The ambiguity in educating students

The ambiguity of teaching students at the university level starts with the educational system, at its start. The deep-learning approaches are often neglected for the sheer impulse to deliver a huge amount of content which students have to memorize. Not only that this attitude is not rewarding, but it promotes the shallow-learning approach where temporary retention of knowledge is beneficial to students. Retaining a large scattered knowledge in working memory is lost in the long term if the physical change have not been achieved, the physical changes in the brain between concepts.

The root cause might have a fractal nature, where researchers are not rewarded for being scholarly in their education practices at universities, but they are only rewarded for their research merits. These researchers inform themselves poorly on educational research, in a similarly shallow way. This attitude is therefore transferred to their students in the courses they teach, where students are rewarded for a shallow-learning approach, where they have to retain a mass amount of scattered knowledge to pass the exam. The deep-learning approach where an understanding the subject is followed would not grant them high grades on the poorly structured exams. Students report that deep-learning will get them poor scores, compared to the shallow-learning approach which is tested on these exams. Especially if they have to please a certain lecturer, which might steer their learning on a whole other path, away from the subject matter and towards psychology. On the contrary, student independence and lower workload promote deep-learning skills.

Nevertheless, the same students are asked for a deep understanding to be able to think outside the box, while being rewarded for something completely different. One might see how students might get in anxiety regarding this ambiguity, especially if we take into account the evidence that deep-learning is associated with motivation and accomplishment, while shallow-learning is associated with stress and disengagement in students.