Deeper Learning: What is it and why is it so effective?

Hwang, Naomi


Briggs, S. (2015, March 7). Deeper learning: What is it and why is it so effective? Retrieved June 13, 2019, from informED website:

Summary: In this article, Briggs discusses a couple of definitions of deeper learning, and argues that deeper learning is what educators have always been striving for. However, the saying “easier said than done” applies. While most educators want to use deep learning strategies, their efforts have been hindered by the need to prepare students for important assessments and a lack of time to plan and teach curriculum. A number of deeper learning strategies are mentioned and discussed throughout the article, sometimes supplemented by the results of research studies. Examples of these include changing the format of assessments to promote higher level thinking and having students work in groups. In the end, Briggs suggests that deep learning needs to be a priority not only at a classroom or school-wide level, but also the local, state, and national levels for it to become the norm.

Evaluation: I felt that this medium-length article was a good introduction into the idea of deeper learning. While Briggs did not go into detail for all of the strategies she mentioned, she gave good examples and explanations for the ones that were more complex. I especially appreciated her perspective and reflection on why deeper learning has been a struggle to implement despite being “an old dog by a new name”.

What Do Students Want to Learn?

Isbister, Kathy

Educational Theory

What do students want to learn? (n.d.). Retrieved from

Summary: I found this link on the Innovation Playlist website, under the heading “Student-driven learning”. In the video, the State Superintendent for Public Instruction in Virginia details an idea a middle school Principal put into action. Students were asked to write down something they would like to learn on a post-it note. The notes were collected, and a few 30-minute blocks were set aside during the year to teach subjects students suggested such as “How to tie a bowtie” and “How to change a tire”. It was a small innovation, but a success because it opened conversations at the school about relevancy and engagement.

Evaluation: While the setting for this video is dry (a man at his desk), and the introduction is dry, it is brief and shares a powerful experiment conducted in one middle school. The speaker stresses that this activity did not have to happen frequently to be meaningful, and I think that is an important point. Students have a long memory for activities they enjoy, whether they happen frequently or not. If this particular experience is not recreated multiple times during the year, it does still demonstrate to students that they can ask for learning experiences that are personally relevant and there are resources available to provide the information they seek. While they may not always be able to have an individual lesson with an actual instructor on “how to tie a bowtie”, they can still see that this is a valid question someone felt it was worthwhile to answer, and if they have other information needs in the future they may seek out answers rather than just let those types of questions fade away.

Book Love

Gould, Molly




Kittle, P. (2013). Book love: Developing depth, stamina, and passion in adolescent readers.

Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Heinemann

Link to the Book Love website, including information about the book and podcast:



Book Love is Penny Kittle’s guide for secondary ELA teachers who wish to implement choice reading in their English classes. While Kittle does not make a case for doing away with the more traditional shared reading that occurs in most secondary English classes, she provides guidelines, instructions, inspiration and the rationale for including choice reading in the curriculum.



This is an inspiring and empowering guide to a practice that is near and dear to my heart. If you want to create or support a culture of reading in your classroom or school, this guide not only inspires, but it provides practical advice for the implementation of a successful student-selected reading program.

Urban Myths about Learning and Education – Book

Clem, Katy


De Bruyckere, P., Kirschner, P.A., & Hulshof, C.D. (2015). Urban Myths about Learning and Education. Academic Press.

Preview available at

This is a full book rather than a journal article, but it is a great place to begin understanding educational theories. The authors devote the first section to a wide-reaching foundation in ET background before moving on to describing and debunking 12 common myths in education.

Urban Myths About Learning and Education serves as a particularly elegant source of background to Education Theory & Practice; as it is aimed at novices and experts alike, its early chapters are dedicated to providing a foundational overview of the current educational paradigm, operating theories, roles in education research, and definitions of frequently used terms. I found this so helpful and used it as a launching pad for deeper investigation into individual ideas. The many, many useful references from this book alone could take me years to examine! Ultimately, this single title emerged as my most useful resource on education theory, and I’ve been going back to it repeatedly for further topical background as I stretch my knowledge base. It provided a mental map to how the world of educational research is currently laid out and allowed me to create a scaffold of understanding into which new ideas could be categorized and linked in a meaningful way rather than just added to the top of an ever-growing pile of information.

