We use robust learning to refer to an outcome, that is, a desirable result of instruction that goes beyond better achievement on the typical "normal post-test" that immediately follows instruction and uses questions or tasks of same form as those used in instruction. Robust learning is learning that achieves either or both better sense making through deep conceptual understanding and fast and accurate procedural fluency. Sometimes instructional objectives of a course may put more emphasis on one or the other of understanding and fluency, but often both are desirable.
Learning is robust if the acquired knowledge or skill meets at least one of the following three criteria:
• Long-term retention: It is retained for long periods of time, at least for days and even for years.
• Transfer: It transfers, that is, it can be used in situations that differ significantly from the situations present during instruction.
• Accelerated future learning: It accelerates future learning. That is, when related instruction is presented in the future, the acquired knowledge allows students to learn more quickly and/or more effectively.
Instruction that achieves robust learning is designed so that the learning event space has some target paths that would cause an ideal student to acquire knowledge components that have either or both high feature validity, that is, they are accurate, deep, and general, and high strength, that is, they can be applied quickly and effortlessly.
See also the PSLC theoretical framework description, for instance, in the 2006 annual report or strategic plan.