Strategic Versus Deep Learning

This week’s major concept is about teaching and learning, a subject you all are very familiar with at the moment. A conceptual framework about learning that I used in my doctoral thesis, called students approaches to learning (SAL), identified students take either deep or surface approaches. Surface learning motivation was to meet minimal requirements and not fail. Deep learning was motivated by an internal interest in the subject and a desire to develop competence. Later studies identified another approach to learning as strategic, where students would switch between deep and surface approaches, in order to obtain the highest grades (Donnen & Hecker, 2008). Current research with cognitive learning theories acknowledges the role the brain plays in learning by building neural pathways to memories. The more times a pathway is triggered, the easier it is to recall information, which is important in how student’s study. Deep learning approaches require the student to make meaning of new information by connecting with previous knowledge. An example of this for me would be the three years of Spanish language classes, which made me proficient at the time and for the tests, but lacking recurrent use and connection to experience I remember very little. The bottom line is that learning is a complex process that takes time and affected by a variety of factors. It is important to recognize that in the long run, deep approaches to learning have been associated with higher GPA’s. (Donnen & Hecker, 2008).

Donnen, T., & Hecker, K. (2008). A model of approaches to learning and academic achievement of students from an inquiry based bachelor of health sciences program. Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 38(1), 1-19.

QUESTION: Describe a class in which you were a strategic learner in order to pass a test but did not come away from the class with a deep learning experience.


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