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Explore Active Learning Strategies with TEACHxpert Derek Bruff

Are you curious about how to frame class discussion to to get students truly engaged in your class? Would you like to give students more autonomy in their assessments?

Join us on April 25 for the fourth guest speaker in the TEACHxperts series, created to capitalize on the creativity of the TEACHx one-day conference. The day will include two talks by Derek Bruff, director of the Vanderbilt University’s Center for Teaching and a senior lecturer in the Vanderbilt Department of Mathematics. He oversees the center’s programming, helping them develop foundational teaching skills and explore new ideas in teaching and learning.

Dr. Bruff will lead an exploration of the idea of “students as producers.” This approach encourages rethinking one’s teaching, possibly providing more authentic learning activities or other types of student-centric assessments. Bruff will also hold a workshop about how to write effective discussion questions and how to facilitate more engaging discussions in class and online.

Register for one of his sessions now!

Follow Bruff on Twitter and learn more at his Agile Learning blog on teaching and technology.

And remember to register for TEACHx 2017, a one-day conference showcasing teaching and learning innovation. It will be held on May 19, 2017, here at Northwestern.

Image credit: from TEACHx 2016


Posted by Lynd Bacon on

“Deep Learning” is an unfortunate teaser line. It usually refers to AI and machine learning.

Posted by Jeanne Kerl on

Thanks so much for your comment, Lynd. We’re sorry this was confusing and we appreciate you bringing this to our attention. The term “deep learning” is starting to be used in writing about pedagogy to mean something quite different from your usage–for us it means “learning that goes much deeper.” I can definitely see why this is confusing and I appreciate you pointing this out to us.

Thank you,

Jeanne Kerl

Posted by Marina Micari, Searle Center for Advancing Learning & Teaching on

Hi Lynd – I second Jeanne’s note: This is a great question, because the term *deep learning* is used in at least two distinct ways. In mathematics and computer science, deep learning refers to a type of machine learning algorithm. But the concept of deep learning in the teaching-and-learning world comes out of research in the late 1970s, by Ference Marton and Roger Säljö, into the variation in the approaches different students adopted when reading articles for an academic purpose. In that research, some students read looking for discrete pieces of information and attempted to commit them to memory, whereas other students looked for underlying concepts or principles that integrated various pieces of information, and attempted to make meaning of these even beyond what was in the paper. The first approach was termed surface learning, and the second deep learning. A large body of subsequent research has investigated these approaches and their associated learning outcomes, students’ motivations for taking one over the other, and teacher practices that encourage one over the other. There is now a great deal of evidence that more learner-centered, active teaching approaches can prompt students to take deeper approaches to learning, and in turn enhance the quality of their learning. There has been some criticism of the deep‒surface dichotomy for its simplicity (and in fact a third, strategic, approach has also been investigated), but taken in the context of a more holistic understanding of students’ learning experiences, the model has proven to be a highly practical tool for helping both students and teachers achieve meaningful learning.

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