is that students often spend time practicing incorrect skills with little or no feedback. Furthermore, the feedback they ultimately receive is often neither timely nor informative. For the less able student, unguided practice (e.g., homework in math) can be practice in doing tasks incorrectly.

The timing and quality of feedback influences its effectiveness in speeding acquisition of skills or knowledge (Pashler et al., 2005; Shute, 2008). The optimal timing of feedback appears to differ depending on the type and complexity of the learning task and the characteristics of the learner. For example, immediate feedback can quickly prevent further incorrect practice, but it also has potential limitations, including posing a threat to motivation and reducing opportunities for learners to correct their own errors and develop self-regulated learning skills. There is growing evidence that feedback that explains why the practice is incorrect is more valuable for learning than feedback that simply flags errors (Roscoe and Chi, 2007; Shute, 2008; National Research Council, 2011a). The value of explanatory feedback has been demonstrated through research conducted in both digital and nondigital learning environments. For example, Moreno and Mayer (2005) compared two different versions of an interactive science learning game in which students traveled to different planets with different environmental conditions and were asked to design a plant that could survive in these conditions. The authors found that students who received explanatory feedback performed significantly better than did students who received only corrective feedback on a test designed to measure both retention of the targeted botany concepts and transfer of these concepts to new problems of plant design based on the same general principles.

The Nature of Deeper Learning

The review of research thus far in this chapter allows us to more clearly describe the nature of deeper learning. First, the history of research on transfer suggests that there are limits to how far the knowledge and skills developed through deeper learning can transfer. Transfer is possible within subject area or domain of knowledge, when effective instructional methods are used. Second, the research on expertise suggests that deeper learning involves the development of well-organized knowledge in a domain that can be readily retrieved to apply (transfer) to new problems in that domain. Third, the research suggests that deeper learning requires extensive practice, aided by explanatory feedback that helps learners correct errors and practice correct procedures, and that multimedia learning environments can provide such feedback. Fourth, the work of the gestalt psychologists discussed above allows us to distinguish between rote learning and meaningful learning (or deeper learning). Meaningful learning (which develops deeper



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement