Creating environments for deep learning

Creating environments for deep learning

08 Sep. 2017

“This campus-wide initiative helps students to discover how to learn more deeply,” said LDSBC President Bruce C. Kusch. “One pattern for deep learning, called subject matter immersion (SMI), creates an environment in which the student is immersed, covered and surrounded by the course content rather than merely being presented with it by the instructor. Assignments revolve around real-life challenges, including tasks they will face in the workplace. Students are responsible for defining how they demonstrate subject mastery, thus improving their leadership and problem-solving capabilities.”

“In a current research study conducted at LDSBC, the initial review of SMI focus group transcripts indicate higher student motivation, more engagement in the learning experience, a greater acceptance of responsibility and more satisfaction with learning outcomes when related to the control group,” said Laura Zemp, director of institutional research at LDSBC. “The fruits of deep learning include confidence, capability and competence.”

According to Leslie Robbins, English instructor and chair of the Learning and Teaching Council at LDS Business College, “This experience will forever change the way I approach teaching and learning. Students created order from chaos as they demonstrated capabilities needed for life. Instead of talking about case studies, we were the case study and this was real life. Watching these students immerse themselves in the center of learning changed not only them, it changed me as a teacher.”

“The SMI climate should feel different than traditional learning environments,” said Robbins. “SMI moves beyond classroom activities and assignments by providing a climate where students are placed outside their comfort zone, encouraged to accept responsibility for their own learning and grapple with ambiguous challenges.”

“I’ve been spoon-fed for 15 years,” said one student, reminiscing about his elementary and secondary education and courses taken at two other universities. “I’d rather have an experience like this where I am allowed to run, to learn who I am, what I can do, what everyone else can do, and to see capability in other people. It has been the best three months of my life.”

“Students want to take more responsibility for their own learning,” said Zemp. “Such responsibility aligns with the spiritual concept of acting and not being acted upon. What happens in much of education acts upon the students rather than making them actors in their own learning. As students become more anxiously engaged in their own learning, they will learn more deeply. Focusing on the learning process rather than content allows students to learn independently and grow beyond the classroom.”



Here are some students, in August 2017, talking about their experience with subject matter immersion at LDS Business College: