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Chin, C. (1999). Deep and surface learning approaches in science: A comparison. In S. P. Loo (Ed.), Proceeds of the MERA-ERA Joint conference 1999: Educational Challenges in the New Millennium (pp. 239-246). Malacca, Malaysia.
Previous researchers have often described students’ approaches to learning as either
deep or surface. What does this mean in the specific context of science learning? The purpose
of this study was to compare in greater depth, the qualitative differences between what is
commonly referred to as deep versus surface approaches to learning science and articulate the
subtleties of these constructs. Six grade 8 students judged as typically using learning
approaches ranging from deep to surface were taped during hands-on class activities during
regular science classes. They were also interviewed about their understanding of some related science concepts. Analysis of the students’ discourse and behaviours during class activities and their interview responses revealed several differences in their learning approaches. These differences were grouped under five emergent categories: generative thinking, nature of explanations, questioning, metacognitive activity, and approach to tasks. Implications based on these findings are discussed.
This paper was published in the 1999 Proceedings of the MERA-ERA Joint Conference held at Malacca, Malaysia from 1-3 December 1999
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