Focusing on first year assessment: Surface or deep approaches to learning?

  • Sharn Donnison University of the Sunshine Coast
  • Sorrel Penn-Edwards Griffith University


This paper investigates the assessment and learning approaches that some first year students employ to assist them in their transition into their first year of study and extends our previous work on first year student engagement and timely academic support (Penn-Edwards & Donnison, 2011). It is situated within the First Year transition and student engagement literature and specifically speaks to concepts of learning within that body of literature. In this paper we argue that while students are in the transitional period of their studies, the use of assessment as a motivator for learning (surface approach) is valid first year pedagogy and forms an initial learning stage in the student’s progress towards being lifelong learners. 
Jul 25, 2012
How to Cite
DONNISON, Sharn; PENN-EDWARDS, Sorrel. Focusing on first year assessment: Surface or deep approaches to learning?. The International Journal of the First Year in Higher Education, [S.l.], v. 3, n. 2, p. 9-20, july 2012. ISSN 1838-2959. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 16 aug. 2018. doi:


assessment, student engagement; transition pedagogy; first year experience, surface learning

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