Binge Learning – A Conceptual-Developmental Model

Whilst publications exist identifying the concept of binge learning, little consideration has been paid to its alignment with government policy, modern society and technology – effectively its causes and resultant outcomes. This paper provides a conceptual model to explain the underlying causes and net outputs of binge learning, and identifies the social construct faced through its development over time.

The theoretical perspectives underlying this work emanate from the traditional deep and surface learning concepts as described by Houghton (2004) and Biggs & Tang (2007). Therein the surface approach to learning considers the method in which a student studies only enough to pass an assessment and fulfil the minimum requirements, thereby identifying a lack of time and the prioritisation of non-academic activities.  By means of comparison, and as proposed by Beattie et al., (2010), the ‘deep-surface distinction’ reveals the student learning intention, their learning style, the learning approach adopted and learning outcomes they seek.

Through a process of aligning student attendance with assignment marks and data indicating the use of online-learning facilities for a module, an unexpected outcome surfaced that had neither been sought nor considered. To some extent, the data emanating from each of these individual indicators may have been anticipated – superficially, individuals with low attendance rates appeared to achieve lower results. At the same time, usage rates for the online learning materials for the given module were very low until the week of the assignment submission.  However, deeper analysis indicated that poor attendance did not universally produce lower grades, and in the cases of low attending but high achieving individuals, their use of the learning materials in the final week was extremely high. The immediate postulation emanating from this was that learners were binge learning – the educational equivalence of binge consumption.   Further consideration of social and technological trends, allied with governmental requirements and arguments put forward with regards the dilution of education lead to the development of a conceptual model in this paper. This model helps to explain not only the changes behind this way of learning that appears to have been adopted by some students, but also the factors that allow it to be delivered and the possible outcomes that might arise in the near future should the concept develop more broadly in the education sector.