Students use a set of means to achieve their learning.

Such means are the so-called “learning strategies” which, in Weinstein and Mayer’s conception, correspond to “integrated sequences of procedures or activities that are chosen by the learner to facilitate the acquisition, storage, and memory of information”.

The first study on learning strategies was conducted in 1976 by Marton and Saijo. They observed that when faced with the same learning task, students adopted two different approaches: One group-oriented their learning towards a global understanding of the subject while the other concentrated on the memory of facts contained in the subject, focusing their attention on those data they assumed would be used in their evaluation.

The authors called the first a deep learning strategy and the second a superficial learning strategy.

Since then, numerous other authors have continued to develop the subject, highlighting the contributions of Entwistle (1981), Ramsdem (1992), and Biggs (1993).


4 Deep learning:

In summary, this strategy is characterized by incorporating the critical analysis of new ideas, which are integrated into previous knowledge on the subject, thereby favoring their understanding and retention in the long term in such a way that they can, later, be used in solving problems in different contexts.

Achieving deep learning requires the use of high levels of cognitive skills such as “analysis” (compare, contrast) and “synthesis” (integrate knowledge into a new dimension).

4 Surface learning:

In this strategy, the learner memorizes the information as isolated facts, without connection with previous experiences or with the general context. The main objective is to retain data to pass the evaluation.

In superficial learning, only a low level of cognitive ability is required, mainly oriented to “knowing”. This explains the rapid forgetting of the subject studied shortly after taking the evaluations.

4 Strategic learning:

The third form of learning strategy is described in which the student seeks all means to excel and obtain high marks. It is nothing more than a very well-organized form of superficial strategy.





Focused on meaning

Focused on data

Relate prior knowledge to new learning

Focused on isolated events

Links new knowledge to other areas or subjects

Directed to memorization to take tests or exams

Relates knowledge to real and everyday experience

Relationships are not established with the usual experience

Incorporates logical analysis and uses critical judgment

Accept the facts as presented

It is established based on an intrinsic motivation, oriented to the satisfaction of knowledge

Motivation is external, aimed at passing the subject

Learning strategies are not fixed attributes in each individual, there are preferences for one or the other.

Depending on the learning contexts, the same learner can choose a superficial or deep strategy.


Dependent on the learning environment:

Reliability in the   level of qualification of the Faculty

Faculty that generates a flexible, cordial, supportive environment

Clarity of objectives and goals

Motivating programs relevant to the professional career

Appropriate social and academic climate

Dependents of the teacher:

Adopt an “andragogic” behavior (participating as a facilitator and guide) instead of “pedagogical” (focused on the delivery of information)

Give positive feedback

Establish realistic goals, according to each level of education and based on core content

Use participatory methodologies

Promote interaction between students (group projects)

Direct teaching of clinical skills and competencies

Assess high cognitive levels

Curriculum dependent:

Establish essential content avoiding information overload

Design integrated curriculum models

Incorporate student-centered methodologies

Develop evaluation instruments and methods by the methodologies and objectives


Teacher-centered teaching

Information overload

Tasks outside the program objectives

Subject-oriented curriculum, lacking integration

Include methodological “innovations” without pedagogical context

Conventional task overload

Inadequate evaluations: out of objectives, related to teaching methods, lacking objectivity, unreliable and low cognitive demand.

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