The School Librarian and Leadership

The School Librarian and Leadership: What Can Be Learned?

Elias, Jenann


ROOTS LEWIS, K. (2016). The School Librarian and Leadership What Can Be
Learned? Teacher Librarian, 43(4), 18-21.

As library professionals we are surrounded by exciting research, brilliant minds, and amazing practitioners. Armed with these resources, we should “elevate library positions in schools, ensure deep student learning and keep libraries at the forefront of teaching and learning” (Roots Lewis, 2016). This can be accomplished in several ways.
First, being a leader means knowing what matters and why. It is not enough to just read research; the librarian needs to share and act on research. This can be accomplished by co-teaching and collaboration. Evidence shows that learning experience increased when classroom teachers and librarians co-taught students. As the librarian co-teaches, it is important to document student learning. Later this evidence can be used to showcase achievement within your program using photos, anecdotes, videos, and even graphs and charts.

Being a leader at a school also means knowing what matters to your principal and why. Determine what similar goals you have, and then build on them using your strengths. Keeping your finger on the pulse of the school can help. Listen to your principal (and other admins) and ask the right questions. Librarians, after all, are “all about matching people with great resources” (Roots Lewis, 2016). So whether it’s bullying, test scores, poverty, attendance, or any other topic, find articles, video, research, studies, and other relatable information and share them.

Always be careful to ferret out gems, because you don’t want to deluge busy admins. In fact, never go unprepared with only problems. Always come bearing possible solutions and an “openness to work out a better solution together” (Roots Lewis, 2016).

And remember to highlight your best practices. According to the late Donald Clifton, who studied leadership for decades, “What great leaders have in common is that each truly knows his or her strengths…and can call on that strength at the right time” (Roots Lewis, 2016). Documenting evidence of learning and providing snapshots of your program in regular intervals are best. This serves not only as a communication tool but an advocacy tool as well.

This author cited a number of other articles and sites to assist in documentation and advocacy including Evolving with Evidence by J. Valenza in Knowledge Quest 43(3), 36-43.

Relationships Between the Perceived Value of Instructional Techniques and Academic Motivation

Relationships Between the Perceived Value of Instructional Techniques and Academic Motivation

Elias, Jenann


Komarraju, M., & Karau, S. J. (2008). Relationships Between the Perceived Value of
Instructional Techniques and Academic Motivation. Journal Of Instructional
Psychology, 35(1), 70-82.

In this article, the authors discuss the relationships between the perceived value of instructional techniques, including technology enhancements like course material websites (lecture notes, review sheets, grades, sample tests), and the student motivation and learning.

The authors propose that instructional techniques do not impact all students equally. Research prior to this paper has been on the relative effectiveness of different instructional techniques. This assumes that these techniques are perceived equally by all students.

All 172 subjects, students in this case who were enrolled in psychology or business classes. Most had easy access to a computer. The subjects were questioned on their perception of different instructional techniques. All the courses had an online presence including lecture notes, review sheets, grades, sample tests, and links to articles). They stated the perceived value of course websites, active learning, and traditional lectures. The subjects were asked to fill an Academic Motivations Inventory (AMI) that consists of 90 items and includes 16 dimensions of academic motivation.

About 93% of the students reported that they find the course websites useful. The interesting part was that when the 16 dimensions of the AMI and the three instructional strategies (website usage, active learning, and traditional lecture) were correlated, some statistically significant correlations emerged. In layman’s terms, “one size does NOT fit all.”

The authors state that “The results of our study clearly suggest that various teaching techniques are significantly associated with distinct aspects of students’ academic motivation.” Three profiles of academic motivation emerged, they were engagement, avoidance, and achievement motivation, each associated with unique learning preferences.

From a teaching perspective, engaged students are ideal for learning. These students desire self-improvement and will respond to the widest spectrum of teaching techniques. Avoidant students worry about their performance and grades and are more likely to dislike school and experience stress. They present a challenge to the teacher. Achievement motivated students placed a high value on traditional lectures as well as course websites and online learning.

It is surprising that the questions that the authors, Meera Komarraju and Steven J. Karau, raise here have not been asked before. From my own experience in the field of education (both as a student and as a teacher), I find that not all students react the same way to a presentation, whether in class on online. I am glad that they addressed this point in this paper. My observation is that further study is needed, and with much more refined statistics. The authors acknowledge that there were some internal inconsistencies. It will be interesting to hear the experiences of teacher-librarians and other information professionals working in these situations.

