By Jen Rinehart
Last week the National Research Council released a report highlighting the importance of “deeper learning.” The report, Education for Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century, was supported by Carnegie Corporation of New York, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, the Pearson Foundation, the Raikes Foundation, Susan Crown Exchange, and the Stupski Foundation.
The report validates an educational approach called “deeper learning,” which occurs as students acquire the ability to take the knowledge and skills they learn in one situation and apply it to a new situation. This process of transferring knowledge from one situation to another develops students’ “21st century competencies,” or transferable knowledge and skills. The report highlights three domains of knowledge and skills—cognitive, intrapersonal and interpersonal—and discusses their influence on positive outcomes in the areas of education, work and health.
- The cognitive domain, which includes critical thinking, problem solving, reasoning and innovation.
- The intrapersonal domain, which includes skills such as metacognition (the ability to reflect on one’s own learning and make adjustments accordingly), flexibility, self-direction and conscientiousness.
- The interpersonal domain, which includes such skills as communication and collaboration.
Finally, the report urges states and the federal government to establish policies and programs in support of deeper learning and encourages policy makers to focus their attention on the key areas of assessment, accountability, curriculum and materials, and teacher education. According to the report—and what the education community has observed over the years—assessments will be key given that so much of current education policy and practice is driven by assessment.
Afterschool has much to offer in providing opportunities for deeper learning—hopefully policy makers will recognize the importance of deeper learning and the integral role afterschool plays in implementing this approach.