6 Ways Deans Can Encourage Deep Work for Students

deep work and deep learning for college

Cal Newport defines deep work as focused success. Today, students are overwhelmed with distractions. Still, the ability to focus on an intellectually demanding task without distraction is becoming a rare skill. Deans can utilize these deep work methods to encourage college success for their students.


Create a Course Promoting Deep Work

First, teach faculty, staff, and students the difference between busy and deep work tasks. Create courses that identify shallow work practices. Bouncing around inboxes, social media sites, and LMS are shallow work tasks. Schools that create courses that teach students how to identify shallow work tasks will promote an understanding of deep learning. 


Help Cultivate Habits, Routines, and Rituals

Likewise, rituals and routines are powerful ways to develop good habits. Campus rituals provide structure in which deep work flourishes. Leaders can promote rituals by relying on campus and department traditions. These traditions can inspire students to add their names and work to the legacy wall of fame. Also, college administrators can set aside time for faculty to work with students to develop individual productivity plans. Moreover, faculty can weave time management best practices into courses. Teaching students how to produce and scheduled time-blocking to complete coursework helps to encourage deep work.


Revise College Scheduling and Policies for Deep Work 

Also, deans can promote the  best practices by pushing policy changes that promote deep learning. Deep work requires both large meeting spaces and small individual rooms. Deans can follow deep work practices to set up standard meeting room appointment blocks that mirror best practices. Reflection is key to deep work. Yet, being with others often spurs insight.


Encourage Downtime to Support Deep Work   

Still, downtime improves the quality of thinking for deep work. Long hours and being on alert are not restful; it is stressful.  Students struggle enough to balance work, family, and school demands. Deans can advocate for safe green spaces on campus. They can design walking and nature trails on campus. Teaching staff can include assignments that encourage students to let their minds rest and reset.


Decrease Digital Distractions and Offer Offline Activities

Besides that, deans can promote offline entertainment options for students. Leaders can urge students to be involved in distraction-free non-digital activities. Still, a robust activity calendar can help students recharge. Also, deans can promote policy that decreases digital distractions. A good policy can limit the distractions of texts and inboxes from non-essential sources. Besides that, an effective policy can create a one-stop go-to spot for student communication and work.


Invest in Grand Gestures

As well, deans can promote grand gestures. These big deal events like Code Weeks and Hack Fests change up the routine to encourage deep work. Colleges should invest in these events just to shake things loose. Besides that, grand gestures can attract new recruits. Grand gestures encourage deep learning as it forces folks to adapt and play along.


In sum, deans can inspire deep work in students.  Leaders can train faculty and students to adopt habits that promote deep work. Deans can rely on traditions to provide a ritualistic structure needed to shift the campus to a deep learning culture. Also, deans can redesign both policy and buildings to integrate deep work best practices.


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