We Got it from here….thank you 4 your service

Audrey Kelly

Emdin, Christopher. “Christopher Emdin SXSWedu 2017 Keynote.” SXSWedu Keynote Address. Texas, Austin. 6 Mar. 2017. YouTube. Web. 21 Mar. 2017. .

The Columbia Teachers College Professor of Science Education and author of For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood– and the Rest of Y’all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education, Christopher Emdin offers the keynote address at SXSWedu, the conference for educators.  His energetic and electrifying speech amplifies his agenda of producing teachers who are willing and able to meet and teach students where they are. More importantly, he wants the educational system, and those individuals in it, to stop doing violence to black and brown bodies by denying culture and reality in the school setting.  He exhorts the crowd, who recognizes as friends, enemies, and frenemies, to acknowledge the failures of the US public education system that continue to suppress, repress and oppress student voice.

He states that his friends believe that the idea that education is the civil rights issue of our time and that we must talk about equity and diversity and understanding to reach students.  
He names ‘enemies’ as those who out to sell product or technology or their own agenda to schools, or make money off schools as enemies, ‘frenemies’ as those who can quote the big
educational theorists but do not have positive approaches to learning and students. And, he reaches out to the believers and who, despite good intentions, end up being enemies due to their complicity in the institutions that do not value specific groups of people.

Emdin chose the lens of the recent Tribe Called Quest album, titled “We Got it from here… thank you 4 your service” to share his message with the audience, quoting lyrics and inserting his own rhymes, to call upon educators to attempt to understand urban culture, develop teachers from within the urban community, and create curriculum that is integrated and draws from the culture of the students.  

I own the Tribe Called Quest album and have long been a fan of their music, so I could certainly relate to the message of the keynote speech.   I consider hip-hop to be an accessible genre, and one that connects people regardless of their background, though I guess some would disagree. My thoughts also turned to the ideas around how we communicate and how we relate to the ‘mother tongue’, that is, the language we first learned from our mothers.  I think I felt a connection in that regard, too, having been raised by New Yorkers, who sounded very much like Emdin to me.

A Strategy Session With Some of Education’s Top Thinkers

Williams, Susan


Ryan, J. E., Selingo, J., Christakis, N., Gasman, M., Levy, H., Krislov, M., … Weingarten, R. (2016, June 22). A strategy session with some of education’s top thinkers. Retrieved from

This is an article of big ideas, featuring 15 perspectives from top education thinkers.  Topics include:

The importance of social emotional learning; balancing diversity and freedom of expression; the status of a liberal arts and vocational education programs in light of the intense STEM push; income and opportunity inequalities and balancing technology use. Offers useful names to attach to ideas for further research and highlights trends.

7 Things You Should Know About a Flipped Classroom

Boyer, Allison
7 things you should know about a flipped classroom. (2012). Educause. Retrieved from
Summary: This is more of a brochure set-up, but it still offers a lot of information in a short space.  Educause released this to detail 7 important facts about a flipped classroom, which is when the instruction and the the homework is reversed.  With this method of instruction, the teacher (and/or teacher librarian) prepares video lectures (either original or compiled from other sources) for students to view on their own.  This way, classroom time is devoted to hand-on, practical, active learning activities.  With this, students are responsible for their own learning.

Review: While this isn’t exactly an article, this brochure gives an excellent and quick debriefing on flipped classrooms.  The seven points are clearly defined and explained.  The layout makes it easy and quick to read.  The scenario they use as an example is also beneficial to understanding the idea of a flipped classroom.  It gives a “real life” example of how to use this method of instruction. The 7 facts contain both the positives and downsides to flipped classroom, which gives a fair representation.

Short and good article

Rycik, J. A. (2015). 21stcenury skills in secondary schools. American Secondary Education, 43(2), 2-3.
Rycik identifies and spells out a brief summation of the skills needed in the 21st century. He lists a set of earning areas and then summarizes what is being done in research in these areas.
This article is short and sweet—and very informative. Published in 2015, it is right on the leading edge of pedagogical theory.