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ZAYED UNIVERSITY STUDENTS' TEACHING AND LEARNING BELIEFS AND PREFERENCES: An analysis based on the surface versus deep learning approach

Alan.Russell.zu.ac.ae - Zayed University, Dubai

Vol 1, June 2004


Analyses of teaching and learning in higher education are increasingly being based on a distinction between surface and deep learning. This distinction is helpful for investigating approaches used by teachers as well as student preferences for teaching and learning. Surface learning places an emphasis on memorizing facts and information as well as the relatively passive reproduction of content. In contrast, deep learning involves an intention to understand, the critical assessment of content and relating new information to past knowledge in meaningful ways. There has been an assumption that in the U.A.E. there is an orientation to surface learning in schools and higher education. To examine this assumption, an adaptation of questionnaires used with Western students (the Approaches to Study Skills Inventory for Students) was used with a small sample of ZU students. There are limitations in the use of this procedure and difficulties in interpreting the results. However, the results suggest that ZU students show strong beliefs and preference for deep learning approaches in addition to surface learning approaches. This finding is consistent with evidence obtained from student responses to assessment tasks, where there was evidence of deep learning. It was concluded that learning outcomes for ZU students could be enhanced by employing deep learning approaches to teaching and learning.

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