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:
In contrast, surface approach has many disadvantages. Some of these disadvantages can be summarized in five main ways. First, the students who follow this route of learning can not demonstrate the new ideas learnt thoroughly, neither can they relate them with other fields (Ramsden, 2003). Second, it directs the student to be a dependent learner. For instance, if a chemistry instructor asked his students to prove an experiment practically, then the surface learners will depend on their peers’ idea to verify the experiment. If they do not, then they will easily give up and this can be considered as a third disadvantage. The forth disadvantage is that it makes them easily ignore the points that they do not understand. As in the first example, those students neglect and forget about the ideas that were not helpful in doing their experiment. Finally, it brings the learner to forget the knowledge learnt easily and fast (Johansson, n.d). Advantages of deep approach:
The expression of the word deep means “being a long way down from the top or surface to the bottom” (Cambridge, 2009). So, deep learners are the students who search for the full of meaning of the subjects they learn by following strategic ways to achieve that. Deep learners, unlike surface learner, use memorization when necessary but not always. There are many advantages related to deep approach. First of all, deep approach encourages the students to become more interested in their subjects and to have the curiosity to learn further. The second is that it assists the students to predict new information by analyzing recent ideas and connecting them with their prior experience and with other fields, as a result forming a complete image of the task required (Chin, 2000). Thirdly, it enables the students to have high quality outcomes in higher education (Johansson, n.d.). The last is that it encourages the students to be independent learners (Entwistle, 1990).
Disadvantages of deep approach:
However, there is only one...