Deep vs. Surface Learning: A Study Among DTP3 Thermodynamics Students in Politeknik Kuching Sarawak

  • Bong Nee Mel


This study explores the learning approaches (deep or surface learning) of Mechanical Engineering (Manufacturing) students of DTP3 in studying Thermodynamics. The pattern of correlation between types of learning approaches with academic attainment also to be examined. In addition, this study also tries to prove that the students’ learning approach and academic understanding is influenced by the educators’ pedagogy choices. The Revised Two Factor Study Process Questionnaire (R-SPQ-2F) was conducted to respondents. The findings of this study showed that deep learning approach was the most dominant learning approach used by the students. Then, the findings also showed that the deep learning approach had positive correlation with academic attainment while the surface learning approach was inversely proportional with academic attainment. Therefore, students are encouraging to become a deep learner rather than surface learner.  Furthermore, this study also revealed that the significant of educators to teach awareness to the students on the different approaches in their learning. Thus, by promoting or inducing the deep learning approach among students, it is hope that the surface approach to learning can be minimized. Educators also need to be aware that their teaching practices can affect the intention of the students to learning too. The implementation of Outcome Based Education (OBE) in polytechnic’s studies requires students to achieve the goals (outcomes) by means of deep and thorough understanding and mastering of the subjects they study. Thus, the cultivation of deep approach to learning among students may parallel to the concept of OBE.


Biggs, J.B. (1999). What the Student Does: Teaching for Enhanced Learning. Higher Education Research & Development, 18(1), 57-75.
Biggs, J.B., Kember, D., & Leung, D.Y.P. (2001) The Revised Two Factor Study Process Questionnaire: R-SPQ-2F. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 71(1), 133-149.
Hanin Naziha Hasnor, Zaiton Ahmad & Norshidah Nordin (2013). The Relationship Between Learning Approaches And Academic Achievement Among Intec Students, UiTM Shah Alam. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 90, 178-186.
Herrmann, K.J., McCune, V. & Bager-Elsborg, A. (2017). Approaches to Learning as Predictors of Academic Achievement: Results From A Large Scale, Multi-level Analysis. Högre utbildning, 7, 29–42.
Jackson, M. (2012). Deep Approaches to Learning in Higher Education. In: Seel N.M. (eds) Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning. Springer, Boston, MA.
Mayya, S., Rao, AK., & Ramnarayan, K. (2004). Learning Approaches, Learning Difficulties and Academic Performance of Undergraduate Students of Physiotherapy. The Internet Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice. 2(4).
Sagar Khillar (2020, May 1). Difference Between Deep Learning and Surface Learning.
Weimer, M. (2012, December 3). Deep Learning vs. Surface Learning: Getting Students to Understand the Difference; November 19, 2012. Lander University’s White Board.
Zaza Eliza Mohd Redza, Suhaiza Ismail, Suhaimi Mhd. Sarif & Yusof Ismail (2013). Do Approaches To Learning Affect Academic Performance Of Business Ethics Students?. Journal of Technical Education and Training (JTET), 5(1).
How to Cite
NEE MEL, Bong. Deep vs. Surface Learning: A Study Among DTP3 Thermodynamics Students in Politeknik Kuching Sarawak. Asian Journal of Research in Education and Social Sciences, [S.l.], v. 3, n. 1, p. 25-32, mar. 2021. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 03 dec. 2021.