ABSTRACT

The idea that approaches to learning might influence the outcome of learning had its principal origins among researchers in Gothenburg, Sweden. There, instead of the more usual work on learning - monitoring of the effects of changed conditions on learning - students were asked how they conceived of various learning tasks that they were set in experimental situations (Marton and Saljo, 1984). Initially, the tasks consisted of the reading of texts. These 'phenomenographical' studies showed that students either approached a task in order to elicit the meaning that the writer intended to covey, typifYing a deep approach to learning, or so as to learn for simple recall purposes the elements in the texts without the sense that they needed to understand the whole text. This latter pattern typifies a surface approach to learning. It relates also to the discussions of the constructivist approach to learning in which the importance of the student's perception of the task is recognized.