Approaches to learning are defined as “the ways in which students go about their academic tasks, thereby affecting the nature of the learning outcome” (Biggs, 1994 cited in Chin, 2000, p.110). However, the idea of classifying student’s approaches to learning began since Marton and Saljo’s research in 1979 (Ramsden, 2003). The research attempted to find an appropriate answer for the various outcomes in higher education. It utilized a questionnaire based on an academic text, gathering some students, asking them to read the text then answer the questionnaire. Two distinctive groups were formed: students with high levels of understanding and perfect answers, named deep approach learners, and another with lower level, referred to as surface approach learners (Ramsden, 2003). Later, another approach was discovered and named as the strategic approach to learning (Chin, 2000). This essay recommends the deep approach to learning to be followed as a key of success in higher education, arguing particularly about the advantages and disadvantages of both deep and surface approaches to learning.
Advantages of surface approach:
The expression of the word surface means “the top layer of something” (Cambridge, 2009). Students who are surface learners are characterized by mechanical memorization (Chin, 2000), which stands for memorizing facts without understanding their objectives. These students learn only to pass exams or to meet a demand. Surface approach has only a lone advantage which can only benefit some students and not all. It is applicable particularly for the students who work while they are studying or who suffer from work loads such as preparing for academic assignments and doing extensive homework. This can fulfill their need of acquiring a time saving approach that enables them to succeed in their studies.
Disadvantages of surface approach: