measure what a student has learned up to a particular point in time (National Research Council, 2001; Shepard, 2005; Heritage, 2010). Deeper learning is enhanced when formative assessment is used to: (1) make learning goals clear to students; (2) continuously monitor, provide feedback, and respond to students’ learning progress; and (3) involve students in self- and peer assessment. These uses of formative assessment are grounded in research showing that practice is essential for deeper learning and skill development but that practice without feedback yields little learning (Thorndike, 1927; see also Chapter 4).

Research on each of the six major instructional approaches to teaching for transfer discussed above helps to pinpoint the boundary conditions for each instructional method, including for whom, for which learning contexts, and for which instructional objectives.

Promoting Deeper Learning Through Problem-Based Learning: An Example

One curriculum model that incorporates several of the methods described above is problem-based learning (PBL). PBL approaches represent learning tasks in the form of rich extended problems that, if carefully designed and implemented, can engage learners in challenging tasks (problems) while providing guidance and feedback. They can encourage elaboration, questioning, and self-explanation and can prime motivation by presenting problems that are relevant and interesting to the learners. While a variety of different approaches to PBL have been developed, such instruction often follows six key principles (Barrows, 1996):

  1. Student-centered learning
  2. Small groups
  3. Tutor as a facilitator or guide
  4. Problems first
  5. The problem is the tool to achieve knowledge and problem-solving skills
  6. Self-directed learning

Two recent meta-analyses of the research on interventions following these principles suggest that PBL approaches can support deeper learning and transfer. Gijbels et al. (2005) focused on empirical studies that compared PBL with lecture-based instruction in higher education in Europe (with most of the studies coming from medical education). The meta-analysis identified no significant difference in the understanding of concepts between students engaged in PBL and those receiving lecture-based instruction. However, students in the PBL environments demonstrated

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