n Education as Change - Teaching, learning and assessment in large classes - a reality of educational change?

Volume 9, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1682-3206
  • E-ISSN: 1947-9417
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An important aim of education in general and higher education in particular, is to bring about learning with understanding, i.e. deep learning. The distinction between deep and surface approaches to learning includes references to the role of assessment in learning: where a surface approach focuses on assessment requirements and often results in isolated pieces of information, a deep approach focuses on personal understanding, linking new ideas to previous knowledge and experience and relating evidence to principles. Between a surface and a deep approach to learning, an intervening category called a strategic approach to learning has been identified. This indicates that learning is often a combination of both a deep and a surface approach. The purpose of this research was to explore the possible influence of large classes on: students' approaches to learning and lecturers' approaches to teaching and assessment. This was done in the context of three case studies selected on class size in two faculties. It was concluded that it is an oversimplification to say that large classes are a cause for ineffective approaches to studying. In two of the three case studies, the lecturers adopted different coping strategies, namely an exam-driven approach or a strong teacherfocused strategy. This results in a strong surface approach to learning that varies from passive surface to active surface. Even learners with a deep approach to learning have to adapt by adopting a strategic approach.

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