 Advanced organizers are powerful
instruments for focusing students’ attention
 Examples:
~Agree-Disagree Chart
~Helps emotions and helps illustrate concepts

Agree Disagree
Faculty should get fully Faculty should pay part
paid health care of their health care
Advanced Organizers

 Similarities and Differences

What are the similarities and differences


between the Detroit Lion and the Chicago Bears

Chicago wins some games and Detroit loses most games


Advanced Organizers
 Mind Maps: show relationships in
various ways and levels

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References
 References
1. ATHERTON J S (2004) Teaching and Learning: Deep and Surface learning [On-
line] UK: Available: http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/deepsurf.htm
2. Brooks, J. and Martin. In search of Understanding: The Case for the Constructionist
Classroom, 1999
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beings. In J. Metcalfe & A. Shimamura (Eds) Metacognition: Knowing about Knowing
pp. 185-205. Cambridge, MA MIT Press.
4. Bloom, Benjamin S. (Ed). (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The
classification of Educational Goals. Handbook I. Cognitive Domain (pp. 201-
207). New York: McKay.
5. Elizabeth Campbell Teaching Strategies to Foster "Deep" Versus "Surface Learning,
Centre for University Teaching( based on the work of Christopher Knapper,
Professor of Psychology and Director of the Instructional Development Centre at
Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario
References
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References
14 .D. O. Hebb,1949 monograph, The Organization of Behaviour
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References
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