Age, Maturity and Gender, and the Propensity towards Surface and Deep Learning Approaches amongst University Students


The approach that a student takes towards their study has a substantial impact on the quality of their learning and academic success—a deep rather than surface approach more likely to be associated with academic success. Using the validated study processes questionnaire developed by Biggs et al. (2001), this study surveys over 500 undergraduate students across one university to examine patterns of learning approaches against age, maturity and gender. Analysis indicates that age is important in terms of the tendency towards adopting a deep or surface learning approach; mature age students are more likely to adopt a deep learning approach and less likely to adopt a surface approach. There are no significant differences in deep or surface approach scores between genders. However, in relation to maturity, both mature age males and females score a statistically higher score on deep motive compared to usual age females. However, this is not the case for usual age males, with no significant difference found. This same pattern also occurred for the deep strategy subscale component. Mature males and females, as well being more motivated to adopt deep learning approaches, undertake strategies that are more likely to lead to a higher scale scores compared to usual age females but not usual age males.

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Lake, W. and Boyd, W. (2015) Age, Maturity and Gender, and the Propensity towards Surface and Deep Learning Approaches amongst University Students. Creative Education, 6, 2361-2371. doi: 10.4236/ce.2015.622242.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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