Cargo cults, wooden phones and superficial learning
This makes sense of what I see so often in student assessment work:
many novice learners, and in particular undergraduate students, attempt to build into their work what they believe their lecturers require from them. This is a superficial response to learning. For example I have often heard students asking ‘how many references should I include in my essay?’ to which my reply is: ‘include what is relevant to support your arguments and justify your choices.’ Just as the Melanesian islanders failed to understand the inner workings of technology, but attempted to recreate it from its surface appearance, so undergraduate students who ‘don’t get it’ attempt to write critical essays by stringing together references into some form of meaningful narrative. It barely scratches the surface.
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