Criminal Justice Surface Learner vs. Authentic Deep Learner

motivation-and-learning-16-728How a criminal justice first-year student approaches their studies will determine their enjoyment in the learning process as well as formulate good study habits for future academic success.

The Surface Learner

The surface learner is just looking to survive and pass the class. Not dreadfully worried about learning new concepts and applying these lessons to problem solve. The surface learner is looking to put in the least amount of effort needed to pass the class.

Surface learners are not engaged with their peers or in the class scholarly conversation. They seem bored and uninterested and are clock watchers. The surface learner has become a wall flower in the class engagement just observing and not actively participating and sharing information discovered.

The surface learner wants to be spoon fed information rather than discover their own answers through seeking out scholarly sources. The surface learner has a narrow view and is only looking to memorize information for assessments. The surface learner does not value information literacy and does not look to engage in acceptable scholarly literature to incorporate into their work.

Desert-RatThe surface learner is motivated by fear of failure but does not put in the effort to take responsibility for their own learning journey. The surface learner is only looking to check a box and move on.  Surface learners tend to take on a heavy course load looking to sprint to the finish line without the ability to reflect and build on their experience and new-found knowledge.

Authentic Deep Learner

The authentic deep learner strives to find a deeper understanding of how new concepts introduced can be applied to helping solve problems. The authentic deep learner takes responsibility for their own learning journey and actively engages and is inquisitive. The authentic deep learner values the learning opportunity to grow and vigorously engages and challenges preconceived assumptions that leads to critical thinking.

Opportunity-AheadThe authentic deep learner is motivated by interest in the content and how to apply their knowledge to solving real world problems. The work meets or exceeds the assignment expectations and the authentic deep learner values time management to help in their success. The authentic deep learner relates new ideas to previous experience and knowledge.

The authentic deep learner makes use of scholarly literature and knows when information is needed, and where to find accepted sources for evaluation.

The authentic deep learner takes a manageable course load so they can devote their study time on the course requirements to earn the grade they want.

Invest in Your Learning

First-year criminal justice students are learning how to get organized and how to be successful in academia. Seeking out peers who have a demonstrated work-study ethic and willing to offer good study habit tips is critical to the transformation and requirements demanded by higher education institutions.

Slide15Your education credential should not just look good on a resume but be a tool to help you effectively communicate and problem solve. What you put into your own learning is what you take away.

What type of approach are you taking with your own learning opportunities?


About the Author

Mark Bond

Mark Bond has worked in law enforcement and has been a firearms instructor for more than 33 years. His law enforcement experience includes the military, local, state and federal levels as a police officer and criminal investigator. Mark obtained a BS and MS in criminal justice, and M.Ed in educational leadership with Summa Cum Laude honors. As a lifelong learner, he is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in education (EdD) with a concentration in college teaching and learning. Mark is currently an assistant professor of criminal justice at a university and adjunct professor of administration of justice studies at a community college.

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