Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Achieving deep learning

I believe that learning requires deep understanding that can only come when students understand the concept and principles and actively apply knowledge in creative and meaningful ways. Therefore, the goal of my lectures is generally to acquaint students with the fundamental and applied aspects of physicochemical properties of food systems. My priority is to ensure proper and clear understanding of the concepts, principles and the underlying mechanisms of a process or phenomenon. This is in line with a quote from the great Physicist Albert Einstein: ‘I do not burden my memory with simple facts that can be looked at in text books, but the true purpose of education is to train the mind to think, for that purpose it is priceless’. Thus, I spend more time on explaining these aspects in the classroom. Typically, before delivering a new concept to students, I articulate the background information, and ask them to find out the solution. Then I introduce the theory I wanted to communicate. This approach creates curiosity to learn about the concept. 

The approach in presenting the material in the class is of utmost important to achieve this objective. I try to convey the importance of a thorough understanding of basic concepts and principles, rather than memorizing facts, equations, and numbers. Whenever possible, I try to present the intuitive non-mathematical description that accompanies the mathematical one. The goal is to reinforce this association so that it might be useful when the student re-encounters the problem later in his/her career. It helps the student to achieve deep learning and also stimulate them to look for other approaches for that task.

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