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Deep learning and habits of mind

There is one difference in the way successful and less successful learners approach their studies.

Successful learners are ‘deep’ learners and less successful learners tend to be ‘surface’ learners. Deep learners are motivated to understand and interrogate information and try to make sense of everything. Surface learners don’t strive so hard for meaning, they tend to try and learn things off by heart.

As you progress in your studies, your assessments will require you to take a deeper approach to learning so you can challenge and critique ideas. Employers are also demanding graduates with deep learning attributes as they accept challenges, are open to learning, and consider new ideas.

Deep learners:

  • Try to make connections with related topics
  • Relate previous knowledge to new knowledge
  • Reflect on what they learn to relate theory to experience
  • Try to develop their own understanding and meaning of new ideas

Which leads to positive emotions and attitudes about learning.

Surface learners:

  • Focus on unrelated details
  • Simply memorise information to remember things
  • Accept new knowledge without reflecting on what it actually means
  • Rarely challenge or critique new knowledge and information
  • Focus simply on passing a course

Which leads to negative emotions and attitudes about learning.

Develop your deep learning abilities

Deep learners tend to:

They are open to new ideas and are constantly learning from their experiences.

Deep learners are likely to practice the 16 habits of mind which according to Costa and Kallick (2009) helps us to become better learners.

View the 16 habits of mind infographic. You will need to practice these everyday if you want to make them habits.

Pause to reflect

  • Looking at the 16 habits of mind, what simple changes can you implement to make you a better learner?
  • Do you know a ‘deep learner’? If so, what habits or learning routines do they have in place?