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Deeper Learning Digest: Soft Skills Are Deeper Learning Skills

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December 12, 2014 01:25 pm


The ‘Deeper Learning Digest’ is a bi-weekly roundup of articles, blog posts, and other content around deeper learning. Make sure to add High School Soup to your RSS feed to stay up-to-date on all deeper learning news. Please be sure to follow @deeperlearning on Twitter for more on deeper learning.

A student’s ability to display a deep understanding of academic skills is important, but what about that same student’s development of ‘soft’ skills? The way a young person communicates, interacts, and collaborates in an academic or workplace setting are increasingly important. Laura S. Hamilton, a senior behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation and Brian M. Stecher, associate director of RAND Education point out that these skills which are growing in importance go largely unmeasured in schools. Hamilton and Stecher call for research to develop better measures these competencies. Learning Deeply

A new report from the Jobs for the Future Students at the Center  initiative offers evidence of the ways digital tools in the classroom can support deeper learning.  Rafael Heller, a principal policy analyst at Jobs for the Future, writes that the report, authored by Christopher Dede, shows that technology has not previously supported innovation in the classroom, but rather heloped teachers to the “same old, ineffective things more efficiently.” Still, Heller adds, “When developers have been careful to ground their work in principles of effective instruction… technology-based instruction has shown significant, positive effects on student learning.” Learning Deeply

“How do we track, assess and report Habits of Success most effectively so that we can support each student’s development?” That question posed by Adam Carter, the academics team lead for Summit Public Schools goes beyond students acquiring content knowledge and cognitive skills. “Habits of Success,” or non-cognitive skills, include invaluable skills for success, says Carter. A student’s ability to obtain and hone those skills is crucial to a full comprehensive of deeper learning.

Carter writes, “I believe that the most promising answer to the question of how to effectively track, assess, and report Habits of Success in order to support individual students at scale lies in understanding the existing evidence of student self-directed behaviors.” Learning Deeply

‘As students work their way through school, they may be memorizing information in each grade level, but are they really learning?’ Or are they squandering the information they learn never to actually apply it to any real world scenarios. A recent article from neaToday titled, “Deeper Learning: Moving Students Beyond Memorization,” asks readers to imagine if students used what they learned and applied it to real-life problem-solving. Moving beyond textbook repetition allows students to engage in personalized, more deeper styles of learning,

States and school districts are in search of ways to drive and assess deeper learning that goes beyond the tradition multiple-choice assessment. As the structure of academic curriculum grows to ensure students graduate with higher level skills, some scholars argue that student evaluation is a better tactic, pushing students to learn by doing. And at Impact Academy of Arts and Technology in Hayward, CA students have already got a handle of this education model. At Impact, seniors present portfolio projects to teachers, peers, and community member in order to demonstrate they’ve successfully earned the skills need to graduate.


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