‘Deep learning’ more important than 4.0

Every student has the same goal in mind when he or she enters the college classroom: to finish the class with a 4.0. Nothing defines success in a course quite like earning an A.

As college courses continue to evolve to incorporate newer technology and different learning styles, however, some are becoming concerned students are not learning the necessary skills to function in the workplace, such as analyzing elements of an idea and applying it to new contexts. Any student can memorize information for an exam, but the real question is whether or not they can use the information they have been provided with and apply it in real-life situations.

This type of education, known as the “deep approach” to learning, is something many professors are attempting to include in their class content. For example, this could be as simple as asking students in a history course why a tragic event happened and what can be done to keep it from happening again, instead of just asking when an event occurred.

Editorial Board

Andrew Krietz
Katie Harrington
Alex McClung
Samantha Radecki
Omari Sankofa II

To truly figure out what students are learning from courses, professors and universities should ditch standardized tests and instead expose students to courses and assignments requiring them to analyze information and apply it in new situations, reflect on what they know and what they still need to learn and dissect conflicting arguments.

The National Survey of Student Engagement, which was released last Thursday, analyzed students’ deep-learning skills. The survey asked students to describe how often — either very much, quite a bit or very little — during their current academic year they had analyzed the basic elements of an idea or judged the value of an argument and applied concepts to new contexts.

The survey found that those who reported having participated in deep-learning assignments did so at twice the level of the bottom quartile. And those who said they commonly participated in deep-learning assignments had better study behavior, often saying they spent about five more hours per week preparing for class than those who did not participate in deep learning.

Engaging in deep learning does not necessarily mean a student will do better in a course as far as grades are concerned, but it will better prepare them for when they enter the real world and are faced with real problems.

A university easily assesses how well its students are doing by viewing GPAs and course grades, but it’s difficult for them to prove how much a student actually has learned.

Professors should incorporate more deep-learning assignments for students if they truly want them to get the most out of their college educations.

Critical thinking and analyzing are skills every college student should graduate with, and deep learning bolsters both. Many professors already have asked their students to dive deeper into problems and arguments, but more should include it in their curriculums.

A college transcript does not accurately reflect what a student has learned, regardless of the courses he or she might have taken.

To ensure success in graduating students, these deep-learning skills are essential in order for a student to be successful in a professional setting.

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