Beyond Regurgitation

Critical Thinking
Learning Styles
Deep Learning

The scene is all too familiar... You've studied hard for this thing. You've done the reading. You've reworked all the homework and even did a few extra problems. You've gone over your notes. You even got a full night's rest the night before and ate a good breakfast this morning. You are ready for this test! You get to the exam room, open the exam up, and read the first question. Completely foreign. You read the next question. This one's vaguely familiar but you have no idea where to start. What's going on? "Am I in the right class?" you think to yourself. Well, you are, and you struggle through the exam wondering if all those hours of preparation were a waste of time. Later, after the ordeal is over, you ponder the situation. What went wrong? You studied hard. You thought you were ready. But the test totally caught you by surprise...

What may be going on is what might be called "surface learning." Often students are able to succeed in high school by only superficially understanding the material-for example, memorizing key strokes on the TI-85 calculator rather than understanding the mathematics concepts. When they get to college, many professors expect them to process information much more deeply, and test this by giving questions which may 'look' on the surface very different than what students have seen before, but can be answered by applying key concepts from the course to the new context (as opposed to just copying a recipe or regurgitating the textbook explanation). Thus, the surface learner is easily surprised by the questions designed to test the underlying concepts without regard to memorized procedure.

The following links are designed to help you become a "deep learner," to move beyond mere regurgitation of lecture notes to really learning the material in a meaningful way. Read on for tips on getting that college education you're really looking for...