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Within the world of education, you will be exposed to the concepts of ‘deep’ and ‘superficial’ approaches to learning.

In the Learning Guide (Health Education & Training Institute, 2012, p 30), a superficial approach to learning is described as doing ‘what you need to do to get by’, often associated with rote learning and reproduction of ‘facts’, not uncommonly associated with meeting assessment requirements.  Students will struggle to apply this knowledge to real-life or complex scenarios.

A deep approach to learning is one in which the learner is engaged with the task, critically analysing new ideas, linking them to already known concepts and principles in a desire to create ‘understanding’.  This leads to a long term retention of concepts that can be used for problem solving in unfamiliar contexts, essential for all practising clinicians.

A deep approach to learning may be facilitated by:

  • Use of teaching methods that foster active engagement by the student such as giving students opportunities to discuss, debate and compare their understandings with each other and yourself (the supervisor).
  • Avoiding learning methods that only require recall of information.
  • Allowing adequate time for active learning opportunities i.e. avoid content overload.

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