Strategic Model for Learning

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In this overview of the topic, I will start by examining the origins of the deep, surface, and strategic approaches to learning in higher education, and the elements that make these approaches distinct from each other. There has been a significant amount of research on the concept of ‘approaches to learning’ especially in higher education. By utilising this research, I will explore the strengths and ‘usefulness’ of these concepts in understanding how students learn and address the implications arising from them. I will also include insights from my own personal experience of education prior to beginning University according to each approach.
Research over the past 25 years has been directed at understanding the ways in which students go
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These students are motivated by their intrinsic curiosity for the subject. Most importantly, it was found that their intention was to understand ideas meaningfully and seek meaning (Prosser and Trigwell, p.91). Students who take a surface approach are motivated by the fear of failure and are characterised as taking narrow views and concentrating only on detail rather than gaining a deeper understanding. They will tend to memorise information likely to be needed for the assessment rather than absorbing the information and gaining a full grasp of its content. The primary reasons for taking this approach are the aforementioned fear of failure and a lack of confidence in taking a deep approach (regardless of whether the students would identify these approaches as such). The intention of these students is observed as gaining the ability ‘to cope with and fulfil course requirements achieving a minimal grade’ (Biggs, 1999, p. 15).
Through independent work by Biggs (1979), and Ramsden and Entwistle (1981: in Zhang and Sternberg, 2005) a third approach was identified. This approach was first termed ‘achieving’, but later changed to ‘strategic’. The strategic approach was identified later as a key element was missing in the context used in Marton and Saljo’s experiment – assessment (Entwistle, 1996; cited in Moon, 1999, p.122). Students who adopt the strategic approach are noted as being motivated by the need for achievement
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