Phase 2 essay plan, variety B

Manus and Angela Contribution - Our group has decided to tackle this question from three different perspectives. Therefore we have split into groups of two and are creating a more indepth and focused plan of how we would answer the question.

Question: Compare and contrast several different important senses of high and low quality learning

Intro: Firstly, it is important to define the concepts of ‘high’ and ‘low’ learning: low levels of learning involves the learning of facts, in order to be able to reproduce these facts, slightly higher learning involves learning laws- and understanding how these laws are applied; e.g. multiplication. Higher learning again would be attempting to understand given concepts rather than fact learning, assimilating this new knowledge and understanding within existing conceptual frameworks, attempting to understand novel information in order that it be transferable. Furthermore, Perry postulates that the highest level of learning occurs when a learner attempts to connect and understand new information in relation to personal experience and existing knowledge.

Briefly the multitude of models and give basic description of each, highlighting various differences and potentially contradictory theories.

In order to answer the question in sufficient detail, and that the learning models mentioned might be properly discussed and contrasted, this answer will concentrate on two models of learning; Marton’s ‘deep’ and ‘surface’ learning, and also mastery learning as described by Carroll/Bloom.

Marton's 'deep' vs 'surface' learning

Introduce and discuss Marton and Entwistle’s concept of deep vs surface learning; description of ‘deep’ in terms of what is learned; concepts and ideas rather than facts and laws, in terms of what drives deep learning, as in the desire to understand a concept with relation to other material, learn a new skill, and not simply the wish to remember selected information in order to achieve a passing grade, achieve a qualification, avoid punishment, etc. The learners attitude towards new information, not passively accepting of new ideas uncritically, but engaging and understanding new ideas on the basis of already existing knowledge/education.

Development of the theory; by Biggs and Entwistle to incorporate the idea of context being important; extrinsic goals and relationship with surface learning contrasted with intrinsic and deep.

Discuss Biggs contrstuctive alignment and Outcome Based Education. Is the distinction as simple as it seems, can learning be easily categorised into deep and surface learning, does it not rely on the inherent motivation to learn in the learner?

Potential concept of ‘strategic learning’- well practised and organised form of surface learning in order to achieve high marks in an education system which rewards surface and fact learning. (Entwistle 2000). Attempts to incorporate deep learning practises into teaching- discuss results of Ramsden et al study - RAMSDEN P BESWICK D and BOWDEN J (1989) "Effects of Learning Skills Intervention on First Year Students' Learning" Human Learning 5: 151-64

Comparing Deep vs Surface level learning with Mastery learning; mastery learning can only be achieved with an awful lot more work from the teacher, deep learning can be encouraged by changing the learning goals/outcomes, but will ultimately only be responsible if a learner is motivated to learn. Both models highlight the importance of context, learner and approach.

In contrast to Marton's 'deep' and 'surface' learning, another technique for learning is Mastery learning by Carroll and Bloom.

What is Mastery Learning?

Introduce Bloom's concept of Mastery Learning e.g

It is based on Bloom's model of learning for Mastery. It basically believes that everyone has the ability to learn at the same level if they are given the appropriate learning method that suits them best.
Furthermore, if learners are given enough time to learn then they should reach their full potential. Learning is broken down into stages and learners progress through to the stage once they have mastered the content.

Support for this type of learning?

Discuss the empirical support for this concept e.g

Empricial support indicate that mastery learning groups always tend to perform better than controls. (Kuliki et al, 1990); Biggs and Lai, 1994).

Criticisms- Discuss criticisms e.g time comsuming, low aptidude student learn more, focus on test results over overall learning.


