Surface and Deep Approaches to Writing Essays

Year: 1985

Author: Biggs, J.B.

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In Marton's original distinction, a surface approach to learning referred to a focus on reproducing words and sentences, and a deep approach to a focus on understanding discourse. Parallel foci occur in essay writing, which suggests the possibility of a cross- fertilisation between the hitherto disparate research areas of student learning and writing; in particular that similar motiv- ational-strategic interactions may occur, and similar process- outcome relationships. A model of writing is outlined that con- ceptualises process-outcome relations, and is illustrated with reference to case studies of the writing of mature age students in Australian History.