One of the common responses when it is suggested that faculty design their courses for deeper learning is, “I will, but they need the basic information first.” While this may seem to be a reasonable response given the fact that many students arrive with little prior knowledge in the field it is an untenable position. Information is important, but situation and context and relevant problems that allow student to make meaning of the content they are studying. The questions that should focus learning in survey or introduction courses is “How do we make sense of this?” In advanced course, the focus becomes “How do we extend this?”
Educators who raise this objection often point to Bloom’s Taxonomy as evidence that student must have a solid understanding of the basics first. That is an inaccurate interpretation of Bloom’s ideas which were proposed as a theory of learning rather than a theory of teaching. Further, there is some evidence that students perform as well when they have deeper understanding as when the learn for immediate grades.