Students’ intentions are paramount in determining as to what learning strategy to adopt, which hugely influence by the format of assessment and the method of evolution. Put differently, what students intend to get out of a learning task influences the kind of learning strategy they adopt and the resulting outcomes. There are generally two types of learning strategies: surface-level and deep-level. Students who exhibit surface approach to learning tend to direct their attention to study the text itself in a reproductive conception of learning whilst students who possess deep approach to learning, by contrast, focus on the intentional content of the text, in pursuit of comprehension. Divergent reputable researches in the literature suggested that final year examinations without other types of continuous assessment throughout the year tend to promote surface approaches to learning, which is the format of assessment in Somaliland.
Surface approach to learning is a reproducing orientation mechanism where students concentrate on precise recall of the text or facts and encourages the development of memorisation learning strategies. If a student adopts surface approach to learning, he/she tends to possess extrinsic motivation to obtain a qualification or the fear of failure. The learning strategies for this group of students involve satisficing or investing the minimum amount of time and energy necessary to meet requirements. A common method is the memorisation of selected content without understanding it.
The format of assessment in Somaliland is characterised by final year examinations, which obviously encourages surface approach to learning, and this type of learning paradigm diverts student’s attention away from any endeavour to find a meaning in their learning. This learning strategy also prevents students to make connections between the newly acquired information to prior knowledge that existed in one’s brain, and more importantly, this group of students also fail to form opinion based upon evidence. The interconnectedness the information in one’s brain determines the knowledgeability of that individual.
Furthermore, students using the surface approach to learning do neither read widely nor think about what they have read and lack the ability to monitor their progress, memory, comprehension and their other cognitive activities. These students struggle sometimes to articulate their thoughts, find self-regulations rather difficult, that is, self-observation whilst one is solving a problem and utilising that observation as a guide to decide what course of action to be taken next. This group of students are more likely to seize on the first strategy that occurs to them and stick to it, regardless of outcomes whilst other group of students tend to think about the task, analyse it, choose an appropriate strategy, which then maybe modified or abandoned if it does not yield the expected results and they are problem solvers.
What exacerbate the situation even worst is the adoption of foreign languages in classroom, which promote surface approach to learning. This is because when instructions are carried out in foreign language in classroom, students usually fail to find a meaning in their learning, and consequently use memorisations without understanding the content as a learning strategy.
In conclusion, the format of assessment as well as the method of evaluation in Somaliland require modifications by introducing continuous assessment throughout the year in the form of essay-type of assessment and presentations. Divergent formats of assessment will promote the adoption of deep approach to learning, which enable them to gain a better understanding of themselves, a greater comprehension of what they have learnt and this method of learning will also provide them with the opportunity to develop problem solving, critical thinking, abstract reasoning, team-work and excellent communication skills.