Components of Deeper Learning

Researchers have characterized the suite of knowledge and abilities that are used in the process of deeper learning in various ways. For example, when Anderson et al. (2001) updated Bloom’s 1956 taxonomy of learning objectives, they included three types of knowledge and skills: (1) knowledge (e.g., facts and concepts); (2) skills (e.g., procedures and strategies); and (3) attitudes (e.g., beliefs). In Chapter 2, we proposed that knowledge and skills can be divided into three broad domains of competence: cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal.

Mayer (2011a) suggested that deeper learning involves developing an interconnected network of five types of knowledge:

  • Facts, statements about the characteristics or relationships of elements in the universe;
  • Concepts, which are categories, schemas, models, or principals;
  • Procedures, or step-by-step processes;
  • Strategies, general methods; and
  • Beliefs about one’s own learning.

Earlier in this chapter, we noted that mentally organizing knowledge helps an individual to quickly identify and retrieve the relevant knowledge when trying to solve a novel problem (i.e., when trying to transfer the knowledge). In light of these research findings, Mayer (2010) proposed that the way in which a learner organizes these five types of knowledge influences whether the knowledge leads to deeper learning and transfer. For example, factual knowledge is more likely to transfer if it is integrated, rather than existing as isolated bits of information, and conceptual knowledge is more likely to transfer if it is mentally organized around schemas, models, or general principles. As the research on expertise and the power law of practice would indicate, procedures that have been practiced until they become automatic and embedded within long-term memory are more readily transferred to new problems than those that require much thought and effort. In addition, specific cognitive and metacognitive strategies (discussed later in this chapter) promote transfer. Finally, development of transferable 21st century skills is more likely if the learner has productive beliefs about his or her ability to learn and about the value of learning—a topic we return to later, in the section on the intrapersonal domain.

Table 4-2 outlines the cognitive processing of the five types of integrated knowledge and dispositions that, working closely together, support deeper learning and transfer.

Deeper learning involves coordinating all five types of knowledge. The learner acquires an interconnected network of specific facts, automates

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