Fostering Deep Learning, Engagement, and Critical Thinking

Three student-faculty teams will share their perspectives and experiences that address the components of the conference theme: fostering deep learning, engagement, and critical thinking. The Faculty of Science team will explore reflective practice for deep learning. Reflective practices lead us to recognize our own deep learning experiences. We can then foster such experiences in our students by examining what we find to be most meaningful, and then using ongoing communication to know how students view and use these ideas. The team will discuss strategies for fostering deep learning in a second-year organic chemistry course: scaffolding class content around student work, and using worksheets to frame a cycle of practice and feedback. The Faculty of Medicine team will investigate six “high-impact” practices have been defined and positively linked with student learning, retention and engagement. These include learning within a community of learners, engaging in research with faculty mentors, international experiences and culminating capstone experiences. The team will discuss how these ‘high-impact’ practices have been integrated within and facilitated by the Bachelor of Health Sciences program and share their impact from the student perspective. The team will also suggest ways in which these approaches can be incorporated across a diverse array of disciplines. The School of Creative and Performing Arts team will explore the critical thinking aspect of designing for learning. What exactly is critical thinking? Universities uniformly promote the idea that they must turn students into “critical thinkers.” What does that mean? Are we currently experiencing a shortage of critical thinkers that we must address? Are governments, not for-profits and businesses clamoring for more critical thinkers? Do parents dream of raising critical thinkers? The team will explore the value of critical thinking and ask how best to address its position in academic pedagogy.