Whilst this method of learning provides considable empirical support for the beneifts of mastery learning students. This is appears to be a low level of learning since its over all focus is on results over understanding and learning. Furthermore, it only appears to beneifts lower aptitude students . Expand and discuss

Discuss Carroll's contribution and concept of learning e.g

JB Carroll- " A Model of School Learning".
-Influenced by Bloom
- Five variables that affected School learning:
Aptitude- time needed for a student to learn.
Opportunity to Learn- How much time a student is given to learn.
Perseverance- STudents own motivations and how much they are willing to give to the learning.
Quality of instruction- how good the teaching methods and instruction
Ability to Understand Instruction- how well the student can understand what is being taught
Basically, this theory believes that for optimal learning conditions all of the five variables must be met for the student.

-Compare and contrast Caroll & Bloom.

- Evaluation of learning techniques.

Conclusion- Bring together all theories discussed and summarise. Discuss all theories in context of high and low learning. Discuss theories in relation to other theories of learning as disucssed in the intro. Conclude.



Best Thing - A good, interesting set of ideas. Several good instances of examples, and detail to fit with the plan. Also a versatile layout which fits with everyone doing different areas that can be then be used to pick from.

Worst thing - Although generally a strength, perhaps a few occassions where plan instructions (e.g. compare x and y) given without details of what this might consist of. If followed exactly, it may produce an overly long essay.

Other comments - As a resource that could be used to help with writing the essay it does a good job.

Lisa Best thing - provides the reader with key ideas needed to answer the question. It seems that everything said is directed at answering the question and everything is relevant. Good use of references. Worst thing - introduction seems to have a little too much info which could be incorporated into the main body of the text. Maybe a bit too much to write down in an exam. Overall - Very good answer with a clear structure.

Fran - Best: Clear structure, I like that the introduction informs you exactly of what is to come, lots of great points and plently of information to get down. Worst: As also mentioned, perhaps this is a little too much to write down for an exam answer which might leave the answer with great breadth but little depth if too much is covered.

Iain -

Good Points - Packed with information, good structure, all geared to answering the question. Will be a very good study tool for this type of question as it covers all the aspects you were wanting to cover.

Bad points - As said possibly too much to fit into an exam answer, but you could pick and choose the best points from it to formulate your own answer.

Jen - Good points: lots of information and details of what could be put in, well structured and well referenced

Not so good points: More of a plan than an essay. It is not always clear how the points would be expanded, i.e. what you would put when you expand the points. More explanations would have helped. However, explaining more would make it probably too long for an exam essay.


Good - it's very detailed and well structured, and also links the different types of learning together very nicely and gives the reader a clear idea of what needs to be questioned and addressed. There's a good amount of empirical support for both learning types too.

Bad - They perhaps go into too much detail about the types of learning and could've been more concise, which is hard when there is so much information you coukd include.


Really good research and it was really clear how you were going to tackle the question. i really like how you use abstract thinking, and a mini-critical review format. It makes it really easy to read and understand!

Improvements: Perhaps a bit too much detail, which would be evident when you actually started to write it in an exam setting.

Good - introduction clearly describes what will be discussed, clear plan to follow in an exam, good to point out discussion of theories in conclusion, good use of extra references
Bad - maybe a bit long for an exam and the plan is slightly unclear in places

Katherine - The ideas seem very well researched and demonstrate what I would percieve to be enthusiasm and an interest in the subject. For me, that makes it interesting to read. I did find it a bit too abstract - I generally prefer to read a solid draft, but that's just what I personally find easier to follow. However, it is very comprehensive and I could learn a lot from it!


(good points) starts off by defining concepts and then asks important questions in the topic; very focused and answers the question.

(improvement points) maybe compared the two theories better?


+ Good structure, references/empirical evidence, covers lots of info.

- Maybe a bit too long, a few points could be expanded.


Strange mixture of essay and a plan - some points were covered quite in depth, while other areas were skimmed over, where it would have been nice to have a bit of detail. This is particularly true for the conclusion. Also quite long for a plan, and expanded into an essay would probably be too long for an exam answer. That said, it does make it quite useful as a study aid.

Manus Cross

Best points: Question is dealt with from a number of perspectives (potentially a bad point as too much information to cover).

Worst points: Inconsistent in terms of level of detail.