In formal education, realizing the vision of deeper, transferable knowledge for all students will require complementary changes across the many elements that make up the public education system. These elements include curriculum, instruction, assessment, and teacher preparation and professional development.

While this report provides preliminary definitions of the kinds of transferable competencies that are valuable and offers general guidelines for use in designing instruction to develop these competencies, further research and development are needed to create more specific instructional materials and strategies—the curriculum. Future curricula inspired by our vision of deeper learning should integrate learning across the cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal domains in whatever ways are appropriate for the targeted learning goals. For example, when targeting cognitive knowledge and thinking strategies, curricula should integrate development of the intrapersonal skills of metacognition, self-efficacy, and positive attitudes toward learning that have been shown to enhance deeper learning in the cognitive domain.

Reflecting our findings about the development of competencies across different ages and stages of development, curricula designed to support the process of deeper learning should incorporate a developmental perspective. They should be offered beginning in preschool and provide repeated opportunities across grade levels and domains (cognitive, intrapersonal, interpersonal) for students to develop and practice transferable competencies.

Teacher Preparation and Professional Development

Current systems of teacher preparation and professional development will require major changes if they are to support teaching that encourages deeper learning and the development of transferable competencies. Changes will need to be made not only in conceptions of what constitutes effective professional practice but also in the purposes, structure, and organization of preservice and professional learning opportunities (Garrick and Rhodes, 2000; Darling-Hammond, 2006; Webster-Wright, 2009; Lampert, 2010).

Ball and Cohen (1999) have called for such major changes, proposing a practice-based theory of professional education that would enable teachers to “support much deeper and more complex learning for their students” (p. 7). The authors identified several types of knowledge and skills teachers would require for such instruction, including:

  • understanding of subject matter;
  • knowledge of both students’ common ideas and misconceptions related to the subject matter and also the thinking of individual students;

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