Deep learning refers to learning which leads to personal change, over time. Deep learning requires a sense of ownership and responsibility for learning on the part of the individual, in community and over time. It involves understanding one’s self – both past and future – and being able to develop the personal qualities necessary for engaging with new learning opportunities. It means becoming a ‘knowledge worker’ – able to move from experience, observation and description to problem formulation and the co-construction of new knowledge, which can then be applied in the world in a meaningful way. Sometimes school learning achieves this over time – given the right relationships and context and place – but more often than not, it’s just about performance. The Effective Lifelong Learning Inventory (ELLI) is a research validated assessment tool from the University of Bristol which facilitates deep learning through self-assessment which supports identity formation and enables the individual to turn diagnosis into a strategy for change. For more information download Introducing ELLI – values and purposes – October 2011
Building on several research and development projects including the Learning Futures programme, we can now identify several design principles which inform pedagogies aimed at deep learning and engagement. These aren’t rules and they don’t form a blue print – they are design principles. We like to work with the jazz metaphor for organisational and professional learning – here are some key harmonies and melodies which make the music distinctive, but each time a group plays, they produce something original and unique which reflects the context. All of the principles operate at three levels: the organisation as a whole, teacher practices and student experiences. A school is a complex adaptive system, where these principles are interdependent and together generate more than the sum of the individual parts. It’s down to each school to draw on their own wisdom and experience in how they co-generate their own learning at each of the three levels.
School level design principles
The main school level Learning Futures themes have been refined into:
- School as basecamp
- Enquiry-based learning
- School as learning commons
- Extended learning relationships
Design principles for learning facilitators
A Language for learning: a rich language for learning through which we can talk about ourselves as learners and develop and own our own learning story.
Authenticity: the personal involvement of the learner in selecting a focus for their enquiry which has meaning and relevance to them in their lives beyond the classroom.
Active engagement: the production of discourse, products or performances that have relevance to learners beyond school and require more active engagement than simply repetition, retrieval of information and memorisation of facts or rules.
Enquiry: the co-construction of knowledge through disciplined enquiry which involves building on a prior knowledge base, striving for in-depth understanding and expressing findings through elaborated communication.
Coaching and Mentoring: learning relationships which are facilitative and empower the learner to take responsibility for their own learning over time.
Authentic assessment: both formative and summative which moves seamlessly between the personal and the public and is meaningful and real to the learner, their subject matter and their community.
Design principles for assessing student learning experiences
Core elements of the student experience that seem to enable students to do enquiry well include:
- Self reflection and ownership of a learning identity and personal learning power
- Structured choice of object or topic for learning
- Generation of a range of information types through experiencing, observing, describing, questioning and uncovering stories
- Knowledge mapping
- Knowledge construction through higher order creative and critical thinking
- Connecting with existing funds of knowledge
- Negotiation and planning of externally agreed assessment criteria
- Authentic assessment events – public, presentation or exhibition
Design principles for Coaching for Learning:
- Encourage authentic language for learning
- Listen deeply and earn trust
- Invite stories of the self as learner for identity formation and reflection
- Use metaphor and image to access personal knowledge
- Use the seven dimensions of learning power to scaffold enquiry
- ‘Talk aloud’ to model and co-construct new knowledge